FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Corey Dillon’s New England Patriots encore began on a sour note.

In last week’s opening game against Oakland, he managed 63 yards on 23 carries compared with last season, when he had a career-high nine 100-yard games to tie the Patriots’ single-season record.

It was Dillon’s lowest output as a Patriot. Last season, he rushed for a franchise-record 1,635 yards after the Patriots acquired him in an offseason trade with Cincinnati.

New England, which prides itself on offensive balance, rode Tom Brady’s 306 passing yards to a 30-20 win over the Raiders.

When the Patriots visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, they want to be more of a threat on the ground.

“We really want to get Corey going,” Patriots left tackle Matt Light said. “Good things always happen to us when he’s out there running the ball well. That’s what we’re going to try to get done this week.”

Carolina will be without two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to New Orleans.

However, the Panthers still have game-changing defensive end Julius Peppers as well as middle linebacker Dan Morgan.

When New England beat Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII two years ago, Morgan was credited with a franchise-record 25 tackles.

“He does a good job of slipping blockers and beating blockers,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s very instinctive. A lot of times, he kind of has a step on those linemen in terms of getting to the hole. He gets a good jump on a lot of plays.”

The Panthers limited New Orleans’ Deuce McAllister to 64 yards on 26 carries, but the Saints pulled off a 23-20 upset on John Carney’s 47-yard field goal with 3 seconds left.

Dillon’s opener was much like McAllister’s.

Although he found little running room in the first three quarters, Dillon had a pair of second-half touchdown runs. He set up one of the scores by gaining 25 yards on a screen pass.

Despite Dillon’s slow start, the Panthers said he can break tackles and easily get over 100 yards.

“That is one part of the offense that we have to shut down and really have to be focused on for the simple fact that Corey Dillon can kill you,” said Carolina safety Mike Minter.

AP-ES-09-15-05 1706EDT


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