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Redskins 2016 Season Preview: Carolina Panthers, Week 15


As the Washington Redskins get closer to the start of another season, will preview all 16 of the team's regular season games, continuing with today's look against the Carolina Panthers.

The Panthers finished just short of winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history, falling to the Denver Broncos last season. They'll look to defend their NFC conference championship a second time under last year's MVP Cam Newton.

Result Of Last Game vs. Carolina: Lost 16-44 on Nov. 22, 2015

Carolina's Key Additions: Signed DT Paul Soliai, C Gino Gradkowski; Drafted DT Vernon Butler (La. Tech),  CB Zack Sanchez (Oklahoma), TE Beau Sandland (Montana State)

Carolina's Key Subtractions: CB Josh Norman (free agent/Redskins), P Brad Nortman (free agent/Jaguars), S Roman Harper (free agen/Saints), CB Charles Tillman (free agent/injury), CB Cortland Finnegan (free agent)

Carolina's Pro Bowlers: LB Thomas Davis, C Ryan Kalil, LB Luke Kuechly, QB Cam Newton, TE Greg Olsen, DT Kawann Short, RB Jonathan Stewart, FB Mike Tolbert, G Trai Turner

After a three-game road trip, the Redskins return home for another primetime matchup to face the Panthers on Monday Night Football.

The reason for the dramatics is understandable, considering this will be the first time that cornerback Josh Norman will have the opportunity to face his former team, which released him unexpectedly after he was franchise-tagged in March.

The Redskins notably swooped in immediately and courted Carolina's best defensive back, not letting him leave Redskins Park without a signed contract. Monday night on national T.V. will surely be an emotional one for both sides, especially if the two teams are presumably in the hunt again for the playoffs.

The Panthers would certainly like to think so after collecting their third straight NFC South division title and running through the rest of the conference with relative ease last year. The Redskins will, in turn, try to avenge last year's loss in Carolina. 

Besides making the dab become a viral phenomenon, quarterback Cam Newton earned the NFL's MVP award after throwing for 3,837 yards and rushing for an additional 636 yards to go along with 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

His best game came against the Falcons during Week 14, when he completed 15-of-21 passes for three touchdowns and 263 yards. As it happened, the worst quarterback rating of the year came in the Super Bowl. In their 24-10 loss to the Broncos, he completed just 43 percent of his passes without a touchdown.

It was the only disappointment in an otherwise highly successful season.

A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers.

Running back Jonathan Stewart provided 989 yards rushing along with six touchdowns in 2015, and the Panthers hope that second-year running back Cameron Artis-Payne can take over some of the load this season to prevent Stewart and Newton from getting too beaten up in the rushing attack.

Returning as the Panthers' biggest pass threat is tight end Greg Olsen, who tallied 77 receptions for 1,104 yards and seven touchdowns, as well as Ted Ginn, the team's deep threat, who hauled in 10 touchdowns on 739 yards.

The group should receive a healthy boost with Kelvin Benjamin this year, who missed all of 2015 with a knee injury. The 6-foot-5 receiver led all Panthers receivers in his rookie year with 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.

Defensively, the Panthers continue to boast one of the best defenses up front. Starting with the line, the duo of Kawaan Short and Star Lotulelei preyed on opponents' run games and quarterbacks all last year, combining for 12 sacks and nearly 70 tackles.

Up the middle, the group is anchored by Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, the duo that provided more than 200 combined tackles and elevated Carolina's defense, which ranked sixth in yards allowed.

The Panthers will work hard to fill the void left by Norman. Kurt Coleman returns at safety after providing seven interceptions and nine passes defensed, while much hope rests on young cornerback Bene' Benwikere, who totaled 44 tackles, a sack and forced fumble last season. 

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