Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, August 15, 2021 7:38 pm

Colts 21, Panthers 18

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 7:38 pm
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As you might expect of the first preseason game, it was ugly; at one point each team had 7 penalties, and that was before Carolina’s third-string O-line committed false starts on three consecutive plays.

The starters didn’t play on either side of the ball, so today was an opportunity to get a hard look at the second- and third-stringers. Primarily for the Panthers, that meant no Sam Darnold or his likely offensive weapons. Whether Darnold will outperform his time with the Jets and become the franchise QB the Panthers need will remain unsettled for at least another week.

The second-string defense had some really good moments. DEs Yetur Gross-Matos and Marquis Haynes, who started, had some excellent play between them, including a strip-sack and fumble recovery by Gross-Matos. The secondary looked good in spots as well, although it gave up 116 first-half yards; safety Kenny Robinson had the team’s only interception. Daviyon Nixon and Bravvion Roy both showed they could play at DT. Linebacker depth remains a concern. And Frankie Luvu forced a turnover by sacking Colts QB Jacob Eason deep in his backfield on fourth down.

P.J. Walker had a decent first half at QB for the Panthers. He was only 10-for-21, but he racked up 161 yards passing, a decent half’s work, and didn’t turn the ball over. He hit rookie second-round pick Terrace Marshall three times on five targets, and Marshall converted for 88 yards, looking about as spectacular as he did in Draft Night tape. Will Grier in the second half was a significant drop-off from Walker, going 6-for-10 for 31 yards. Were it up to me, Walker is the backup and Grier ends up on the street. In O-line news, Brady Christensen looks like he’s at least good enough to back up Taylor Moton at RT (if Moton doesn’t end up moving to LT). Other than him, though, the O-line play was not good, particularly in the second half, which will not assuage fans’ fears that last year’s anemic run game and inadequate pass protection will recur. In fairness, the line likely would have looked better if G Dennis Dailey had played with the second team, but he was excused for the weekend to tend to a family matter.

Rookie RB Chuba Hubbard looked good in the first half, getting seven carries for 80 yards, most of which was on a 60-yard run on third and short. He ran into the pile, which consisted of collapsing Panther O-linemen, then bounced back out and around right end. He should have made it to the end zone, but one of the fleeter Colts caught up with him.

Thomas Fletcher, who’s being given a look at long snapper, gave the team no reason to replace stalwart J.J. Jansen with him, but he did recover a fumbled punt. For kicker Joey Slye, every kick was an adventure. He missed a 60-plus-yarder, although he was not short, and he missed an extra point. A couple of his field goals were just inside the uprights.

Without a single starter on either side of the ball, it’s difficult to make any sweeping pronouncements about the state of the team. The practices this week with the Baltimore Ravens, and the game next Saturday in which the starters will play, should give us a much better picture.

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