Halftime Notes from Panthers vs. Bills

Football is officially back as the Carolina Panthers took the field against the Buffalo Bills in their first preseason game. Unfortunately, it has been a fairly ugly half of football with the Panthers trailing the Bills 14-10 at the half.

  • Except for the final drive of the Carolina Panthers first team offense, it has been a sloppy game all around. The first two drives for the Panthers offense totaled 16 yards on only eight plays. Quarterback Cam Newton did struggle a bit in the early part of the game with his accuracy. One in particular was deep to Corey Brown which would have been a touchdown if he was able to get into his hands. However his final drive, he was dialed in with great throws to Ted Ginn Jr. down the sideline and then a back shoulder throw to Kelvin Benjamin for a touchdown.

 

  • Meanwhile the Panthers run game was non-existent. The team decided at the start of the game to hold out Jonathan Stewart which meant Fozzy Whittaker got the start. Whittaker got five carries in the early part of the game and was only able to muster three yards. In fairness though, the Bills had one of the best run defenses a season ago and they certainly looked the part in the preseason game.
  • The biggest positive from the Panthers though was the performance of the offensive line. The Bills have some excellent pass rushers and the offensive line did an excellent job of protecting Cam Newton and giving him enough time to make necessary throws. This is a great sign for a group that struggled mightily a season ago.

 

  • On the defensive side of the ball, it was pretty ugly as the Bills offense moved the ball almost at will. The Panthers defense was on the field for 22:45 of the first half and this was due to a dominating run game. The Bills ran the ball 25 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns. The passing game was on point as well with the two Bills quarterbacks combining for 12 completions on 16 attempts. To be fair though, the team was without three of their starting defensive linemen and Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis only played one series.

 

  • One thing that is worth watching as the preseason progresses is how Charles Tillman performs. He was back on the field for the first time in about 11 months and the Bills offense targeted him early. Tillman made the first tackle of the game off a run to the left side and Matt Cassel threw two consecutive passes, which were completed, in Tillman’s direction. The defense is going to need a strong season from Tillman if this group wants to be considered a top defense in the NFL.

 

  • For fans who will be watching the second half, it is going to be all about the rookies. It will be interesting to see how Devin Funchess, Cameron Artis-Payne and Daryl Williams performs. The one player in particular worth watching will be Artis-Payne. In the first half, Whittaker was ineffective and this will be a great chance for the rookie to move up the depth chart with a strong half of football.

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