Panthers-Bears matchup of the day: Tuesday

Posted Sept. 27, 2011 @ 7:08 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week Four battle between the Panthers and Bears.

Panthers' tight ends vs. Bears' safeties

Teams have attacked the Bears' pass defense in the seams with tight ends thus far, and have had success doing it. Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez (5-72-0) and Saints TE Jimmy Graham (6-79-0) were very productive in the Bears' first two games, and Jermichael Finley (7-85-3) made big catches against Chicago's coverage, which was without its opening day starters at safety, Chris Harris (hamstring) and Major Wright (neck).

Harris and Wright could be ready to play by Sunday (Brandon Meriweather and Craig Steltz started in their place against Green Bay), but the Panthers are going to feature their tight ends, Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey, regardless. They're big, reliable targets for QB Cam Newton and pose matchup problems.

The Bears know Olsen, who was traded from the Chicago in the offseason, very well. He has a rare combination of size and speed, and the ability to use his height and agility to do damage in the red zone just like Finley did against the Bears in Week Three. Shockey isn't exactly an explosive player at this point in his career, but he's made a catch of 16 yards or longer in every game this season. The Bears' safeties are going to need to tackle well Sunday to keep underneath passes from becoming long gains.

The cover-2 defense, however, could lure Newton into making some key mistakes and the Bears are likely to have some opportunities to cause a turnover.

Follow Dan Parr on Twitter