Williams on offense: we're definitely excited

Now we have a pretty good idea of why Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was so giddy last week. Smith bubbled with excitement when talking about new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson's game plan heading into Sunday's regular-season opener against the St. Louis Rams. And it turns out Smith's enthusiasm was warranted.

The Panthers ran up 387 yards and Jake Delhomme threw for three touchdowns, including a 68-yarder to Smith, in a 27-13 win over the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.

That victory helped the Panthers jump out to an early lead in the NFC South with Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans all losing. It also gives them plenty of optimism about their new offensive scheme heading into Sunday's home opener against the Houston Texans.

"It's so easy for us to come out here and say, 'Oh we're doing this different or we're doing that different (than the preseason),'" Delhomme said. "... But the thing is, when guys feel good about a game plan, you have the confidence going into the game."

The Panthers were confident they were going to run the football, just not right away.

Davidson believed the best way to get things going was to get the ball in the hands of his best playmaker, Steve Smith. He was the intended receiver on Delhomme's first five passes on an opening drive that went 78 yards in nine plays for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

After that, the Panthers went to the running game, looking to pound it out behind hard-charging DeShaun Foster. They sputtered a bit in the second quarter, but eventually wore down the Rams, running 38 times for 189 yards.

The Panthers had six runs of 10 yards or more -- three each by Foster and DeAngelo Williams.

"We knew what we were going to be able to do," Foster said. "We just wanted to get out there and execute."

Granted, Carolina's enthusiasm should be tempered by the fact this mammoth offensive effort came against the league's 31st-ranked defense last season -- remember, the Panthers ran for 242 yards last year against the Rams -- but it does give them confidence in what Davidson is selling as they move forward this season.

"Oh yeah, we're definitely excited," said Williams. "You get the opportunity to choose your own hole in this offense and zone scheme. We have the offensive linemen to do it and they open up some gaping holes. I mean you can't do anything but run through them."

Said Foster: "This offense just fits me well."

It seems to fit everyone.

The quarterback likes it, the running backs like it, the receivers and tight ends like and the offensive linemen, well, they find it more appetizing than a giant steak.

"We started off the preseason looking really good," said tackle Jordan Gross. "And it went down hill from there. I never was doubting what we could do, I was just anxious to do it. The game plan was great. We're putting the players in position to make good plays."

That hasn't always been the case in Carolina.

"I think they built the offense around what we're good at," Gross said.

The nice part, said Smith, is the Panthers have barely begun to flip through Davidson's extensive playbook, and he thinks the best is yet to come.

"We still didn't use about 20 plays that are still sitting in the playbook from this game, that we possibly have carryover that teams didn't see," Smith said. "Just to say that, that shows have deep this playbook can be."

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