Los Angeles Rams: Staff predictions vs. Carolina Panthers

LA RAMS and Carolina Panthers

After months of anticipation, and taking the proper approach with his workouts, Todd Gurley finally suited up for the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday for their Week 1 contest against the Carolina Panthers.

The condition of Gurley's much-scrutinized left knee had been the subject of offseason speculation. Like other Rams starters, he was held out of preseason games.

The fact that Gurley ended the game with 97 yards with 14 carries made some of the Rams doubters feel a little better over the running back's situation, but also keep in mind this was only one game. McCaffrey led the Panthers in both carries and receptions, finishing the day with 29 touches, 209 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Then again, Andrew Whitworth isn't your typical football player, Todd Gurley isn't an ordinary running back, and the rampant rumors Gurley had to endure about his injured left knee isn't an ordeal Whitworth remembered a friend ever having to deal with. He missed the final two games past year and still threw for 3,395 yards (completing 67.9 percent of his passes) with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The defense has improved with the additions of Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews, who will provide significant help to Aaron Donald.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton completed 25 of 38 passes for 239 yards.

The Panthers started at their own 40-yard line after Greg Zeurlein kicked the ball out of bounds and went 60 yards in eight plays, including a key 3rd-and-7 conversion to Curtis Samuel for 14 yards and finished the drive with a beautifully designed play from the Norv Turner archives that saw McCaffrey swap places with Cam Newton, take the direct snap, fake the handoff to his quarterback and bolt eight yards for the score through a huge hole between Matt Paradis and Greg Van Roten to close the gap to 16-10.

Slye drilled a 52-yard field goal on the following Panthers possession, putting the Panthers behind 23-13 going into the final quarter.

McCaffrey rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns in 19 carries. Brown took it in for a touchdown later in the drive, giving the Rams a 23-10 lead. And after Gurley gained just 8 yards on five carries in the first half, there was even more head scratching.

But the Rams forced the Panthers to go three and out.

The Rams appeared to have the outcome in hand when Littleton intercepted a pass by Newton, but Zuerlein missed a 41-yard field goal attempt. The under is 4-1 in Panthers last 5 games overall. Armed with a new contract, a healthy Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, Jared Goff should move the ball consistently versus a Carolina defense that has potential, but plenty of question marks as well.



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