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Rapid Reactions: Andy Dalton gets first action

Andy Dalton

CHARLOTTE — Friday's preseason finale was given over to the backups fairly quickly, and backup quarterback Andy Dalton got his first work of the preseason in the 26-17 loss to the Lions.

Dalton came in for the second quarter and put together a solid drive until an interception in the end zone.

He was 6-of-11 for 60 yards and had a few rather adult throws, including a 21-yard connection with tight end Tommy Tremble. But his final pass was picked off by Lions cornerback Chase Lucas, who cut inside of intended receiver Javon Wims.

Dalton looked sharp until that point, moving them through a two-minute situation with some efficiency. Of course, you sort of expect that in a 12-year vet with 5,396 career pass attempts, who is secure in his place on the roster and the depth chart, and the world in general.

The 35-year-old Dalton didn't play the opener by choice and had a bit of a back issue, which kept him from playing in New York last week.

Matt Corral took over in the third quarter, continuing to get more work in his bid to convince them to keep a third quarterback.

Corral's passing line wasn't much to look at (4-of-12 for 52 yards), but he was also out there with the ends of the depth chart. With injuries thinning the top of the receiving corps, he throwing to guys who haven't gotten a lot of time, and there were several instances when it appeared there were some curious route-running decisions. Corral also showed his mobility, including a 27-yard run.

Of course, his future's not in his hands, because with as many injuries as the Panthers have at the moment (though not a lot of serious ones), some of the roster math will be complicated. Whether that allows them to keep three quarterbacks remains to be seen.

Chris Tabor

— All concerns other than injuries are relative in the preseason. But it's probably worth keeping an eye on the roster over the next week or so as it applies to the kicking game.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor used some unusual personnel groupings in the final game, a bunch of people who either may not be here next week or aren't necessarily expected to play a big part for him in the regular season.

With special teams regulars including Sam Franklin Jr., Amaré Barno, Chuba Hubbard, and Stantley Thomas-Oliver III among those not playing, there were a number of odd collections of people on the field.

The makeup of the special teams units is constantly shifting. Tabor's job description is changing tires on a moving car, since he doesn't know what he'll have available from one week to the next.

But there are fewer core special teams players on this roster than in previous seasons (other than guys such as Franklin and Kamu Grugier-Hill), and some of his regulars, such as Giovanni Ricci and Thomas-Oliver, are very much on the roster bubble.

So depending on the goings and comings next week, from the athletic training room and the waiver wire, Tabor's going to have his work cut out for him early this season. He's one of the top special teams coaches in the game, and he's going to need to be.

— On the other hand, kicker Eddy Piñeiro was back after missing the last two games with a groin strain. He hit a 41-yard field goal and an extra point in the first half, showing no apparent problems. They had spare kicker Matthew Wright handle kickoffs.

Piñeiro's injury was never a major one, but having him healthy and confident is a plus heading into the opener in Atlanta.

Kamu Grugier-Hill

— The Panthers showed off a couple of new looks Friday night.

First, players wore their new Keep Pounding for Maui shirts in the pregame to honor Grugier-Hill's commitment to raising money for relief agencies after the wildfires in Hawaii.

Grugier-Hill's story appeared earlier Friday on Panthers.com, and fans who want to donate can hit the links inside that story.

Once the game got going, the Panthers debuted their new Process Blue jerseys.

It's a slight variation on the old jersey color, more in line with the Panthers' color scheme than was originally available from Nike.

Quarterbacks in Process Blue

— Three of the six head coaches in Panthers franchise history were on the field Friday night.

John Fox, who coached here from 2002-2010 and took the Panthers to their first Super Bowl appearance, is now a senior defensive assistant for the Lions.

He caught up with original coach Dom Capers in the pregame, and with Frank Reich here, half of the team's head coaches were in one spot.

Fox is popular anywhere he goes (especially when the league's in Indianapolis for the combine), and the pregame was no exception. He caught up with a number of his former players, including assistant GM Dan Morgan (who started at middle linebacker for Fox) and Panthers Radio Network sideline reporter Kevin Donnalley (the right guard on the Super Bowl XXXVIII team). Fox also said hello to Panthers owner Dave Tepper, who actually bought Fox's old house here to establish a Charlotte residence.

John Fox, Scott Fitterer, Kevin Donnalley

— Rookie running back Camerun Peoples hadn't gotten much time in the preseason, and he didn't get to make a good first impression. He fumbled in the second quarter on his first preseason carry. Late in the game, he had what appeared to be a touchdown reception. After a lengthy replay review, he was ruled to have lost control of the ball as he landed, and it was ruled a fumble and out of bounds from the end zone, for a Lions touchback. It's one of the league's more confusing rules.

— The Panthers sent center Bradley Bozeman, cornerback Jaycee Horn , and long snapper JJ Jansen out as captains for the coin toss.

— Earlier Friday, the Panthers terminated the contract of wide receiver Damiere Byrd from injured reserve with an injury settlement. Byrd was placed on IR earlier this offseason after a hamstring injury, but the settlement allows him to return to the league later this year rather than being out for the entire season

Check out photos of the Panthers during their preseason finale against the Lions.

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