Florence will have a chance to prove he's still worthy of a roster spot and has a tough challenge ahead against Manning and the New York pass attack. Panthers safety Quintin Mikell has been bothered by an ankle injury and Mike Mitchell will move from strong to free safety. Mitchell will make his first start for the Panthers and head coach Ron Rivera has confidence in him.
"The hard thing is we are going to move him from strong to free. We'll see how it unfolds. It was good to see him take the lead like he did," Rivera said of Mitchell. "This may be one of those things where a guy gets an opportunity, the door is cracked a little bit, and he steps all the way in. I've got a lot of faith that he's going to get it done."
Rivera has no other options to move Mitchell after Charles Godfrey was lost for the season with an injured right Achilles sustained against the Bills. Godfrey is the leader of the secondary and his intelligence and tactics will be sorely missed. Godfrey moved from strong to free safety for the final three games in 2012 and seemed comfortable in his new role. Injuries on Sunday to defensive backs Josh Norman and D.J. Moore do not appear to be serious, and a depleted secondary is not what the Panthers want right now with Cruz and Nicks coming to town.
"The other guys have to step up ... the guys that are clear-cut starters. Playmakers have to make plays," Rivera said. "If we're starting two new DBs, the other nine guys have got to step up. Our defensive line and front seven have to play well to give us an opportunity."
Carolina's defense has produced three sacks in the first two games and Godfrey had one them. Sack master Charles Johnson has one as well and he's the Panthers' best option up front. Johnson must get to Manning on Sunday to give his defense a chance, otherwise it will be a long afternoon. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis lead the Panthers in tackles with 23 and 20 stops, respectively, and shouldn't struggle too much against New York's run game.
Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is impressed with Rivera's defense.
"They really haven't given up many points. They're a very, very stingy defensive team, a good defensive team with a very good front," Coughlin said. "Linebackers are very, very active and obviously good tacklers."
Coughlin is half right. The Panthers can tackle, but have struggled in stopping opposing teams from compiling yardage. Seattle racked up 370 yards in Week 1 and Buffalo tacked on 436 more last Sunday.
Coughlin is 6-1 (0-1 playoffs) in games against Carolina, which hasn't started 0-3 since losing five in a row to start the 2010 campaign. New York hasn't dropped three straight to start a season since 1996 and handed the Panthers a 36-7 beating last Sept. 20. The Giants are 4-3 against the Panthers in the regular season and the two teams met once in the playoffs back in 2005, when the Panthers posted a 23-0 win.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be New York's main focus on Sunday. The dual threat didn't have a great day passing wise in Week 1, as he threw for 125 yards and a touchdown and ran for 38 yards. With his ability to kill defenses with his feet and arm, the Giants have to be ready.
"Honestly, we have to stop beating ourselves," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "We have a lot of opportunities in these first three games to kind of rewrite what this 0-2 is, the reality of this 0-2. We have to stop beating ourselves. We had a lot of opportunity to win both of these football games and didn't do it."