Panthers passing game struggles in scrimmage
Much of the talk during the first 1 1/2 weeks of training camp
focused on the improvements the Carolina Panthers made in the
passing game after finishing 27th in the league last year.
However, it didn’t look that way at Saturday’s Fan Fest
The first-team offense managed just two first downs in three
possessions as quarterback Matt Moore finished 4 of 9 for 26 yards
while an experienced offensive line looked out of synch and allowed
regular pressure from the second-team defense.
The second-team offense wasn’t any better. Led by quarterbacks
Hunter Cantwell and Jimmy Clausen, it managed just one first down
during its 12-play sequence.
The only points of the scrimmage came when the third-team
offense managed to get in field goal range for veteran kicker John
”The defense was ahead of the offense,” coach John Fox said.
”But I think that’s typical every year. But I’m pleased with the
effort and pleased we got through healthy.”
Although Carolina’s offense was without wide receiver Steve
Smith, right tackle Jeff Otah and three of their top four running
backs, the outcome was still a little surprising.
Carolina’s passing game had looked sharp throughout camp, moving
the ball with regularity against a restructured defense that’s
trying to replace six starters from last year’s team.
”If you look at training camp, the offense has done a good job
of establishing the run against us and pushing us around and being
pretty dominant,” said Pro Bowl linebacker Jon Beason. ”But now
you come out here today and it’s the first live situation where
it’s no holding back and for us to come out here and dominate –
well, that’s very encouraging for us.”
Things might have been different had Moore completed a long bomb
to wide receiver Kenny Moore, but that potential big gainer ended
with the ball slipping just out of the receiver’s outstretched
”I thought I had it for a second,” Kenny Moore said.
Matt Moore, whose only first-down completions went to Wallace
Wright and Dwayne Jarrett, said it’s important not to read too much
into one scrimmage.
The Panthers have a bigger test Thursday night when they open
the preseason at Baltimore.
”There were some little things, but correctable stuff,” Moore
said. ”I can’t even put my finger on what exactly it was. But we
completed some balls and moved the chains a little. But we’ll learn
from some things out here. But I’m not disappointed at all.”
Offensive tackle Jordan Gross said the first-team offensive
line, which is supposed to be one of the strengths of the team,
didn’t have a very good day.
”Well, you want to go out and score 12 touchdowns if you’re
going to run 12 plays — and we were a long way from that,” Gross
said. ”But it’s a little bit of a test where we’re at. We
definitely have more work to do. I was happy to see our defense do
so well because I know it’s a question a lot of people have.”
Gross said it makes no sense to read into Moore’s statistics for
”If he would have thrown 10 touchdowns I wouldn’t be saying
that he’s the MVP of this league either,” Gross said. ”So it’s
OK. It’s no big deal.”
For Clausen, the team’s highly-regarded second-round draft pick
out of Notre Dame, it was his first time playing inside Bank of
Clausen said he had a few butterflies Saturday morning.
”A little bit, sure,” Clause said. ”I was excited to come out
of that tunnel for the first time, hopefully the first of many
times. But it was a good day out here. It was excited to see all of
the fans come out and support the Panthers.”
The Panthers have Sunday off and return to training camp in
Spartanburg, S.C., on Monday