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Carolina Panthers

Upon further review


The Panthers' preseason opener Thursday night at the Baltimore Ravens put plenty of things on film for the coaching staff to study.

Prior to kickoff, suggested five areas for fans to keep an eye on during the game.

Here's a look back.

HOLDING THE LINE (defensive line): The Panthers have a lot of questions to answer along a defensive front that lost three starters – Julius Peppers among them – but the early returns were quite encouraging.

The Panthers racked up six sacks, more than they did in any game in 2009. Veteran end Tyler Brayton impressed with two of them in the first quarter before he suffered an ankle sprain, and rookie end Greg Hardy showed off his motor with two sacks and two other tackles for loss.

End Eric Moore tied Hardy for the team lead with five tackles, and he forced a fumble that led to the team's only touchdown, a 31-yard return by C.J. Wilson. Moore also recovered a fumble.

One preseason game doesn't make a season, but the group certainly made a mark in its debut.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS (rookies' debut): In addition to Hardy, fellow rookie Eric Norwood collected a sack and forced a fumble.

Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen had a solid debut against the Ravens' impressive pass rush, completing 8 of 15 passes for 80 yards with one interception. Running backs and tight ends were the biggest beneficiaries: Rookie wideouts Armanti Edwards, David Gettis and Brandon LaFell were targeted 15 times between them but combined for just three receptions for 24 yards.

TRYING TO CATCH ON (receivers): With backs and tight ends accounting for 11 of the Panthers' 18 receptions, little appeared to be settled in the competition for playing time beside injured star Steve Smith at wide receiver.

While LaFell and Wallace Wright started at receiver, Dexter Jackson and Kenny Moore came off the sideline and each hauled in a pass for a 25-yard gain. Dwayne Jarrett, the most experienced of the receivers after Smith, had a 19-yard catch wiped out by a holding penalty.

ISN'T THAT SPECIAL (special teams): Immediately after the game, Fox labeled the Panthers' play on special teams as "good and bad."

Saturday, Fox focused on the negative, namely missed scoring opportunities on a missed extra point and a dropped snap on a field goal. He also noted a couple of long punt returns allowed, including a 57-yarder.

There were a couple of positives. Jason Baker averaged 50.7 yards per punt on seven attempts (though his net was just 34.1) with two downed inside the 5-yard line. Also, Edwards had an 18-yard punt return.

LINING 'EM UP (starting linebackers): In the debut of the new alignment of Jon Beason on the weak side, Dan Connor in the middle and James Anderson on the strong side, it was a quiet night.

Beason collected three tackles, while Connor recorded two and Anderson posted one. Off the bench, Mortty Ivy and Sean Ware combined for six tackles, including three tackles for loss. 

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