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Friday, August 30, 2013

Re: A Quick 53 Before The Game

It was a good night for the home crowd against Pittsburgh, 25-10 in a
game suggesting that the defense is hitting its stride, even with mostly
backups.

It was an odd opening - the backup Panthers offense drove down the
field against the starting (with a few exceptions) Steelers D, and same
for the Steelers' backups against a number of Carolina starters
(including the starting line for the series).

After that, it was mostly a matter of the defense picking Landry Jones,
a rookie who played the entire game at QB, and a few big plays by Derek
Anderson at QB and the opportunistic defense.

Here are some highlights, from a personnel perspective:

*Ted Ginn at WR
It was against backups, and we've seen this from the likes of lesser
talented guys who did nothing on real gameday (Keary Colbert, Preseason
Superstar Emeritus as the best example). Ginn had proven himself plenty
about returns, but this was his best showing at WR, with a nice
touchdown on a Bang-8 from Anderson, followed by the 87 yard fly route.
He finished with 5 catches for 149 yards and the two scores, as well as
picking up a nifty first down on a Tauren Poole fumble.

*Domenik Hixon
The big man caught 3/44 in the first half, using good hands and body
control. It might be late for him to be the #3 guy to start the season,
especially with Ginn's play Thursday, but there is room for both to
contribute.

*Anderson
Showed off his arm, and a better accuracy than in the past. He's
always going to be a guy who looks for the deep ball, but in this
offense that has a value.

*The backup OL
Byron Bell shouldn't be playing LT (he lunges the way he doesn't/can't
at his natural RT), but he looked allright. Garry Williams looked like
a good pass blocker at RT. Chris Scott (LG) and Nate Chandler (LT) came
in afterward and looked fine as well (Chandler is still raw but he gets
good push, and uses good technique, for a guy who's been playing
defense). There's finally a little hope about the line depth.

That's tempered by a terrible yards/carry number, however.

*Armond Smith
He didn't fumble like Poole did, and he's clearly a superior special
teamer. If he hadn't kicked a Raven last week in the groin, you might
pencil him in for a roster spot. I believe he was the one who scored
the return safety, and almost had a rushing TD. He's not an exceptional
rusher, but if he'd scored both, that would've been pretty special.

*Greg Hardy
Hardy gets the Todd Sauerbrun award for thinking that a preseason game
matters too much, showing a tenacious rush to go with chasing down a WR
on an end around. The roughing penalty on the first play was dumb,
without anything to prove, hence the Sauerbrun bit.

*2014 starters at LB
AJ Klein and Chase Blackburn looked good out there. There were some
mistakes, like Blackburn giving up the TD on the post-up, but both
appear to be in line for the next move.

*Josh Norman
4 picks in preseason isn't too bad, and if he'd have picked a slower
receiver, he would've had another TD. Norman appears to still not have
a handle on starting, and who knows if he'll be the outside guy with
Captain Munnerlyn moving to the slot for nickel. But Norman's doing
all he can, and he's being a more physical tackler.

*Haruki Nakamura
The absence of Mike Mitchell suggests that he's still the starter, but
Nakamura played well at SS in his absence. Nakamura's only real sin on
the football field, whether it be the Roddy White play last year or
anything on the field at any other point, seems to be height. If he
were 6'2, and 15 lbs heavier, he'd be noticed (and would've batted that
ball from White, where he really had position). He doesn't really make
mistakes, he tackles hard, he plays the ball.

*Colin Jones
The third-year has been absent on defense his entire tenure here, but
he lucked into two picks, and it's never bad to make a play. Jones will
always be a special teamer, but your imagination starts to run wild a
little when you see a guy that size, with that speed, taking the ball
upfield when there are five linemen and a QB playing defense.




I stand behind my 53 - I posted before the game with the guys I think
will make it, and who might make the roster. I think the right players
made the necessary plays to stay.
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