Now that we’ve had a day to digest the first preseason contest for the Carolina Panthers a bit I thought I’d share a few thoughts about last night’s game.
The special teams play on kickoff coverage was not good at all to say the least. Texans’ rookie Trendon Holliday had a
field gridiron day with several good returns, including a 90-yard sprint for a touchdown. He had 2 others for 66 additional yards. Kick coverage has been an issue for some time now and it needs to improve. Fast.
On the other hand, rookie Joe Adams showed off exactly how dangerous it looks like he’ll be. On the one punt return he had, I hope the coaches all had their blood pressure meds this morning because he turned a sideline-pinned position into a 15 yard loss into a 34 yard gain.
It was easily the most electrifying play for the Panthers the entire evening. Returns like that are reminiscent of a Dante Hall, if not in style but in results. No, I’m not saying Adams is the “second coming” here, but his one return was absolutely incredible. He showed a flash of the shiftiness that he was known for in college, then demonstrated his speed by running to the opposite sideline while giving up yardage so he could loop around them on the other side of the field.
He did exactly that until he was finally forced out of bonds by the last guy. I apologize, but I don’t recall who it was, but he had position and there was going to be contact without much possibility of further gain, so the lightest player on the entire team played it smart and decided not to press the issue.
Looking around as quickly as possible, Cam Newton had an ugly time converting one third and long with his legs. Oh, the run was as graceful as ever for the big guy as he took his long, smooth strides forward and past the first-down marker. It was his slide he needs to work on.
Imagine…what it looks like when a rug is literally pulled out from under someone. Larry of the Three Stooges taking a pratfall.
Seriously, he needs coaching on how to slide. As a kid who grew up playing baseball, I can tell you just from his slides that the man has never, ever played an inning of organized baseball in his life. Perhaps a relief pitcher, since they are almost never on base in the first place themselves, but I’m just not feelin’ the vibes here. He could (and eventually, he will) hurt himself if he doesn’t know how to do a basic slide. I could teach him in just a few minutes myself. You make the letter “4” with your legs, one folded underneath you, using it to control the crash as your rear end hits while making sure you don’t land on your leg. That’s really about it. Since, by rule, nobody can hit him once he starts sliding, maybe they should hire the local baseball coach as a tutor. It would be a wise investment.
Newton had an otherwise slow night in the air, but I’m not concerned there. He’ll be fine.
What did impress me was how recently-acquired WR Louis Murphy carried himself with his new team. He saw a little duty in the game and had a couple of very nice catches downfield. If he can play like that consistently, he may sneak on the field and make some plays in the regular season. He’s a veteran so his play was no fluke. I think he’s someone people may overlook, but wind up making some noise with Steve Smith being a big presence on the field.
It’s a little scary to think what might happen if aforementioned rookie Joe Adams can get out there with that duo, AND TE Greg Olson to boot…forget about the backfield threat! YIKES for defensive coordinators around the league, already. I’m sure they’re already watching.
Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly played like a seasoned star. Seriously. He had 5 tackles on the first 9 plays of the game and he made some really standout plays. When the Texans had a first and goal on their first series, Kuechly filled a gap and made just a slamming tackle on Ben Tate. On the Texans’ next possession, Kuechly tackled Arian Foster and forced a fumble right at midfield that teammate Sherrod Martin recovered.
“Clark Kent” was really a sight to see.
Otherwise, the reserves didn’t look very good. The run defense was pretty bad up the middle but the Panthers have a lot of players just getting their sea legs under them again. It’s too early to tell how the interior defensive line is going to shape up, but I see no positives there yet. It helps having Jon Beason and his experience there with Kuechly’s apparent early orbital-high ceiling. I’m excited about the kid and had been since before the draft. I’ll shut up now before I start sounding like some proud parent, but his play last night was highly encouraging to say the least.
The secondary looked flat, to be kind, but it’s just the first preseason game. All NFL coaches keep their playbooks pretty vanilla in the preseason so I have no huge issues with the team other than kickoff coverage. They were dead last in the league last year, and those multiple returns and a touchdown they allowed just cannot continue.