OK, so the Panthers are only 2-0. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. But this does count as Carolina's best start since 2003, when they began 5-0.
That's partly because the Panthers usually get off to such mediocre-to-poor starts. And that often translates into mediocre-to-poor finishes for a team that hasn't made the playoffs but three times in its 13-year history.
As I wrote in my column for Monday's paper, these Panthers really have a chance to be special. It will be interesting to see how Steve Smith's return Sunday at Minnesota will affect everything. His absence was notable Sunday, as Chicago stacked the line with 8 or more defenders at the line of scrimmage and dared the Panthers to beat them deep. No one was able to -- but there's no way the Bears would have played that sort of defense regularly if No.89 was flanked to one side.
The Panthers' injury report was good Monday -- there was little new to speak of, according to coach John Fox. They lead the NFC South at 2-0. There are only six undefeated teams in the NFC at the moment and that dropped to five Monday night after Dallas edged Philadelphia, 41-37. And now No.89 is back in the building, a fact that Charles Chandler analyzed nicely in Tuesday's paper here.
But do you know who isn't celebrating any of the Panthers' good news? Panthers general manager Marty Hurney. He's paid to worry, and he's worried about everything you can imagine right now. I talked to Hurney Monday and my column for Tuesday's paper included some of his thoughts on what's happened so far and what is ahead for Carolina.