The Carolina Panthers played their first preseason game on Thursday and it was against a very familiar team in the Buffalo Bills. They are familiar because the Bills have quite a few ex-Panthers players and have former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott as their head coach. For a preseason game, this was a highly anticipated matchup largely in part thanks to Kelvin Benjamin‘s comments about Cam Newton to the media earlier this week. Who doesn’t love a little preseason drama?
Carolina Panthers 28 – 23 Buffalo Bills
The Pregame Encounter
After Benjamin’s comments earlier in the week calling the Panthers a “bad fit from the start” and blaming Newton for the slow start to his career, everyone’s eyes were going to be on the two players. The two met during pregame warmups as Newton approached Benjamin on the Buffalo side of the field. It looks as if the encounter did not go so well, which was expected. You can judge for yourself:
— Matt Walsh (@MWalshMedia) August 9, 2018
But it wasn’t all awkward during pregame warmups. Benjamin excluded, plenty of former teammates and coaches reunited with each other in good faith.
A happy reunion between Star and the LBs pic.twitter.com/aSKLKKhhlz
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) August 9, 2018
- The Bills started second-year quarterback Nathan Peterman and he got off to a hot start connecting with Benjamin for a touchdown in their first offensive possession.
- Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey capped off a nine-play drive scoring on a 2-yard rush towards the end of the first quarter.
- Bills kicker Steven Hauschka connected on a 26-yard field goal halfway through the second quarter.
- Bills third-year running back Marcus Murphy rushed for a touchdown right before the half ended giving the Bills a 17-7 lead going into halftime.
- Panthers second-string quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw an absolute dime to Mose Frazier who found the end zone on a 26-yard pass.
- Panthers newest running back C.J. Anderson capped off a long 13-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run giving the Panthers their first lead, 21-17.
- Panthers third-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke led an impressive drive and finished with a 21-yard touchdown pass to running back Elijah Hood.
- Bills first-round pick quarterback Josh Allen connected with Ray-Ray McCloud III on a 14-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was no good and the Bills failed to recover their onside kick attempt.
- Final score: Panthers 28 Bills 23.
- Despite sputtering in their first possession, the Panthers first-string offense bounced back and looked good in the first quarter.
- Cornerback Kevon Seymour had a long day, figuratively and literally. The cornerback got burnt on a few different occasions including the touchdown to Benjamin early. Seymour saw snaps all the way up until the third quarter, which isn’t good in a preseason opener.
- Rookie wide receiver D.J. Moore looked as good as advertised finishing with 75 receiving yards on four receptions and made a couple nice open field jukes.
- Heinicke had the best game of all the quarterbacks going 7-9, 121 passing yards and one touchdown. He most certainly put a lot of pressure on Gilbert for the second-string quarterback position race.
- Second-year wide receiver Curtis Samuel picked up right where he left off last season before his injury. Samuel was consistently getting open and finished with four receptions and 45 receiving yards.
- Rookie linebacker Jermaine Carter continues to impress this summer. Carter had a terrific debut, recording a sack, tackle for loss and four tackles. On the other side, David Mayo struggled and missed a few tackles which may move Carter ahead of him in the depth chart.
- Shaq Thompson has been impressive in coverage all training camp and continued the trend as he recorded an interception in Thursday’s game.
- Fourth-year guard Greg Van-Roten got the start at left guard and played very well. Rookie Brendan Mahon also played well with the second unit which has to be reassuring after the injury to Amini Silatolu earlier this week.
- Offensive tackle Matt Kalil did not have the best of games in pass protection which is something to keep an eye on.
- Rookie linebacker Andre Smith pulled his hamstring and had to exit the game.
- Safety Damian Parms left the game with a shoulder injury.
- Cornerback LaDarius Gunter left the game and entered concussion protocol.
- Center Ryan Kalil (healthy scratch), linebacker Ben Jacobs (groin), guard Jerimiah Sirles (undisclosed), defensive end Julius Peppers (shoulder) and wide receiver Fred Ross (hip) all did not dress for Thursday’s game.
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