Panthers Notebook

Panthers vs. Bears: Cam Newton, Jay Cutler throw interceptions in their NFL preseason opener

jjones@charlotteobserver.com jperson@charlotteobserver.comAugust 10, 2013 

If Friday night showed anything, it’s that the preseason is for getting all the turnovers out of your system before the regular season.

The Chicago Bears had a short field for most of the first half after the Panthers committed three turnovers in four possessions in the span of just more than 11 game minutes.

But the Bears were generous as well. Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler threw a pass in front of intended receiver Alshon Jeffery, who stopped on his route, and was picked off by Josh Norman. Midway through the second half, Anderson Russell recovered an Armando Allen fumble in the Carolina red zone.

For the Panthers, their turnovers came via two interceptions from two quarterbacks and a fumble on a rookie’s first touch. Cam Newton never looked away from tight end Greg Olsen on an underneath route and was intercepted by Jonathan Bostic, who returned it 51 yards for a touchdown.

In the second half, Derek Anderson short-armed a pass to Ted Ginn Jr., which was intercepted easily by Zackary Bowman. On the next possession, Anderson hit rookie sixth-round pick Kenjon Barner on a screen pass out of the backfield, but Barner choked up the ball before he got the first down.

No Ginn: Joe Adams, last year’s starting kick and punt returner for the majority of the season, fielded every punt in the first half. Armond Smith and Kealoha Pilares fielded the kickoffs.

Curiously, Ginn, who is first on the depth chart for both positions, was not back deep. He was acquired this offseason as a return specialist and a possible No. 3 receiver.

Adams returned two punts for 35 yards, including one for 23 yards. That would have been two yards longer than his best punt return during the 2012 regular season.

Smith returned two punts for 44 yards, and Pilares had one for 20 yards.

Injury report: Rookie fullback Mike Zordich left the game with a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. Zordich, an undrafted free agent from Penn State, was hurt while a covering a kickoff.

The Panthers had seven players who did not dress for the game because of injury: running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, receivers Domenik Hixon and James Shaw, linebacker Jon Beason, rookie guard Edmund Kugbila and cornerback Josh Thomas.

Defensive back D.J. Moore, a free-agent acquisition who played four seasons in Chicago, also was not in uniform.

Beason, who missed all four preseason games last year, is recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee. Stewart had offseason surgeries on both ankles.

OBSERVATIONS

• Anderson and Ginn had a hard time getting on the same page in the first half. Ginn appeared to cut a route short on one play. Later, Anderson short-armed a throw in the direction of Ginn and was picked off by Bowman.

• Strange seeing former Panthers LB James Anderson at Bank of America Stadium in a different uniform. Anderson, a salary-cap casualty during the offseason, helped set up Carolina’s first touchdown when he interfered with Olsen inside the Bears’ 5-yard line.

• Another longtime Panthers defender – end Julius Peppers, who famously shushed the BoA Stadium crowd three years ago – did not play Friday.

• The Panthers had a moment of silence before the game for former director of stadium operations Jon Richardson, who died last month following a long battle with cancer. Richardson, son of Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson, was 53.

• Charles Johnson and Thomas Davis combined for the lone Carolina sack of the first half. Johnson got the initial hit after rookie defensive tackle Kawann Short got good pressure on the interior of the line.

• The Panthers hosted nearly 25 former players for an alumni night. Some of the players included Kevin Donnalley, Wesley Walls, Steve Beuerlein, Frank Garcia and Mike Rucker.

• Brenton Bersin heard his name called among the starters before the game, but the third-team receiver was already standing among the other reserves. In an apparent mix-up, Bersin was announced just before Jordan Gross ran out of the tunnel.

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