Panthers Recap - Preseason Game 1
What went well and what didn't in the Panthers first preseason game of 2021.
Back in Action
We are back! We had to wait all weekend and watch 30 other teams play before we got our chance, but man was it worth it. Seeing that Carolina blue out there just gave me goosebumps before the game even started. Of course the NFL slotted us for a 1 PM game on Sunday, considering I believe that's where we've played about 98% of our games over the past three years. But hey, we're going to need to perform if we want to bust into primetime (Although throw us a bone. Do I really need to watch the NFC East on every Sunday/Monday night?). Getting back to the game, there were a few takeaways...
We are still missing extra points...
This is not the first thing I want to focus on, but it is the thing that gets my blood pumping. After letting Graham Gano walk, Joey Slye has had his fair share of ups and downs with the Panthers. He may hold the record for most attempts over 60 yards and under 30 yards in a season. He clearly has a strong leg, but I cannot sit through another season of holding my breath on extra points. When the offense scores a touchdown, I want to celebrate, not hold my emotions in check and wait to make sure the Slye Dog puts it through the uprights. Now I know the extra point he missed Sunday was a little farther because of the penalty, but still, we are in a dome with no wind. You should not be missing kicks inside of 50 yards. I do not want to overreact over one game, but at the very least I believe we should bring in some competition to camp right now. (I hear Carli Lloyd just retired…)
The Rookies came to Play!
Although "The Seatbelt" Jaycee Horn did not play, the rest of the Panthers freshmen had themselves a day. Terrace Marshall A.K.A. Scary Terry looked good to say the least. He looked bigger than I thought and he showed his potential by taking his first NFL catch for 60 yards. He's a large frame, which is definitely going to help in the red zone, which continues to be a weak point in our offense. I thought Walker had him in the end zone, but slightly overthrew him. Hopefully, Sam has been practicing those throws. Do you want a bold overreaction preseason week one take? How about Scary Terry outperforms Chase/Waddle this year?? Only time will tell...
With CMC on the sideline we got our first look at Chubba Hubbard A.K.A. Chubba Hubba Max. I thought he had a couple good runs and he showed some patience in the backfield. If it wasn't for a holding penalty, I think he would've got into the end zone on one of those first couple drives. However he does need to work on catching the ball, as I noticed a couple drops, one of which cost some field position for a field goal at the end of the half. It's a good thing he shares a running back room with a certain someone who set the record for most catches by a running back two years in a row....
A couple other high points for the rookies were Tommy Tremble and Shi Smith. Tremble A.K.A. "T-Square" got the action started right off the bat by snagging a play action pass on his first play and then followed up with a nice touchdown catch in the end zone. Shi Smith (nickname TBD) was only targeted one time, but came down with a sweet catch down the sideline in between coverage and held on after being hit. Although David Moore is not a rookie, I thought he looked pretty solid hauling in a couple PJ Walker fastballs which leads me to believe we are deep at the wide receiver position!
As far as our rookie offensive linemen go, I believe Brady and Dwayne played well, considering I did not hear too much about them. It's never a good thing when you hear an announcer mention the name of a lineman multiple times. Usually, it's a result of a negative play. Keith Taylor was very active out there and considering the injury to Troy Pride Jr., he may see his playing time increase. Last but not least, "The Dude" Tommy Fletcher had a couple good snaps and I believe he had the fumble recovery off a muffed punt.
Back-up QB battle
Going into the first week of the preseason, there were rumblings of a battle for the back-up QB job. After watching yesterday's game, I have to believe PJ Walker has cemented himself, at least for right now, into that number 2 slot. He was running around the field making plays with his feet and his arm, while Will still looks like a lost QB out there. PJ is still a bit of a gunslinger who has to make better decisions, but I will take that over what I have seen from Will Grier over the past three years. Swing and a miss by Marty in the 3rd round a couple years ago. I will be interested to see if Will is even going to make the team. I wonder if we still possibly go out and snag a veteran QB just for a good locker room presence (Where is Derek Anderson when you need him?).
Red zone issues
I mentioned this when I spoke about Joey Slye, but my God how many possible field goals under 30 yards are we going to have to watch this year? This better just be a case of not having our starters out there, but it's unacceptable to kick four field goals in a game, especially when the Slye Dog has been shaky. Watching our offense on Sunday was a microcosm of the 2020 season; moving the ball up and down the field and getting stopped inside the red zone. I have to believe number 22 will have something to say about that, considering last year in the three games he played, he had six touchdowns. This was a main focus point for Rhule and Brady in the off-season, so I would like to see us build on that.
Overall there were definitely a lot of high points on Sunday, especially with the rookies. YGM and Marquis Hanes played well, with the latter creating a strip sack and recovering the ball himself. I know it's the preseason, but I hope the coaching staff looks hard at this loss, considering it was all to familiar a feeling from how we lost our 2020 games. All in all, I'm very excited to see the boys back on the field and looking forward to a good week of practice. I'm excited to possibly see the starters, especially Sam next week at the Ravens. Grab your popcorn because that's the moment and the player the fan base is dying to see perform. I hope we hold our overreactions aside (unless he hooks up with DJ Moore down the sideline for 75 yards on the first possession of course).