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Strickly Panthers: Upon further review


CHARLOTTE – The preseason is all about opportunities – opportunities for individuals looking for a job to make an impression, but also opportunities for units to unite and get the job done.

For the Panthers offense, Saturday's preseason loss to the New York Jets was about opportunities lost.

"We were given opportunity. We had chances," head coach John Fox said. "We didn't make plays."

It was much the same on special teams, though the defense did shine in a 9-3 loss.

Here's a look back at how some key areas identified by prior to the game panned out.

RIGHT UPFRONT (offensive line play): The Panthers did a better job in the penalty department, with the line being accessed just one penalty after being whistled for seven in the opener, but it was a tough night otherwise.

The blitz-happy Jets officially recorded four sacks, a modest number given the volume of pressure they exerted. On the Panthers' final push for a score, the Jets flushed Jimmy Clausen from the pocket on five consecutive snaps before he threw an interception.

"Playing those guys is only going to make you better down the road," quarterback Matt Moore said. "It was a good test and a good thing to learn from."

PASSING FANCY (wide receiver play): After the majority of the receptions in the preseason opener went to running backs and tight ends, the wide receivers were a bit more involved against the Jets.

Seven different wide receivers caught at least one pass, though no one stood out. Speaking of standing out, Steve Smith practiced fully for the first time Monday as he continues his recovery from a broken arm.

He wouldn't say if he thought he'd play in Saturday's game against the Tennessee Titans.

"I can't really make a prediction on anything on this first day," he said. "I'm gassed right now, so I'll come out and hopefully feel better tomorrow."

Smith's absence has given the other receivers more reps, but his presence could give them more room to operate.

"Obviously it would help; the guy is one of the better players in the league," Moore said. "But we've still got to make plays regardless of who's out there."

SECONDARY STRENGTH (pass defense): The Ravens had some success throwing the ball in the opener, but with the return of Chris Gamble, the Panthers pummeled the Jets.

Starting quarterback Mark Sanchez completed just 5 of 10 passes for 12 yards, and his backups did nothing to pick up the pace against the Panthers' backups.

Carolina's defensive line certainly contributed to the cause with five sacks.

KICKING THEMSELVES (special teams): Outside of the showing by the kickers themselves, the Panthers struggled with situations great and small.

Three turnovers in punt return situations and the yielding of a 67-yard punt return were glaring, but back-to-back false starts from the punt team and a kickoff return from the end zone to the 4-yard line were nearly as troubling.

"When you have young players that have never done it in the National Football League, that tends to be the case," Fox said. "We've got two preseason games to get that squared away."

Between miscues by Armanti Edwards and Kenny Moore on punt returns, Captain Munnerlyn handled three successfully and returned one 24 yards before suffering a calf injury.

"I wouldn't say the confidence is down as a group," Munnerlyn said. "We just know we've just got to work hard on catching the ball back there, and on punt team tackling the returner.

"We've just got to work hard on it."

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