5 biggest surprises from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Phil Hoskins
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Phil Hoskins /
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Carolina Panthers
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Giovanni Ricci /

With the first preseason game of 2021 in the books, what were the biggest surprises from the Carolina Panthers’ 21-18 loss?

Preseason games are seen by most as unwatchable practices with sloppy mistakes and players no one knows or needs to remember. However, they can be a very helpful gauge as to just what teams have in their reserves, and Sunday’s clash between the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts was no exception.

Even if none of the true stars of either team came out to play, it was a great opportunity for young players to get the closest thing to a regular-season experience they have gotten up to this point.

It also provided borderline Panthers roster members a chance to show just what they were capable of and hopefully move the needle some towards a future spot on the 53.

While most things went according to the script for the Panthers on Sunday, there were a few big surprises, both good and bad, that deserve closer examination.

Surprise No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu /

Carolina Panthers LB play

One of the bright spots of a young and inconsistent defense was the linebacker play, especially from rookie Paddy Fisher. The former Northwestern star took over middle linebacker duties and ran the defense quite well, taking control and moving with authority.

Fisher communicated pre-snap and seemed to be around the ball consistently, even if he didn’t always make the big play. He finished with six tackles which was good enough for third on the day.

The former Wildcat shifted the defensive line, changing their positions to give the best matchup including one play where he got a misaligned player into his correct slot and showed a knack for sniffing out trick plays on a regular basis.

Another good performer was offseason addition Frankie Luvu. The former New York Jet showed good instincts and swarmed to the ball on running plays. Showcasing his athleticism and IQ on a sack where he just ran past the offensive line on a crucial fourth down.

As a whole, the replacement linebackers played well. The Panthers seem to be in good hands should one of their starters have to miss time this season and that is a position that hasn’t been a place of confidence in some time.