4 key observations from Carolina Panthers preseason win at Commanders

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Baker Mayfield /
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Carolina Panthers
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Rashard Higgins /

Carolina Panthers have a deep WR room

The Carolina Panthers have one of the league’s best receivers in D.J. Moore. Last season, however, it seemed that he was the only productive pass-catcher that could be counted on to create separation for the quarterback.

Against the Washington Commanders, the Panthers had plenty of receivers step up and make a name for themselves. Rashard Higgins, a six-year veteran from the Cleveland Browns, signed a one-year deal back in March and had a stellar debut, catching three passes for 22 yards and a score.

The wideout was one of Baker Mayfield’s top targets during the Browns’ electric 2020 season, finishing second on the team in receiving yards (599) and touchdowns (4). He also led all Cleveland pass catchers in the postseason that year with 116 receiving yards on seven catches.

While the two didn’t connect against Washington, there’s plenty of reason to believe their chemistry will carry into Carolina.

Shi Smith, who played in a limited role last season, was Mayfield’s favorite target on the opening drive, hauling in two third-down receptions for 34 yards. Brandon Zylstra and Keith Kirkwood shared similar success, finishing with a couple of receptions each for 32 and 38 yards, respectively.

Most NFL teams carry six receivers onto their roster. If that’s the case, the receiver room will look something like Moore, Robbie Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr., Higgins, Smith, and either Zylstra or Kirkwood.

That combination of receivers is shaping up to be the best that the Panthers have put together in quite some time.

Must Read. 4 major observations from Baker Mayfield’s preseason Carolina Panthers debut. light