3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game


3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Jalen Julius

Who were the big winners and losers from the Carolina Panthers’ first preseason game at the Indianapolis Colts?

After three weeks of training camp practices, fans were finally able to see the first glimpses of game action by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in their first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

As expected, no Panthers starters suited up and will have to wait at least another week or two before head coach Matt Rhule decides to have them play some snaps in the preseason.

In the 20-18 loss, the game felt exactly as you’d expect with backups playing for both teams. It was the definition of a tale of two halves.

However, it was an opportunity to shine for many players looking to make the 53-man roster and many did. But there were some who also struggled.

From the team standpoint, one of the biggest struggles from third-down efficiency, as Carolina went just 3-for-14 on third-downs. They also had to settle for multiple field goals, sparking some flashbacks to last year when the red zone offense was one of the Panthers biggest weaknesses.

The defense looked solid but should also be taken with a grain of salt facing the Colts backups.

With that said, here are three winners and three losers from Carolina’s first taste of NFL action this summer.

3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Jalen Julius

Who were the big winners and losers from the Carolina Panthers’ first preseason game at the Indianapolis Colts?

After three weeks of training camp practices, fans were finally able to see the first glimpses of game action by the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in their first preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.

As expected, no Panthers starters suited up and will have to wait at least another week or two before head coach Matt Rhule decides to have them play some snaps in the preseason.

In the 20-18 loss, the game felt exactly as you’d expect with backups playing for both teams. It was the definition of a tale of two halves.

However, it was an opportunity to shine for many players looking to make the 53-man roster and many did. But there were some who also struggled.

From the team standpoint, one of the biggest struggles from third-down efficiency, as Carolina went just 3-for-14 on third-downs. They also had to settle for multiple field goals, sparking some flashbacks to last year when the red zone offense was one of the Panthers biggest weaknesses.

The defense looked solid but should also be taken with a grain of salt facing the Colts backups.

With that said, here are three winners and three losers from Carolina’s first taste of NFL action this summer.

3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) P.J. Walker

P.J. Walker – Carolina Panthers QB

Backup quarterback P.J. Walker was the starter for the Carolina Panthers in this one, playing the entire first half before Will Grier took the reigns in the second.

Still competing in a battle with Grier for the backup spot behind Sam Darnold, Walker made sure to slightly pull himself ahead in the competition with a solid showing against his former team.

Playing in just three regular-season games with one start last year when former signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater was injured for Carolina, the 26-year-old Walker looked like a much-improved quarterback on Sunday.

Before going 0-for-5 in the final drive of the first half, Walker was 10-for-16 with a touchdown to help give Carolina the lead before half-time.

Walker looked aware of the defense and had a handful of strong throws, including a pass to Terrace Marshall Jr. that went 60 yards and a 26-yard vertical completion to Shi Smith.

His lone touchdown was also a beauty to rookie tight-end Tommy Tremble.

There were still a few overthrown balls and Grier didn’t look that bad either, so this battle will be an interesting one to continue keeping an eye on. But make no mistake, the position is Walker’s to lose heading into the business end of the preparation period.

3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Joey Slye

Joey Slye – Carolina Panthers K

Joey Slye has had his share of struggles since taking over as the Carolina Panthers’ kicker in 2019 and Sunday’s showing has to have the organization considering bringing in another player at the position for some additional competition during the rest of training camp.

The third-year kicker actually looked like he had a good game on paper, connecting on 4-of-5 field-goal attempts. But one of them was a near-miss.

Slye was way off target on his one extra point attempt and wasn’t close on a 63-yard field goal.

This offseason, Slye worked on his mental game after rockiness last year in late-game situations. However, there seems to still be a lot to clean up.

He certainly has the leg and strength but with a few of his kicks going right, Slye didn’t help his chances of completely solidifying the kicker role.

It does seem somewhat surprising that the Panthers aren’t pushing Slye with another kicker on the roster right now. This might have been a confidence boost for the player after a 2020 season littered with inconsistencies, but that might change in the coming days even with the first round of roster cuts due by Tuesday.

