The best part about Cam Newton’s day on Sunday was how well he distributed the ball in Carolina’s 24-7 win over Detroit. Although in practice and in his brief exhibition appearances it was obvious Newton loves to throw the ball to tight end Greg Olsen and rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, on Sunday he had nine completions to the crafty veteran wideout duo of Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant. His only TD throw also came to Avant.
• Benjamin, meanwhile, had a “rookie” kind of day. He had two nasty drops, got his hands on another overthrown ball but couldn’t come down with it, and ultimately caught only two of the eight passes thrown his way.
One of those, though, showed Newton’s trust in Benjamin. After a bad drop by Benjamin on a 15-yard slant, the quarterback went right back to the rookie. On a much tougher play, Benjamin made a one-handed catch on the sideline for 24 yards.
• Graham Gano had quite an afternoon – and he even talked to another trombonist. After his brief controversy last week, when Gano pushed a trombonist out of the way to practice his halftime kicks in Tampa. This time he talked to a trombone player from Appalachian State’s band (which performed at halftime) in the pregame and had a laugh about last week’s incident. “I love the bands,” Gano said.
Gano also made a 53-yard field goal, as well as ones from 29 and 38 yards. And, for the first time in his career stretching back to high school, he recovered a fumble on one of his kickoffs.
• Detroit kicker Nate Freese, meanwhile, sounds like he’s about to get fired after missing two field goals – both from 49 yards.
• Calvin Johnson was worth the price of admission, but the Panthers did make him look human. Stafford looked for him constantly and he made a couple of ridiculous catches. But “Megatron” also dropped a catchable ball while sliding into the end zone. And the Panthers double-covered him on one deep ball and got an interception off a tip. Johnson was targeted 13 times but only caught six for 83 yards, or about half the yardage he had in Week 1.