The Buffalo Bills’ defense does not look like the train wreck against the run that it was last season based on its performance in Week One.

Will the run defense actually be good enough to be considered an asset this season? We get a better idea on Sunday when the Bills host the Carolina Panthers at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Carolina ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing yards last season. The Panthers’ top ball carrier DeAngelo Williams has a career average of 4.9 yards per carry fourth best among active NFL running backs.

“I see an aggressive right at you style” Bills defensive end Alex Carrington said. “It’s a man-up deal. They have zone reads but they have power plays. They’ll run right at you. They’ll sneak 10 yards at you real quick.”

The Bills gave up 158 rushing yards in losing to New England last week. That’s a dozen more than they yielded per game last season when they ranked 31st in the NFL against the run.

However the overall defensive picture wasn’t bad. The Bills held the Patriots to just two touchdowns in 14 possessions and both of those scores came on drives that started deep in Buffalo territory.

Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was not discouraged by the rushing yards allowed to Tom Brady & Co.

“We’ve always been in the mode against New England that we’re willing to concede a few rushing yards” Pettine said after Friday’s practice. “We always felt if we presented some lighter looks to Brady we always felt a lot better about him handing it off versus throwing it. So schematically there were some things where you don’t get too upset about it. There were a couple times where I made a pure pass call and it was a running play.”

“We were willing to have it be probably more yards than we’d want in a normal game when you’re playing an offense like that” Pettine said.

Pettine stressed that the success of the defense starts with the run game.