3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) Marquis Haynes

Marquis Haynes – Carolina Panthers DE

Defensive end Marquis Haynes is now one of the more experienced players on the Carolina Panthers defense and despite not being a starter, he certainly showed on Sunday that the depth chart has a deep group of edge-rushers.

Haynes set the tempo for the Panthers defense, getting a strip-sack on Colts quarterback Jacob Eason that led to a Carolina field goal in the first half.

In total, Haynes had two quarterbacks hits, two solo tackles and the strip-sack.

After having a slight breakout season last year, playing in 15 games for Carolina, Haynes only solidified his spot as the top defensive end backing up Brian Burns this season.

If he continues this type of play, opponents will be fearing seeing him off the bench. And should the player replicate or enhance the production he displayed during the previous campaign, the Ole Miss product could be in line for an extension when his contract expires this spring.

There is a lot of football to be played between now and then, obviously. But Haynes is off to a good start this offseason and there could be even more to come from the player now the coaching staff knows he can be relied upon.

3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports) Trenton Scott

Trent Scott – Carolina Panthers OT

The left tackle spot looks like it will be an issue all season once again for the Carolina Panthers and even though he’s not currently first on the depth chart, Trenton Scott’s performance against the Indianapolis Colts didn’t give the team any more confidence.

Scott started the game on the blindside but didn’t last long after a few false starts. He was replaced by Greg Little, who did outperform the veteran during his time on the field.

In all, the offensive line wasn’t very good. But Scott’s play at a position that Carolina needs maximum performance was a letdown.

Last year, Scott was praised for his development in 10 starts while Russell Okung was out but the signing of Cam Erving this year pushed him down the depth chart this offseason.

The left tackle battle has a long way to go. The Panthers are yet to find the right formula for their protection, which would be nothing short of a disaster for Sam Darnold if the right decisions aren’t made.

Scott’s chances of becoming a valuable piece of the puzzle took a major hit at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s going to take a monumental effort from the former Los Angeles Charger over the next fortnight to turn things around.

3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Frankie Luvu

Frankie Luvu – Carolina Panthers LB

If there was one big team takeaway from the first preseason game, it has to be how the backup defensive players performed.

Linebacker Frankie Luvu, who signed with the Carolina Panthers this offseason after spending three years with the New York Jets, was one of the biggest players to step up against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Luvu’s biggest play of the day was a huge third-down sack on quarterback Jacob Eason in the second quarter for a loss of 13 yards. Something that shifted the momentum further in Carolina’s favor.

The hit was Luvu’s only tackle of the day but he held his own on defense, looking like he was reading the offense well and not making any noticeable mistakes.

The 24-year-old is currently listed behind Shaq Thompson at the will-linebacker spot and should help provide some needed linebacker depth this season.

This was obviously sorely lacking during the previous campaign – the first without iconic figure Luke Kuechly – but providing Denzel Perryman returns from injury soon, this potential problem might be a thing of the past.

It was a solid performance overall for Luvu, who should also be able to assist on special teams if he makes the 53-man roster later this month.

3 winners and 3 losers from Carolina Panthers first preseason game

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Troy Pride Jr.

Troy Pride Jr. – Carolina Panthers CB

This one is a bit unfortunate since Troy Pride Jr. looked to have suffered a brutal knee injury in the fourth quarter. But it came at a time when he was in the middle of a tight competition battle as a backup cornerback.

Pride showed some struggles throughout the game, finishing with five solo tackles but he then suffered some bad luck midway through the fourth quarter.

First, Pride was called for a defensive penalty after giving up a long reception and went down with an injury. He left the field but returned on the same drive and preceded to give up another long reception before being carted off with a suspected knee problem.

Pride seemed to be in a lot of pain and had to be helped off the field before ultimately being taken away for further assessment. He gave the crowd a thumbs up which was encouraging, but the injury and poor performance couldn’t have come at a worst time for the second-year pro.

The Notre Dame speedster was facing a real fight to establish himself thanks to some notable reinforcements to the secondary this offseason.

Pride’s production was not up to the required standard and if he’s forced to miss an extended period of time through injury, it might see the Carolina Panthers cut their losses after just one season.

>