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NOTEBOOK: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 14, CAROLINA PANTHERS 9

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Carolina Panthers ride DeAngelo Williams for 12 carries in preseason contest

PHILADELPHIA DeAngelo Williams is the only healthy every-down back the Panthers have right now, and Thursday night he lived up to the moniker.

Williams carried the ball 12 times within the Panthers’ first 27 offensive plays, gaining 39 yards with his longest carry going for 8 yards.

Carolina is down Jonathan Stewart, last year’s starter, for what will likely be all of the preseason as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery. The two backs have been the Panthers’ one-two backfield punch for the past five seasons.

Fullback Mike Tolbert has also been sidelined the first two games of the preseason. Tolbert, who last year carried the ball 54 times for 183 yards, tweaked his right hamstring during training camp. But he said earlier this week that if the regular season were to start, he would be available.

Those 12 carries are the most in a game by any Panthers back in the first two preseason contests. By comparison, Williams played in 12 games last year in which he did not get at least 12 carries.

“Maybe a couple less, but for the most part he ran hard, he did some nice things and picked up some good yardage for us,” Ron Rivera said.

He was finally spelled by Tauren Poole late in the second quarter when the Panthers were in the red zone.

GETTIS HANDY: One of David Gettis’ biggest issues has been catching the ball with his hands rather than trapping it with his chest. But he did plenty Thursday night to make that less of a concern.

Gettis made two good hands catches in the third quarter that boosted his chances to make the Panthers’ final 53-man roster.

He hauled in a 14-yard pass from Derek Anderson that was thrown behind him and made him turn around awkwardly at the sideline before being pushed out. Late in the third quarter he brought in another Anderson pass, this time a 23-yarder that put Carolina on the other side of midfield.

Gettis is considered to be on or near the cut line for the final roster. Gettis, Domenik Hixon, Joe Adams and Kealoha Pilares are fighting for roster spots, but Hixon and Adams missed Friday night’s game. Gettis said even though he may get more looks because of that, he doesn’t look at it as an advantage.

“I want those guys to come back as soon as possible because at the end of the day we’re family,” Gettis said. “I understand about the numbers, but we don’t think like that. We want to go out there and make plays.”

Gettis had 508 receiving yards during his rookie year in 2010 – fourth-most among all rookies that season. Thursday he finished with five receptions for 82 yards. He’s the Panthers’ leading receiver this preseason.

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 two turnovers in Thursday’s first half, stymied Philadelphia’s production.

• Linebacker Chase Blackburn played just one series after catching a helmet to his back. He said he had a back spasm, but he should be fine in a day or two, he said.

• 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.

• Speaking of rhythm, Ginn finally found some with his quarterback. After catching one ball last week despite being targeted by Anderson seven times, he brought in two passes from Newton for 39 yards out of three targets.

• Within the first three quarters, the Panthers top-three tight ends – Greg Olsen, Ben Hartsock and Brandon Williams – were all flagged for false starts.

• The last time the Panthers failed to score a touchdown in a preseason game was 2010. Carolina managed just a field goal against both the Jets and Steelers that preseason.

• 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 Week 1 starting quarterback is after Thursday night. Foles and Michael Vick, who entered the preseason game competing for the job, both played 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 5 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.

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

Complete Carolina Panthers coverage from The Charlotte Observer at CharlotteObserver.com/panthers
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