The Carolina Panthers edged the Chicago Bears 24-17 in the preseason opener at Bank of America Stadium Friday night.
Both offenses were extremely sloppy, combining for seven turnovers – four by Carolina and three by Chicago.
Cam Newton looked mediocre in just three series, completing 3-of-6 passes for 16 yards and a score. The third-year Panthers quarterback also had one interception, which was returned 51 yards for a touchdown by Bears linebacker Jonathan Bostic.
The Panthers defense, on the other hand, played in mid-season form. Second-year cornerback Josh Norman shined the brightest, recording two interceptions, the second of which he returned 60 yards for a touchdown.
The Carolina defense consistently won the battle at the line of scrimmage, registering an eye-popping seven sacks in Marc Trestman's debut as Bears head coach.
Sixth-round draft pick Kenjon Barner also made his NFL debut for the Panthers, delivering mixed results. The former Oregon standout flashed an array of moves out of the backfield, but also raised eyebrows with an inability to protect the football.
Barner rushed for 37 yards and a score and caught two passes for 17 yards, but stifled a pair of Carolina drives with lost fumbles.
Armanti Edwards and David Gettis were the brightest spot(s) on the offense.
Edwards – who is having an excellent offseason – caught two passes for 38 yards while Gettis – who is returning after missing the last two seasons due to injury – led the team with 56 yards on three receptions.
Edwards, Gettis, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon are fighting for the third receiver role behind established starters Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell.
The Panthers will resume the preseason Thursday on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Game Notes and Observations:
- Cam Newton's sideline behavior was upbeat and engaged – a very encouraging sign.
- Backup quarterback Derek Anderson completed 8-of-15 passes for 133 yards and one interception.
- DeAngelo Williams recorded five carries for just 10 yards.
- Bears rookie Marquess Wilson led all receivers with 82 yards on four catches.
- Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler finished 6-of-8 passing for 56 yards and one interception.
- Panthers backup defensive end Louis Nzegwu registered a game-high two sacks.
- Prior to the game, the Panthers held a moment of silence for Jon Richardson, the late son of team owner Jerry Richardson.
- Linebacker Jon Beason and running back Jonathan Stewart sat out Friday's game.
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