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Eagles look to make another statement vs. Panthers

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

By ROB MAADDI

AP Pro Football Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Eagles made a statement last October when they beat Carolina on the road in Week 6.

They're trying to do it again this season, this time at home.

Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Eagles (3-3) are back to prove-it mode after a so-so start. The Panthers (3-2) are also looking to establish themselves as playoff contenders when they play in Philadelphia on Sunday.

"We were fortunate enough to come away way with a victory on the road," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said about a 28-23 win in a Thursday night game on Oct. 12, 2017. "This year, it's no different. Two good football teams. Two aggressive style defenses. So it's going to have to be a complete game if we expect to win. It's going to be a really good test for us to see where we are in Week 7."

Both teams were 4-1 when they met last time. The Eagles already have matched their loss total from last season but they're coming off a dominating 34-13 win at the Giants on Oct. 11. The Panthers lost at Washington 23-17.

"There's no reason to panic," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "We're just going to keep working hard and trying to improve."

Some things to watch between the Panthers and Eagles:

TORREY'S RETURN

Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith was a starter for the Eagles last season and caught a touchdown pass on a flea flicker in the NFC championship game against Minnesota. He said he has no hard feelings over being traded to Carolina after only one season in Philadelphia. Pederson praised Smith's leadership ability.

"He's a great leader. Great man, first of all," Pederson said. "He brings explosiveness, he can still run, he can still get open."

CONTAINING CAM

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Cam Newton is difficult to tackle when he runs the ball. He has 208 yards rushing and a team-high three TDs on the ground.

"We have to make sure we do our job," Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. "If you don't, that's when Cam gets out and he beats you. He's a big boy. You just have to make sure you go get him, bring him to the ground, tackle well. We have to be aggressive but play smart, too."

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said Newton is "more of a power running back than half the running backs they have."

THE BODYGUARD

Eagles nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters isn't expected to miss a game despite tearing his right biceps. Pederson said there's no risk to a further injury and he doesn't see a need to rest the 36-year-old Peters. Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Peters after the two-time All-Pro had season-ending knee surgery last season. He performed well enough to help Philadelphia win the Super Bowl.

CHESS MATCH

Eagles All-Pro center Jason Kelce is eager to match wits with four-time All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly.

"You game plan against difference makers and he's one of those guys," Kelce said. "Not only is he an incredibly gifted athlete but mentally he's as sharp as they come. He does a phenomenal job as the orchestrator of that defense."

DINK AND DUNK

Newton has completed only one pass that traveled more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage this season. He is also averaging just 6.8 yards per completion. But Newton's completion percentage under first-year offensive coordinator Norv Turner is a career-best 65.9.

"When we get into the logistical things of football and what the defense is giving and what they aren't, you just can't go down and chuck the football downfield and just expect, `Well, we didn't take shots in the game,'" Newton said. "Whatever Norv and his offensive staff calls, it's my job as a quarterback to execute it."

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Updated October 18, 2018

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