The plan was to get Cam Newton two series of play that included a handful of completions and hopefully a touchdown before sitting him at the end of the first quarter.
So when the Panthers’ offense had just eight plays in the first quarter, and Newton went just 1-for-6 for 15 yards, Panthers coach Ron Rivera called an audible.
Newton and the first-team offense remained on the field for the second quarter and went 80 yards in seven plays, concluding in a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin in Friday night’s 25-24 win against the Buffalo Bills.
And even though Newton wasn’t throwing to him, rookie receiver Devin Funchess had a big night. He suffered an early drop on a Derek Anderson pass but recovered with two catches for 53 yards.
Funchess’ 35-yard catch along the sideline was reviewed and ruled a catch after it showed he dragged both feet in bounds.
First-round pick and fellow rookie Shaq Thompson did not play as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain.
Three who mattered
Adarius Glanton: The outside linebacker sped around and was seemingly in on every play for the second-team defense as he racked up nine tackles.
Michael Oher: Carolina’s left tackle had a big task against Jerry Hughes, but he and the rest of the offensive line kept Cam Newton clean in the debut.
Brad Nortman: The punter didn’t do his unit many favors in the first half with low, line-drive punts. But he got better as the night went on and added some hang time to help a unit that struggled mightily in 2014.
▪ Defensive end Kony Ealy got beaten twice on bootleg plays by mobile quarterback Tyrod Taylor. It’s something the second-year player will need to work on.
▪ Linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly got only six snaps before calling it a night. The Panthers are confident those two know what they’re doing.
▪ Brenton Bersin and Jarrett Boykin are fighting for one receiver spot and both stood out. Bersin had a touchdown catch in the back of the end zone, and Boykin had a nice sideline catch for 19 yards.
Kurt Coleman and Roman Harper got the starts at safety. Coleman has been getting looks ahead of Tre Boston, last year’s starter, in recent training camp practices. ... Teddy Williams got the nod ahead of T.J. Heath at second-team cornerback and was beaten at least three times in coverage in the second quarter. Williams eventually went to the locker room with a neck injury ... Carolina’s first-team defense didn’t get much of a pass rush on the Bills and quarterback Matt Cassel, even though they were missing defensive end Charles Johnson who was tweeting from home in Charlotte.
Right tackle Mike Remmers came in as the second-team center, which normally isn’t good news for backup center Brian Folkerts. Backup quarterback Derek Anderson looked better in the game than he has in all of camp practice.
They said it
▪ “The reason I got that first penalty was because I was a little too hype.” – WR Kelvin Benjamin on his second-quarter taunting penalty.
▪ “(The first-team offense) only had eight plays. We were shooting for 12-15. Eight was not enough.” – Ron Rivera, on why Cam Newton and the starting offensive unit played into the second quarter.
▪ “I hate losing. That killed a pretty damned good day.” – Bills coach Rex Ryan