Bears-Panthers matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Sept. 29, 2011 @ 4:34 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 DEs Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy vs. Bears OLT J'Marcus Webb and ORT Frank Omiyale

The Bears' pass protection showed significant improvement vs. the Packers one week after Jay Cutler was clobbered by the Saints. It's still a concern, however, and it will face another tough test Sunday. The Panthers have an aggressive blitz package at their disposal, but Ron Rivera might not have to consider sending extra pass rushers if Johnson — who has 11 sacks in his last 10 games — and Hardy are winning battles off the edge.

Johnson, who replaced Julius Peppers in the starting lineup last season, has become one of the most productive pass rushers in the league and has three sacks this season. Webb stands five inches taller than Johnson, so Webb is going to have to guard against being outleveraged against a shorter, relentless pass rusher.

Omiyale started in place of Gabe Carimi (knee) against Green Bay and is likely to get the nod against Carolina. Omiyale has very long arms. He's jittery at times and was called for two false-start penalties against Green Bay but held up well in protection. Hardy is explosive and has powerful hands to put blockers back on their heels. He has two sacks this season.

Chicago is likely going to need to use chipping backs and tight ends to help seal off the edge Sunday.

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