Cam Newton had his best game of the season and looked to have regained his mobility, something he didn’t show much of so far. Newton finished the day completing 29 of 46 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball 17 times against the Bengals for 107 yards and one rushing touchdown. This was the Panthers first 100+ yard rushing game this season.
The other big positive from his game against the Bengals was that he limited the negative plays with only one interception and no sacks. The Panthers offense is not explosive so it is very important that Newton keeps the negative plays to a minimum.
The Panthers gave running back Fozzy Whittaker the start this week against the Bengals with rookie Darrin Reaves serving as the team’s back-up. Whittaker was able to get in the endzone on a four-yard run in the third quarter but that was about the extent of what these two backs were able to do.
The two combined for 40 yards rushing and 31 yards receiving with the majority of the receiving yards coming on a 23-yard reception by Whittaker. Hopefully the Panthers will be able to get back Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams soon and they can provide some balance to this offense.
The top three wide receivers (Kelvin Benjamin, Jason Avant, and Jerricho Cotchery) were much more active this week than in weeks past. The rookie wide receiver finished the day with the most receptions (7) and the lone touchdown for this position. However, Cotchery was the big play receiver with four receptions and 58 yards receiving, averaging 14.5 yards per reception.
A good sign from this week was Kelvin Benjamin’s touchdown, when he took a huge hit from a Bengals defender who tried to dislodge the ball. The rookie wide receiver has struggled with drops this year and it was good to see him make the catch and hold on for the touchdown. This was a step in the right direction.
It seems like a broken record but once again Greg Olsen was the team’s best receiving option. He finished the day with six receptions for 62 yards and one touchdown. He was clearly hobbled by an ankle injury but was able to play through it and was very effective.
One thing to note is that the other two tight ends (Ed Dickson and Brandon Williams) were not very involved, with each receiving only one target. However Williams hauled in his target for a 16-yard reception. Williams is an athletic tight end and I like his potential. It would not be a surprise to see him become more involved as the season progresses.
The offensive line had probably their best game of the season against the Bengals. They did a good job of keeping the Bengals front seven at bay and giving Newton time to work, whether through the air or on the ground. The Bengals defense was not able to register a sack and only got four QB hits on Newton.
This group is starting to come together and has looked much better with rookie Trai Turner in the lineup. This is the second week in a row that he has played significantly at right guard and should have solidified his claim on the starting spot going forward.