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Panthers vs Colts: Week 1 NFL preseason preview

The Carolina Panthers face the Indianapolis Colts to close out Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason. Both teams are dealing with injuries and our Panthers vs Colts preview highlights some of the matchups for fans to monitor on August 15.

Panthers vs Colts: What you need to know

  • Panthers face the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, August 15 at 1:00 pm EST on Panthers TV Network, FOX59 and NFL Network.
  • Sportsnaut says the Colts defeat the Panthers, 24-21
  • Odds: The Colts are a 1.5-point favorite over the Panthers with an over/under set at 34.

Find out where the Panthers and Colts land in our preseason NFL power rankings

Jacob Eason vs Sam Ehlinger

Panthers vs Colts, Jacob Eason
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason (9), with Sam Ehlinger (4), and Jalen Morton, throws at Grand Park in Westfield on Monday, August 2, 2021, on the second week of workouts of this summer’s Colts training camp. Head Coach Frank Reich reappeared at practice after being away for ten days after a COVID-19 positive test. Colts Get Their Coach Back On Week Two Of Colts Camp

The Indianapolis Colts are confident the Carson Wentz injury isn’t a long-term issue, even optimistic he returns earlier than expected. But with the face of the franchise likely sidelined for the regular-season opener, a quarterback battle will determine who starts in Week 1.

Check out our Indianapolis Colts 2021 season preview

  • The Favorite: Since Wentz went down, Jacob Eason has handled the first-team reps at practice. A fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Eason is a former five-star recruit who posted a 39-16 TD-INT ratio across 29 collegiate games. While he lacks NFL experience, the Colts are high on the 6-foot-6 quarterback’s arm strength.
  • Texas Forever: Sam Ehlinger fell to the sixth round in the 2021 NFL Draft due to underwhelming physical tools. But the dual-threat quarterback is off to a fast start in training camp, per The Athletic, and will get a ton of reps against Carolina.

Advantage: Jacob Eason

Sam Tevi vs Panthers’ defensive line

Panthers vs Colts, Sam Tevi
Oct 20, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons (98) works against Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Sam Tevi (69) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The offensive line is typically an area of strength for the Colts. Unfortunately, that’s not the case entering action this season. Following Anthony Castonzo’s retirement, left tackle Eric Fisher will miss several games recovering from a torn Achilles. That leaves Sam Tevi as the projected starter in the early action and he could get exposed in this Panthers vs Colts matchup.

  • Second Chance: Sam Tevi was awful this past season at left tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers. He allowed 33 pressure, received a 59.0 PFF pass-blocking grade and was one of the worst run-blocking tackles in the NFL. But the Colts don’t have many options, so the starting job belongs to Tevi if he isn’t a turnstile in preseason action.
  • Cats Attack: Carolina’s defense isn’t generating a ton of buzz entering the season, but its pass rush is legit. Brian Burns is poised for a Pro Bowl season, Haason Reddick is coming off a 12-sack campaign and Yetur Gross-Matos (13 quarterback hurries on 226 pass-rush snaps) is developing nicely. The trio will cause Tevi some trouble.

Find out where the Colts and Panthers land in our preliminary NFL defense rankings

Advantage: Carolina Panthers

Panthers’ tight ends vs. Colts’ front seven

Panthers vs Colts, Dan Arnold
Jul 29, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers tight end Dan Arnold (85) runs a drill during the Carolina Panthers Training Camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina’s search for a viable tight end could end in 2021, or at least the coaching staff hopes it will. Ian Thomas, a fourth-round pick in 2018, hasn’t turned his physical tools into consistent production. So, the Panthers added Dan Arnold and Tommy Tremble this spring.

Check out our Panthers 2021 season forecast

  • Help from the Desert: While the Arizona Cardinals didn’t use their tight ends much in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, Dan Arnold still found a way to produce. He finished with a season0high 31 receptions for 438 receiving yards, averaging 14.1 yards per catch with 24 first-down conversions. A 6-foot-6 tight end with 4.6 speed and strong chemistry with Sam Darnold, that’s a recipe for success.
  • Tremble Time: Carolina’s third-round pick this offseason, Tremble offers two important traits NFL coaches love. First, he loves to block and can absolutely maul defenders in the run game. Second, he offers above-average athleticism relative to his size (6-foot-4). Put those things together and you’ve got a rookie that can see the field regularly.

Advantage: Dan Arnold

The bottom line: On paper, this Panthers vs Colts game might not seem really exciting. But this Week 1 preseason contest offers crucial opportunities for young players to win position battles at important spots. Considering the projections for both these teams in 2021, that makes this an important game.