When the Carolina Panthers come to town this weekend, they'll be bringing along a potent one-two punch at running back. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart form a dynamic duo and will pose some interesting problems for the Chargers. While San Diego's run defense has been suspect this preseason, the Williams/Stewart combo has been stellar. Both players averaged over 7 yards a carry in the preseason, and each guy brings some considerable speed to the table.
Stewart is the bigger guy; he is built solidly, runs with great balance, and is not easy to tackle. He can do some serious damage once he gets to the second level because defensive backs have a hard time matching up with him physically. It will be important to contain him so that he can't do damage running north-south.
Williams is more of a scat-back type. He'll make you miss, can cut on a dime, and has excellent top-end speed. Williams will look to find open space where he can use his quickness and agility to out run would-be tacklers. He has the speed to out run linebackers so it will be important that the Chargers defense not over-pursue.\
The Carolina Panthers will be without star playmaker Steve Smith as Smith serves a suspension. With the Panthers offense missing a key piece of it's passing attack, they may be forced to run the ball a little more. The Chargers defense is going to have to bring their lunch pail to work on Sunday because it will be a physical game. Carolina is going to try to control the line of scrimmage and San Diego will have to answer by out-physicaling them.
The secondary will be tested - hopefully they answer the call and show that they can provide run support with the best of them. It will be interesting to see if the Chargers run defense regains its dominant form this season. Here is how they ranked the past four years:
San Diego's Total Rush Defense Rankings:
2004 - 3rd
2005 - 1st
2006 - 7th
2007 - 16th
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