Houston at Carolina Game Post

The Panthers open the 2015 home slate with a visit from the Houston Texans on Sunday. The Texans are the Panthers’ least common opponent, having faced off just three times since entering the NFL in 2002.

Houston owns a 2-1 edge in the all-time series, but the Panthers notched their first victory in the series at Houston in 2011 in a game that featured a 7-yard rushing toucndown from Richie Brockel on a trick play. Last week, Houston suffered a 27-20 loss to Kansas City while the Panthers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-9. The Panthers victory came behind a strong defensive effort that featured two takeaways, five sacks and a score, while wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery put the Panthers on the board offensively.

Limiting Penalties

The Panthers were charged with just three penalties for 22 yards in Week One at Jacksonville (9/14/15). The penalty and yard- age totals are the fewest by the Panthers in a season-opener in team history, bettering the four penalties in the 2013 opener vs. Seattle (9/8/13) and 29 yards in the 2008 opener at San Diego (9/7/08).

Big Day for J No

In Week One at Jacksonville (9/13/15), cornerback Josh Norman created two take- aways for the Panthers defense, including his first career interception return for a touchdown. With 9:08 left in the third quarter, Norman jumped in front of a pass from Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles intended for running back T.J. Yeldon, intercepting the ball and returning it 30 yards for the score to give the Panthers a 17-9 lead.

The interception return for a touchdown was Carolina’s seventh since 2013, tied for the most in the NFL.

Norman’s first takeaway came in the second quarter when he forced and recovered a fumble by Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns to stop a Jacksonville drive deep in Panthers’ territory. Norman finished the game with four tackles, an interception for a touchdown, a forced fumble and recovery and one pass defensed.

Klein Time

In Week One at Jacksonville (9/13/15), A.J. Klein stepped in to the lineup at middle linebacker after starter Luke Kuechly left the game late in the second quarter with a concussion. Klein finished with six tackles.

“Obviously you get reps in practice throughout the week and when this kind of thing happens, you just have to be next man up,” Klein said. “Luke goes out, I go in, it’s simple as that.” Added Coach Ron Rivera: “The beautiful thing is (the defense) rallied around A.J. A.J. held up his end by playing really well. I was really pleased with what I got out of A.J. Klein. He is a solid football player.” In the second half of the game, the Panthers held the Jaguars scoreless, allowed 75 total yards and one-of-six third down conversions.

Cotchery Leads the Charge

12th-year veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, in his second season with the Panthers, scored the first touchdown of 2015 for Carolina, connecting with quarterback Cam Newton on a seven-yard completion with 1:56 left in the second quarter. Cotchery finished the game with a team-leading four catches totaling 45 yards. The touchdown equals Cotchery’s total from 2014. In 2013, his last season in Pittsburgh, Cotchery totaled a career-high 10 touchdowns.

— From Press Release