Keep your eye on ...
The return of Steve Smith: Carolina's star receiver makes his season debut after serving a two-game suspension for punching teammate Ken Lucas during training camp. The Panthers have won two games without him and QB Jake Delhomme looks forward to having his favorite target to test Minnesota's 24th-ranked pass defense.
Gus Frerotte without a clipboardr: Coach Brad Childress named the 15-year veteran the starter on Wednesday after two lackluster performances by Tarvaris Jackson. Last week, Minnesota crossed into Colts territory on five straight possessions, only to come away with six points. Frerotte, a career journeyman, will make his 83rd career start in the NFL.
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The Panthers aim for their first 3-0 start since 2003, when the club won the division and advanced to Super Bowl XXXVIII. ... Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is averaging a league-best 100.3 rushing yards per game since entering the NFL in 2007. ... In his last start vs. Minnesota, Delhomme completed 21 of 30 passes for 341 yards with three TDs for a 141.1 rating, the second-highest mark in his career.