Week 11 opponent: What the Panthers are saying

Every week during the regular season we get an opportunity to talk with the opposing head coach via conference call. This week it was Carolina head coach Matt Rhule. I also scanned the Panthers media websites and the Carolina team website to see what else players and coaches are saying about this week's matchup with the Lions Sunday.

Here's what they had to say:

1. Head coach Matt Rhule told the Charlotte Observer Monday he was "hopeful" quarterback Teddy Bridgewater would be able to participate in practice to some extent Wednesday. Bridgewater was at practice Wednesday after leaving Sunday's loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a right knee injury, per Observer reporting on Wednesday. He wore a red jersey and worked to the side with a trainer during the portion of practice open to the media.

Rhule seemed hopeful Bridgewater could play Sunday when speaking to the Detroit media Wednesday afternoon. He called Bridgewater the "heart & soul" of the Carolina offense.

View photos of the starters for the Carolina Panthers.

2. Running back Christian McCaffrey, who sat out last week's loss to the Buccaneers with a shoulder injury, is not expected to play in this week's game, according to panthers.com.

3. Rhule is a big fan of Lions rookie running back D’Andre Swift. Rhule used to see Swift practice outside his window when Rhule was coaching at Temple and Swift was starring at Saint Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia. Rhule knew back then that Swift would be a special back, which has come to fruition in the NFL.

4. No McCaffrey Sunday for Carolina, but Detroit will still have to contend with veteran Mike Davis, who is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and has caught 47 passes out of the backfield.

Rhule said Carolina's record (3-7) isn't what they want it to be, but they've been in a lot of games and have had a chance to win more games in part because of the way Davis has stepped up and filled the void. Rhule said he has a ton of respect for Davis.

5. Speaking of respect, Rhule also has plenty of that for Lions edge rushers Romeo Okwara and Everson Griffen, who formed a disruptive duo on the edge for the Lions last week in a win over Washington. Rhule said Detroit does a good job scheming one-on-one matchups for those guys on the outside. He said his offensive line will have to be really good with those matchups this week.

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