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Better Know the Enemy: Carolina Panthers

A look ahead at this week's foe

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Giants get a look at the Cam Newton Experience on Thursday night.

    Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Giants' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Carolina Panthers.

    You could work in practice for three months to come up with ways to stop Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, and still fall short of coming up with a practical solution to the problems he presents on the football field.

    So what are the Giants going to do with just three days? That's all the time they get before they have to be in Charlotte to square off against as unique a player as there is in the NFL right now. 

    There are other quarterbacks with big arms that are capable of making any throw in any playbook at any time, but none of them can make plays with their feet as well as Newton. And none have the same mix of size and arm strength that Newton does. 

    It's going to be a workout for the Giants defense, in other words, and it will be made all the more difficult by the fact that they've never seen Newton up close and personal before. The entire defense will need to be disciplined on every play or Newton will exploit each opening provided by a missed assignment or missed communication between two or more players. 

    If they can't stay on their game, we'll probably be looking at another shootout and there may not be anyone in the NFL with more weapons than Newton. Here's the rest of the Panthers you need to know about ahead of Thursday night's game. 

    Steve Smith - No, not that Steve Smith. The other Steve Smith, the one that beat the Giants almost singlehandedly back in the 2005 playoffs and hasn't lost much of anything from his game in the intervening years. If the Giants secondary hasn't figured out how to defend a slant since the opener, Smith should have a big day. 

    Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams/Mike Tolbert - Few teams in the NFL have devoted as much money to the running back position as the Panthers, likely because few teams have three guys who could play leading roles in good backfields. It only makes it more difficult to stop Newton when the defense also has to account for guys able to grind out yards in a more traditional manner. 

    Transition Defense - The Panthers defense was frightful last year, but it's shown some improvement early this season because of the changes at the linebacker spot. Jon Beason is back from injury, and Luke Kuechly has been making good on the promise that made him a first-round pick out of Boston College this April.

    Thomas Davis - Terrell Thomas needs another surgery on his ACL, which means Davis should serve as his inspiration for his rehab. Davis is believed to be the first player to make it back from three torn ACLs in the same knee and he's another reason why the Panthers defense has started back on the road to respectability. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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