Finally, the Panthers hit the field for real, well sort of. Carolina traveled to Western New York to take on the Buffalo Bills for the first of 4 pre-season games. There were lots of questions going into this one and some of those questions did get answers but after the game some questions still remained. Here is my take on what we saw last night.
1. Offensive Line-
What was considered to be the biggest question mark turned out to be a real strength. The offensive line held up well against a very, very good front four of the Bills. During the plays I paid particular attention to LT Michael Oher. I felt as if Oher held his own for much of his time in the game.
2. Wide Receivers-
This group I thought had the best showing. Kelvin Benjamin picked up right where he left off last season. Ted Ginn made a really nice catch along the sideline to help set up the Panthers first score. Biggest surprise there was it was a pass over 20 yards he caught, usually he can only catch punts that are over 20 yards (ha-ha). But seriously I did like what I saw from most of the receivers. It is going to be a very tough decision trying to determine which receivers should be cut and which should remain on the roster.
3. Cam Newton-
While he came out on the first two drives and did not look sharp at all despite good blocking by the offensive line, the third drive he came out focused. He made some very nice throws and stood strong in the pocket when he needed to. This will be the first time in a while Cam will be starting the season healthy. With the improved play of the offensive line I expect to see more of the Cam Newton we saw on the third drive. This should be a big year for Cam.
1. Rushing Defense-
Normally a strong point of the Panthers defense, the Bills ran roughshod all over this defense. Buffalo racked up 206 yards on the ground. By comparison the Panthers only managed 73 yards. This is an area Carolina will have to improve in or we will be forced to score on most of our possessions if we want to have a winning season and contend for a third straight division title.
2. Defensive Ends-
With the loss of Greg Hardy, Carolina had hoped to find the answer to who should start opposite Charles Johnson at the other defensive end position. Well between Frank Alexander, Mario Addison, Kony Ealy, and Wes Horton. I think after the first pre-season game we still have no front runner emerge from that group. We can hope that someone will take charge in game #2. I was most impressed by defensive end #77 Rakim Cox who pressured Matt Simms every time he dropped back it seemed like. I say he deserves a shot at running with the ones during the week and in game #2. He can’t do any worse than what we saw versus Buffalo.
3. Second Team Defense-
This group was awful. The Bills offense did as they pleased when the Panthers 2nd team defense was in the game. The bulk of the Bills rushing yards came against this group. The tackling was poor ovdrall and the defensive line was easily pushed around by Buffalo’s offensive line. The coaches will be working extensively with this group I am sure during the upcoming week.
By that Freak'n Puerto Rican, aka Joe Riollano
Follow me on Twitter @Joe_Riollano