Carolina Panthers pose running threat

Marquice Cole and the Patriots face a major test Monday.
Marquice Cole and the Patriots face a major test Monday.jonathan wiggs/globe staff

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FOXBOROUGH — The numbers don’t spell it out — they’re only 10th in the league — but the Carolina Panthers might have the best running game the Patriots will face this season.

That could be a problem come Monday night in Charlotte, N.C., because the Patriots are giving up 128.2 yards per game on the ground. Only the Bears and Jaguars allow more.

The challenge Carolina brings is not allowing defenses to key on one player, or two, or even three. With quarterback Cam Newton and running backs DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert, the Panthers have four players who have combined for 1,128 yards and average 4 yards per carry. They’ve rushed for 10 touchdowns.

Not only do defenses have to prepare for multiple players. Those players have different running styles.

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