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

scrimmage.

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

Kasay.

”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

arms.

”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

a scrimmage.

”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

America Stadium.

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