Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton throws 1st preseason TD, finds Ted Ginn Jr. on 61-yarder in Panthers’ win against Titans

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr (19) races past Tennessee Titans strong safety Da'Norris Searcy (21) on his way to a touchdown in the first half at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN during their pre-season game on Saturday, August 20, 2016. The Panthers won 26-16.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr (19) races past Tennessee Titans strong safety Da'Norris Searcy (21) on his way to a touchdown in the first half at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN during their pre-season game on Saturday, August 20, 2016. The Panthers won 26-16. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton lamented not scoring a touchdown in last week’s exhibition against the Ravens.

He took care of that in five plays against the Titans.

In Carolina’s 26-16 win against Tennessee Saturday, the Panthers’ first-team offense posted 10 points in 18 snaps while withstanding two three-and-outs.

“I think we started pretty fast, and that’s what you want to do,” Newton said. “Start fast and finish fast. I think we’ve still got to work on that finishing part. And it was a couple throws that I wish I had back. That’s just the nature of the game.”

Newton completed eight of 12 passes for 162 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown to Ted Ginn Jr. Newton looked sharp on most of his throws, getting two batted at the line.

Receiver Kelvin Benjamin had two catches for 29 yards, but he only played in eight snaps. The Panthers want Benjamin, who missed last season with a knee injury, to get in the neighborhood of 35 snaps by Week 1, and he’s still a long way from it.

Both teams endured a 30-minute delay because of lightning in the area late in the third quarter. They resumed play at 4:50 p.m. local time.

Three who mattered

Bene Benwikere: The cornerback had a rough start to training camp but kicked it into gear in the final week. He had a sack and an interception Saturday as he continues to gain confidence following ankle surgery in December.

Ted Ginn Jr: Ginn, 31, showed that age is just a number as he kicked on the burners for his 61-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. Antwon Blake badly missed the tackle and Ginn ran away from two Titans.

Zack Sanchez: Sanchez got his first NFL interception when he benefitted from an A.J. Klein deflection. The fifth-round pick didn’t see the field until the third quarter last week, but he got in during the first quarter against the Titans.

Observations

▪  Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota took a liking to Daryl Worley’s side of the field in the first half. No fewer than four passes were thrown in his direction as Mariota put together a solid outing despite one interception. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he would have liked to see Worley use better technique on some of those plays.

▪  Kudos to the PA staff at Nissan Stadium. During the weather delay, they played several rain-themed songs. They included “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” “Umbrella,” “Blame it on the Rain” and “I Can’t Stand the Rain.”

▪  New Panthers punter Kasey Redfern took kickoff duties from Graham Gano, who kicked the field goals and extra points. Carolina wanted to get Redfern’s kicking on tape.

▪  The Titans have themselves a player in Tajae Sharpe. The rookie receiver waited until the fifth round to be drafted after leading the nation in receptions (111) last season at UMass. He had six catches for 68 yards Saturday.

▪  When the linebacker doesn’t take the wheel route, it’s usually a great thing for the running back. Fozzy Whittaker went uncovered out of the backfield and caught a 36-yard pass from Derek Anderson in the second quarter.

Worth mentioning

▪  Defensive end Kony Ealy has long had issues with jumping offside. He did it again in the second quarter. Ealy had three offside penalties last year, and it’s an area of his game that could use work.

▪  Titans defensive back Marqueston Huff got a big hit on receiver Kevin Norwood’s ribs in the third quarter. Norwood got up relatively quickly, but he’s certain to feel that hit Sunday morning. Anderson walked over to Norwood on the field and appeared to apologize to him for leaving him out to dry.

▪  Receiver Brenton Bersin (back), safety Dean Marlowe (hamstring) and cornerback Teddy Williams (groin) all made the trip but did not dress in uniform or play.

▪  With a spate of injuries at safety, Daryl Worley was forced to play safety in the fourth quarter. Travell Dixon (chest) and Trenton Robinson (shoulder) were taken out of the game on special teams plays, and Marcus Ball missed a few snaps due to injury.

They said it

“After I made the guy miss, I knew there was only one guy to beat. Once I got past him I knew it was history. I can’t get caught from behind.” – Ginn on running away from defenders for his touchdown.

“Yes I did and the nice thing is he didn’t lower his shoulder. He just kind of accepted the tackle. I’m glad he did it now and save it for when we get to the regular season.” – Rivera on cringingly slightly when Newton was tackled for a gain of 1 yard.

“I don't think I can answer that question right now. I want to. I wish I could have a genie right up in front of you. That would make everybody's lives easy, right? But that's not how it works.” – Newton when asked if the Panthers can win the Super Bowl this season.

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9

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