There may not have been a player who had a better performance for the Carolina Panthers in their second preseason game than Bene Benwikere. The veteran cornerback finished the game with an interception and a sack in limited time against the Tennessee Titans.
This is a great sign for a player who would certainly have every reason to consider this offseason a bit of a disappointment. Entering training camp, it appeared that Benwikere was set to be the starting cornerback on the outside however while on the PUP list, the two rookies (James Bradberry and Daryl Worley) played exceptionally well. Once Benwikere returned, he was moved inside to nickel.
While this may not be what Benwikere hoped for entering this season, he makes this defense stronger as the nickelback. The Panthers spend a majority of their time in the nickel defense so they should feel good that they can solidify it with Benwikere.
One player who was most likely on the roster bubble was Kevin Norwood and he needed a game like the one he had against the Titans. He finished the game with three receptions, 31 yards and one touchdown. The touchdown was his first as a Panther and also came after he suffered a bone-jarring hit on the previous drive. The fact that Norwood was able to come back and on the next drive come across the middle to make the play, should help his confidence the rest of the preseason.
Norwood is in a tough competition for that final wide receiver spot on the roster with Brenton Bersin and Damiere Byrd. Prior to the Titans game, he was most likely third in this group but with Bersin sitting out due to injury, he got an opportunity to show what he can do. At this point in the preseason, it is hard to pick a front runner.
The three quarterbacks for the Panthers collectively had an impressive, nearly flawless, performance against the Titans. Cam Newton set the tone for this offense going 8 for 12 for 162 passing yards and one touchdown in the first four drives. The Panthers then turned to Derek Anderson, who went 12 of 20 for 118 yards and one touchdown and Joe Webb finished the game completing all five of his passing attempts for 60 yards and one touchdown.
The three quarterbacks were a combined 25 of 37 for 340 passing yards and three touchdowns. The better number for these quarterbacks is zero, which is how many turnovers they have and how many times they were sacked.
Everyone knows that as long as Cam Newton is on the field, this is going to be one of the better offenses in the league. However, the Panthers have the luxury of knowing that they have capable quarterbacks behind him in Anderson and Webb if the need were to arise. This is not something that many teams in the NFL can say.
Panthers' Run Game
The one thing that the Panthers haven't been able to really get going this preseason has been their run game. Against the Baltimore Ravens, the Panthers' running backs combined for 38 rushing yards on 22 rushing attempts but they were without Jonathan Stewart in that game.
However, Stewart was able to return against the Titans but once again the Panthers run game really couldn't get anything going combining for 53 rushing yards on 17 carries. The Panthers' only had one run that went for over 10 yards, which was by Brandon Wegher, who had a 11-yard run.
The run game has always been a key part of the Panthers' offense and been successful, finishing second in the NFL in rushing yards last year. The Panthers will most likely try to get this group into rhythm against the New England Patriots Friday night.