Panthers backup QB Anderson injures hand in 10-0 preseason win vs. Steelers
08/28/2014 9:37 PM
08/29/2014 7:48 AM
Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson's adventures in football and fatherhood began in a delivery room Wednesday evening in Charlotte and ended in a training room at Heinz Field on Thursday night.
With starting quarterback Cam Newton on the sideline with cracked ribs, an injury to Anderson's right hand in the second quarter left the Panthers with one healthy quarterback.
Thank goodness for Joe Webb.
With Webb mostly handing the ball to Fozzy Whittaker and attempting an occasional pass, the Panthers beat Pittsburgh 10-0 and, more importantly, managed to escape without further incident or injury.
Other than that, there wasn't much to learn from an exhibition in which both teams rested eight starters and showed only a glimpse of their playbooks, mindful of their Week 3 matchup in Charlotte in game that counts.
The Panthers went 2-2 in the preseason, and will head to Tampa Bay for the season opener Sept. 7.
Newton said this week he has no doubt he'll play against the Buccaneers, but he was a spectator Friday. Fourth-team quarterback Matt Blanchard also was out after sustaining a concussion last week.
That left Webb and Anderson, whose wife, Mallory gave birth to the couple's first child -- a daughter named Amelia -- on Wednesday. After sleeping for 90 minutes Wednesday night, Anderson caught a commercial flight to Pittsburgh on Thursday morning and was running on fumes and caffeine.
Anderson was still wearing the hospital band on his wrist after the game.
"It was pretty cool. It was special to me. Obviously, it shows (Panthers officials) care about you, to be able to be there and allow me to do that and then come here," Anderson said. "It was a little different. Hopefully, I don't have to do that again and hopefully it's not during a regular-season game. But it was special."
Anderson bruised his hand on a broken play with nine minutes left in the second quarter.
When third-team center Brian Folkerts' high snap zipped through Anderson's hands and rolled 18 yards behind him, Anderson tried to scoop the ball up. Instead, Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones ended up with the ball and Anderson ended up out of the game when someone stepped on his hand.
X-rays were negative, and Anderson was on the sideline with his hand wrapped for the second half. Anderson completed 8-of-14 passes for 98 yards and led the Panthers to a field goal on their opening possession.
It would have been a touchdown, but rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin couldn't hang on to Anderson's well-placed pass on a fade route in the end zone.
Anderson said he had a nap at the team hotel before the game, but was pretty tired.
"I was telling Joe I missed some throws that I have no business missing," Anderson said. "But under the circumstances I think I did all right."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was complimentary of Anderson and Webb, the former Minnesota quarterback who completed 8 of 11 passes for 116 yards.
"The quarterback play was pretty doggone good," Rivera said. "It was pretty efficient and very effective, and some good things happened."
Webb made a final case for the Panthers to keep three quarterbacks. He hit rookie Philly Brown on a 53-yard strike to set up the game's lone touchdown -- Whittaker's 2-yard run.
In the four exhibitions, Webb was 29-of-46 for 387 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
"I think I gave it my all. That's all you can do. You get the opportunity, put your best foot forward. Then everything else will take care of itself," Webb said. "You can't worry about who they're going to keep, who they're going to release. That's when you don't play your best game."
In addition to Newton, the Panthers gave eight other starters or regulars the night off.
The list included linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, defensive end Greg Hardy, center Ryan Kalil, running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and tight end Greg Olsen, who was back in Charlotte following his son's open-heart surgery this week.
The starting secondary was together for the first time this preseason as strong safety Roman Harper returned from turf toe to join free safety Thomas DeCoud and cornerbacks Melvin White and Antoine Cason.
But after a series, Panthers coach Ron Rivera pulled his first-team defensive backs from the game, as well.
The Steelers also sat many of their starters, most notably quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"That's the end of August football," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Not the type of finish we wanted, but nevertheless it's the end."
Whittaker was a workhorse, carrying 23 times for 91 yards. Benjamin caught four passes for 56 yards -- all in the first half.
But the story was the Panthers' quarterbacks.
"I know he hasn't had much sleep," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said of Anderson. "You factor in that, that was a heck of a game. He played really well the time he was in there, then Joe came in and did a great job."
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