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Tom Talks


Panthers’ Benjamin, defense impressive against Bills

By Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen has been a columnist at The Observer for about three decades, writing about nearly every sport in the Carolinas.
Jeff Siner -
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) is congratulated by quarterback Derek Anderson (3) and tight end Greg Olsen (88) following his touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills Friday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Rarely is an exhibition game good. All you can hope for is a few good plays and, perhaps, a great one.

Rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin supplied a great one early. Benjamin raced down the left side and lost his feet. As he stumbled to the end zone turf, he grabbed Derek Anderson’s pass for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Obviously the Carolina-Buffalo encounter was merely an exhibition and training camp is merely training camp. But Benjamin has been outstanding since he reported to Spartanburg.

In camp he’s caught almost everything thrown in his way. At least one pass was thrown toward the bleachers. Benjamin tracked the ball down, at least five yards out of bounds, and caught it, too.

The Panthers had one other moment. They opened the game with a goal-line stand. The Bills had worked their way down field on their first drive as if they were on the Bank of America turf by themselves.

After six plays they had the ball first and 10 on Carolina’s 11. They had the ball third and 1 on the Carolina 2.

Then the Panthers stuffed Fred Jackson for no gain. On fourth down they stuffed him again.

There was one development in the first half that was not impressive and ought to worry Panthers fans. Buffalo’s defensive line overwhelmed Carolina’s offensive line. Even when head coach Ron Rivera sent the starters back in to supplant the backups, Buffalo’s second-team line handled Carolina's first team.

In the first half the Panthers rushed 10 times for 17 yards. Take away two scrambles by Derek Anderson and the Panthers rushed eight times for seven yards.

Kenjon Barner did most of the work. After running for eight yards on his first carry, he rushed five times for negative three yards. Every time he was hit, he went down.

Again, I don’t want to place too much emphasis on the first exhibition. But if the line can’t open holes, and the Panthers can’t run, quarterback Cam Newton really will have to be Superman this season.

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