Preseason games, especially the first one on the schedule, tend to lend themselves to offensive skill players making more eye-catching plays. With just a series or two to make an impact, having the ball in your hands often stands out more than trying to stop the ball.
With that in mind, here are the Panthers.com game balls for Friday’s preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills.
WR Kelvin Benjamin: Any doubts about the prospects of the Panthers’ first-round draft choice making an immediate impact were immediately erased. His off-balance 29-yard touchdown reception to open the second quarter was the signature play of the night.
QB Derek Anderson: Down about 25 pounds from last season, the 31-year-old recently joked about his sneaky speed. Starting in place of Cam Newton, he did his best Newton impersonation with a pair of successful scrambles on third down. He played three series and completed 5-of-7 passes for 65 yards, highlighted by the touchdown toss to Benjamin.
LB Chase Blackburn: He certainly looked healed from a foot injury that nagged him much of last season. Blackburn stuffed running back Fred Jackson on fourth-and-1 at the Panthers’ 2 on the Bills’ first drive, then he dropped Jackson for a 3-yard loss on a screen pass the next time Buffalo had the ball to kill the momentum of another march into the red zone.
QB Joe Webb: He brought life to the game in the second half and put Carolina in position for a potential comeback victory. Webb flashed his dual-threat ability, passing for a game-high 180 yards and rushing for a team-leading 30 yards. His mobility was impressive and so was his touchdown toss to tight end Brandon Williams late in the fourth quarter.
RB Darrin Reaves: The undrafted rookie continues to turn heads. He ran hard between the tackles and found the end zone twice, although his first trip across the goal line was called back due to an illegal shift. On the next play, Reaves ran right and bounced off defenders en route to an impressive 6-yard score.