Cat Tracks at Atlanta

QUARTERBACK

It's hard to find a lot of fault in the performance of rookie Chris Weinke, in fact, this spot is about the least of the Panthers' worries at this point. Once again, Weinke showed great poise and the ability to bounce back quickly from mistakes. There were a couple of occasions where the ball went one way and the receiver the other; a product of miscommunication. Yes, Weinke is a rookie. CAT TRACKS: 3 PAWS (out of 4)

RUNNING BACK

Tshimanga Biakabutuka ran 15 yards into open field and lost the ball. He has likely lost his job as well. He pulls down the score that Nick Goings ran up the rest of the way, banging to 57 yards on 15 carries. Can we throw Chris Weinke's 5-yard touchdown run in here? It's the Panthers first TD run of more than 1 yard since December 26, 1999 when Fred Lane went 41 against Pittsburgh. CAT TRACKS: 2 PAWS

RECEIVERS

Another big day for Muhsin Muhammad with 10 catches for 132 yards. Donald Hayes had 6 catches and Isaac Byrd 3. But, the usually reliable Muhammad dropped one that was right in his hands in the first quarter that would have been a touchdown, forcing the Panthers to settle for a field goal instead. They rarely looked for tight end Wesley Walls, and when they did, the Falcons had him covered. Walls failled to catch a pass for the first time in 71 games played. CAT TRACKS: 3 PAWS

OFFENSIVE LINE

The rebuilt unit gave up just 2 sacks of Weinke, that's a vast improvement over a year ago. But, they're still a work in progress when it comes to the running game...gaining just 89 yards on the ground. CAT TRACKS: 2 1/2 PAWS

DEFENSIVE LINE

Jamal Anderson ran for 98 yards and they got very little pressure on the quarterbacks (even though Jay Williams did sack the elusive Michael Vick once). Then there were the offsides penalties!!! Ouch! CAT TRACKS: 1/2 PAW

LINEBACKERS

The young linebacking corps was bitten on numerous occasions here, sometimes in over-pursuit or not recognizing fakes, etc. CAT TRACKS: 1 PAW

DEFENSIVE BACKS

What happened to the backfield that shut down Randy Moss two weeks ago? This was a perfect example of the hazards of youth, the Falcons did a wonderful job with play-calling and keeping them off balance. The Falcons coverted 8-11 third downs, most to wide open receivers. Atlanta quarterbacks were 13-16 in the passing department. Then, there were the touchdowns to Tony Martin and Jamal Anderson...how did they get so wide open? CAT TRACKS: 0 PAWS

SPECIAL TEAMS

John Kasay was 3-3 in field goal attempts, which is good news and bad news...it means the Panthers couldn't get from the red zone to the end zone. Exciting return man Steve Smith was contained by Atlanta, but the hit of the day belonged to Jerrod Cooper when he slammed punt returner Darrien Gordon just after he fielded a punt at the Falcons' 6. CAT TRACKS: 2 1/2 PAWS

COACHING

What a difference a day makes. Offensively, the Panthers had a pretty good plan, and executed it relatively well. The defense was another story. The Falcons were better prepared, they picked up tendencies off pre-season game tape and took full advantage of them. There were numerous offside penalties, as the defense showed little of the discipline they did against Minnesota. CAT TRACKS: 2 PAWS


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