In loss, Newton and Ginn find rhythm in second preseason game

jjones@charlotteobserver.comAugust 15, 2013 

— A week after coming up with just one catch for 17 yards despite being targeted seven times, Ted Ginn Jr. picked up two big first-down gains in the first quarter for the Panthers.

Ginn, who was acquired by the Panthers this offseason to compete for the No. 3 wide receiver position, picked up 23 yards when the Eagles’ coverage broke down early in the game and then grabbed a 16-yarder late in the first quarter.

Ginn played primarily with backup quarterback Derek Anderson last week against the Bears, and the two had trouble finding their rhythm. Ginn’s speed can fool not only opposing defenses, but also his own quarterback.

But with Armanti Edwards and Domenik Hixon sidelined Thursday, Ginn got his chance to play with Newton, and the lone throw that went incomplete was a 3-and-4 in the second quarter that was covered well by Philadelphia.

Ginn did not return kicks or punts for a second consecutive preseason game. Ron Rivera has said the staff knows what it has in Ginn, first on the depth chart, and wants to see what the other players have.

WORKHORSE WILLIAMS: DeAngelo Williams showed his durability Thursday night when he carried the ball 12 times within the first two quarters.

Williams, the only first-string running back who is healthy, finished his night with 39 yards, with his longest rush being eight yards.

By comparison, Williams played in 12 games last year in which he did not get 12 carries.

He was finally spelled by Tauren Poole late in the second quarter. Running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle) isn’t expected to return this preseason and fullback Mike Tolbert is still nursing a hamstring injury.

INACTIVES: The Panthers were without a dozen players for Thursday night’s game.

LB Jon Beason (knee), LB Jordan Senn (leg), G Edmund Kugbila (hamstring), WR Joe Adams (calf), WR Armanti Edwards (hamstring), FB Mike Tolbert (hamstring), RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle), DT Frank Kearse (knee), T Bruce Campbell (shoulder), CB James Dockery (thumb), WR Domenik Hixon (hamstring) and FB Michael Zordich (knee) were all inactive.

Observations

• Thursday night’s game was reminiscent of last year’s Panthers-Eagles matchup in Philadelphia. Nick Foles went 16-of-21 for 119 yards in 2012 while Bryce Brown rushed for 178 yards on the ground. But three fumbles by the Eagles in last year’s game, much like the three turnovers in Thursday’s first half, stymied Philadelphia’s production.

• Rick Patterson, the side judge for the game, is a Wofford College alumnus.

• Though Cam Newton and Steve Smith seemed to be on the same page during training camp, the quarterback threw high to his favorite target twice in the second series. The second throw, which came on a 3-and-20, was nearly intercepted.

• Within the first two series, both tight ends – Greg Olsen and Ben Hartsock – were flagged for false starts.

• Eagles running back LeSean McCoy juked Drayton Florence and, to a lesser extent, Thomas Davis on a 21-yard rush in the first quarter that put the Eagles in the red zone. McCoy rushed left, then stopped on a dime and cut right before going down.

• It’s unlikely Eagles coach Chip Kelly will know who his the Week 1 starting quarterback is after Thursday night. Both Foles and Michael Vick, who entered the preseason game competing for the job, played quite well in the first half.

• Armond Smith and Kealoha Pilares had some miscommunication on the final kick of the first half. It appeared Pilares was ready to field the kick five yards deep in the end zone, but Smith stepped in front of Pilares, didn’t catch the ball cleanly and returned it to the 11-yard line.

• The third-string quarterback match would have been must-see TV back in 2007. Eagles QB Matt Barkley and Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen were both heavily touted as the “next big thing” as high school quarterbacks in southern California. Now, both are fighting for snaps in preseason.

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9

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