Carolina Panthers @ Baltimore Ravens
CAR 0 3 6 3 12
BAL 3 7 7 0 17
2nd Qtr: John Kasay 37-yd FG
3rd Qtr: C.J. Wilson 31-yd Fumble Ret. (Kick failed)
4th Qtr: Kasay 45-yd FG
Jimmy Clausen, QB
It was pretty clear that Clausen had run a pro-style offense before. He showed great understanding of the game, making audibles at the LOS, making the correct progressions, and staying poised in the pocket in the face of adversity. However, he also showed he has a bit of a gunslinger mentality, forcing the ball into a few spots that he shouldn’t have gotten away with. Ironically, though, the interception wasn’t his fault, as his receiver fell after the release. Adding to the irony, the INT led to the only TD the Panthers managed on a FR the next play. As a whole, it was a good debut. Definitely nothing that would make me scream “Bench Matt Moore”, but there’s definitely a future there.
DeAngelo Williams, RB
It’s pretty clear that the Memphis product isn’t going anywhere. Against a Ravens team that’s built to stop the run, he broke off for a couple nice runs. He’ll still be pushed by Stewart when healthy, but if Stewart were to aggravate his injury or get a more serious one, then I would not hesitate drafting DeAngelo Williams in any format as high as 5th overall.
Tony Fiammetta, FB
Brad who? Fiammetta’s blocking skills were definitely on display, keying D-Will off on a couple nice runs. He also showed good receiving skills when called upon. He should be a valuable asset for the run game and a nice safety valve for Matt Moore this season.
Greg Hardy, DE
There’s a good chance he makes the roster this season. He was able to make a couple plays. I know it’s just the preseason, but this guy was a first-round talent that fell for some character concerns, and if he’s gotten his act together (falling to the 7th round would be good motivation), he could be a starter for a team really hurting for a replacement for Peppers, or at least a solid rotational guy.
Dexter Jackson, Brandon LaFell, Armanti Edwards, Dwayne Jarrett, WRs
Edwards and LaFell showed flashes, I’ll admit, but the Panthers went into this game looking for someone to step up as a potential #2 option behind Steve Smith for the regular season and left the game still looking. Terrible route-running, especially by Jarrett and Jackson. LaFell was plagued by drops, and it was clear that Edwards had never played WR before.
Jordan Gross, OT
Gross was called for multiple penalties, both false start and holding. What makes me worry isn’t Gross, who is a very talented LT, but more the fact that the umpire placement definitely had an impact for the game. It’s pretty obvious that the OL won’t be able to get away with nearly as much stuff as they have been.
Tony Pike, QB
Didn’t get his chance until midway through the 4th quarter, and he didn’t last long. Underthrew an open target badly on his first attempt. May be the odd man out in Carolina, as there’s a very small chance they’ll keep 4 QBs on the roster.
Long Snapper and Holder
Muffed both an XP exchage (causing a missed XP try) and a FG attempt at the end of the half (which led to an emergency scramble). Good chance they’ll practice the exchange around 100,000 times in practice this week.
Overall, I worry about the Panthers a little bit after this game. They still lack a #2 WR, and if Smith gets hurt again, whoever starts at QB will be REALLY hurting for passing targets. Without Steve Smith, this WR core rivals the '09 Dolphins and '09 Browns in anemia. Tyler Brayton looked good as a pass rusher, but he was injured in the game. It didn’t look serious, but sometimes they can be disguised.
1st Qtr: Shayne Graham FG
2nd Qtr: Joe Flacco 30-yd TD Pass to Mark Clayton (Billy Cundiff kick)
3rd Qtr: Troy Smith 8-yd rush (Cundiff kick)
Terrence Cody, DL
Anyone wondering why the Ravens selected the mammoth from Alabama should wonder no more. Cody showed amazing strength and run support through the whole game, at one point holding off Pro Bowl C Ryan Kalil with one arm and tackling D-Will for a loss with the rest of his body. He also had a couple nice hurries on Jimmy Clausen, although obviously, at 350+ pounds, his pursuit was suspect. If he can stay in shape, he and fellow mammoth Haloti Ngata could give Ravens fans déjà vu, seeing flashes of Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa.
Joe Flacco, QB
The first-team offense threw a ton against the Panthers, and it was pretty obvious why. Joe Flacco looks much improved from last season, a season where he led his team to a road playoff victory. His over the middle accuracy, while still somewhat erratic, looked better, and the long TD to Clayton made it obvious that he hasn’t lost his deep ball. Can’t wait to see what this offense looks like when they have everyone (notably Ray Rice).
Prince Miller, CB
Miller in most circumstances shouldn’t be a starting CB, but he may be in Baltimore. He played pretty well at CB, although he was helped by Carolina’s WR play (or lack thereof). He definitely has a shot at the nickel job. However, his impact will be felt most on special teams. Zbikowski will likely be the primary PR, but Miller definitely showed he could do the job if called upon. As of right now, the odds of him making the roster are better than 1/7.
Haroki Nakamura, DB
Another player whose presence will be felt mostly on special teams, Nakamura showed some flashes as a potential dime corner. His best play was stripping Tyrell Sutton less than 1 yard from the end zone. Definitely a guy you want on kick coverage.
Marc Bulger, QB
This guy has seen the barrel of the gun way too many times. He showed some flashes of the QB he used to be, but those days are behind him. He hasn’t lost his turnover-prone ways, and shouldn’t be more than an emergency QB/mentor for Flacco, which is what he was brought in for. Troy Smith has every opportunity to supplant him on the depth chart, and based on last night, I’d say he’s well on his way.
Before the preseason started, I liked the Ravens as my Super Bowl Champion pick. After this first game, there’s been nothing to change my mind. The first team offense and defense absolutely manhandled the Panthers. The only thing I worry about is the secondary. Although Zbikowski was solid, they really need Ed Reed back. He brings a whole new dimension to that defense. Also, Washington and Foxworth need to step up big time this season. That being said, I think the potential for 12 wins is there, and they are definitely one of a handful of teams with serious Super Bowl aspirations.
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