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Sports

Panthers backups try to prove worthy
Preseason play will determine roster spots
 
Published Sunday, August 10, 2014 5:26 pm
by Ashley Mahoney, For The Charlotte Post

The Carolina Panthers saw how their backups perform under game conditions in Friday’s 20-18 loss to Buffalo in the preseason opener.  


“The hard thing for us obviously will be the evaluation process,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said.


It was only the first preseason game, but for players like fourth-string quarterback Matt Blanchard, it may signal the coming end of his time with the Panthers. Blanchard, 25, completed 1-of-7 passes for 13 yards with an interception against the Bills. He was sacked twice and lost a fumble.


“Training camp’s been going well so far,” he said. “Unfortunately, personally I didn’t show it tonight for myself.”


Blanchard fell short of his own expectations in front of 69,569 fans.

“I’m looking forward to those opportunities,” he said. “I have to take advantage of them. Tonight, personally, wasn’t the case, but offensively we showed some good stuff.”


Blanchard’s performance has to improve for the Panthers coaching staff to keep him instead of Derek Anderson or Joe Webb on the roster.


“These are growing pains, we have to come together and figure each other out,” Blanchard said. “I’m just looking forward to these next couple games and coming together as a team.”


Over the next three weeks, players like Blanchard will face practices and three more games—the Chiefs at home on Aug. 17, followed by road trips to New England on Aug. 22 and Pittsburgh on Aug. 28.


“Playing these types of games… at a high level is really important for us in terms of our evaluations of the guys,” Rivera said.  


Ahead of their game against the Chiefs, the Panthers now have a better idea of players’ strengths and weaknesses.


“There’s a lot of stuff we can improve on,” said veteran linebacker A.J. Klein.


Cornerback Josh Norman, who marked his return from a torn Achilles with an interception, said he is “looking for more consistency, and a stronger defensive unit, everything closing in, and being better every day.”


Said Blanchard: “We have to fix the little mistakes that we make. We all have to do a better job, and that starts at the quarterback position. I have to do a better job.”

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