So the Panthers are now 0-3 in the preseason after their 17-13 loss to Baltimore at Bank of America Stadium Saturday night. Here's my column about the game and here are 4 things I didn't like about the loss (and 2 that I did):
1) Third-down conversions. The Panthers were 0-for-7. Baltimore was 8-for-13. No matter who was playing -- and in this game, it was mostly the starters -- that's ridiculous. It continues a trend, too -- Carolina's offense is now 5-for-30 on third-down conversions (16.7 percent) in the preseason.
2) Chris Gamble. He's the Panthers' "shutdown corner" but he was shut down by Baltimore WR Derrick Mason (and QB Joe Flacco) Saturday night, who beat him time and again on underneath routes.
3) 31-for-39. That's how many passes Baltimore QBs completed against Carolina's soft-as-a-pillow pass defense. Carolina's one interception came on a ball that should have been catch No.32, but it deflected off the receiver's hand. The cornerbacks time and again were way off the ball when the catch was made, and the linebackers (minus Beason and Davis) couldn't chase down the safety valve RBs quickly enough.
4) Injured Panthers. The guys I'm most worried about not playing in the opener? Beason and Jonathan Stewart. Both seem very iffy. The Panthers at least did not seem to sustain any more major injuries in this one.
TWO THINGS I DID LIKE
1) Mike Goodson. Given a heavy workload due to DeAngelo Williams and Stewart sitting out, Goodson flashed his potential once again. He held onto the ball, too, which was big for him.
2) Steve Smith returns. That was good news for an offense in sore need of him. Smith only caught 2 passes for 37 yards, but he seemed fine. "My body was feeling good, so there was no sense in waiting until next week," Smith said.