Sunday: Noon at U.S. Bank Stadium (Ch. 9 and KFAN-FM 100.3)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS
• The Panthers (4-7) ended a five-game losing streak with a 20-0 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday. Quarterback P.J. Walker completed 24 of 34 passes for 258 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in his first NFL start, replacing Teddy Bridgewater, who is expected to return Sunday from a knee injury.
• Bridgewater, the Vikings’ 2014 first-round pick, has thrown for 2,552 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 10 starts since signing a three-year, $63 million deal with Carolina last offseason. He leads an explosive passing game with 36 throws gaining 20 yards or more, trailing only seven other offenses.
• Running back Christian McCaffery (ankle) practiced but he’s expected to miss his ninth game of the season Sunday.
• An 18th-ranked defense has been thrashed recently, allowing 544 yards and 46 points to the Buccaneers. But edge rusher Brian Burns can be disruptive, with 16 quarterback hits tied for 10th among all defenders.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT | RB Mike Davis
• Davis, 27, is having a breakout season, landing on his fourth NFL team after being a 2015 fourth-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers out of South Carolina.
• Davis, claimed off waivers in 2019, has been stellar replacing McCaffery. Only Dalvin Cook has forced more missed tackles than Davis, according to Pro Football Focus, and he’s second among all running backs with 49 catches and ranks 12th with 754 yards (449 rushing) from scrimmage.
• Panthers coach Matt Rhule on Davis: “[RBs coach] Jeff Nixon had a great feel for Mike and what he could do and knew he would be a special player in our system. Mike can catch, he can run, he can run with power, he can break tackles, he has great vision. He’s a blocker, selfless and someone everyone likes.”
• Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on Davis: “He does everything. He catches the ball well out of the backfield, is good on screens. He runs very, very hard. He’s elusive in the open field. I’ve been very impressed with the way he carries his pads forward.”
COACH SPEAK | Matt Rhule
• Rhule is in his first season as Panthers head coach. He was hired to replace Ron Rivera in Carolina after guiding Baylor to an 11-3 record in 2019.
• Rhule was an offensive assistant before becoming a head coach, but he hired celebrated LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady to be his offensive coordinator and play-caller. The Panthers offense is ranked 19th in yardage (353.1 ypg), the same as last year’s finish under Rivera.
• Rhule on his transition from Baylor to the NFL: “The challenge of dealing with COVID and trying to build a team and a system while not being able to meet with guys … has not been ideal. But at the same time, some of the things we tried to build on in college: relationships, good coaches, aligning staff in believing in all the same things. What wins in college can win in the pros.”
• Rhule on McCaffery, who was limited in practice Wednesday: “He got out there, he moved around. He’s making progress. As soon as he’s full go, we’ll put him out there if he feels confident and the medical people feel confident."