One key component to the returns of tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Thomas Davis is their leadership.
That will be needed as the Panthers look to bounce back from a dismal outing when they play Sunday at the Philadelphia Eagles. Head coach Ron Rivera said Olsen and Davis can be big parts of helping the Panthers get things right.
The 23-17 setback at Washington created some misery because Carolina looked out of sorts during stretches of the game.
"Losing is not going to define us," Rivera said. "How we handle it, how we come out this week, that's going to define us. We have a chance to step forward. If we don't, we're going to get beat again. Grow from it and move on."
The Panthers don't want excuses to be part of the reaction. They're 0-2 in road games this season and have a chance to do something about that in Philadelphia.
"You're supposed to play well every week," Olsen said. "That's the expectation."
Rivera said Davis, who has played one game since returning after a four-game suspension, should aid in the team's mindset. He said Davis provides the energy and experience to guide some of the new players on the defense.
Quarterback Cam Newton, who sometimes has reacted negatively to setbacks, had a more calculated approach regarding the loss to the Redskins.
"We found a way to put ourselves in a winning position, and we didn't (win)," Newton said. "We'll get better from it."
That was one outlook to take from the game. Despite some of the snags, the Panthers moved into Washington territory on their final drive with a chance to pull out a victory.
Rivera said the Panthers seemed to regroup to some degree during the game, executing at a more acceptable clip after they started making some plays.
"As we got closer to them, we played better," Rivera said.
Among the lessons learned was that the Panthers can't afford to put themselves in such bad deficits. Trailing 17-0, they nearly matched their biggest comeback in franchise history.
"You can't put yourself in a hole like that," Rivera said.
Turnovers were a problem and that's something that's being stressed this week. Newton has made that one of his themes.
"We've got to be better protecting the football," Newton said. "We've just got to keep feeding our playmakers."
Going to Philadelphia, it marks the third season in a row the Panthers have a road game against the reigning Super Bowl champion. Last year, they won at New England.
This will be Carolina's fourth game of the season against a team from the NFC East after defeating the Cowboys and Giants and losing to the Redskins.
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Eagles lead series, 7-3. The Panthers are 1-4 in regular-season games at Philadelphia. But Carolina won on the road in the lone postseason matchup between the teams by capturing the 2003 NFC Championship Game.