1. If there was any doubt left, Armanti Edwards is going to make this team – again – as a backup receiver. Coach Ron Rivera has said repeatedly the real test will be whether Edwards can make catches in traffic, and he had a couple of good ones Friday.
2. Both rookie defensive tackles looked good for Carolina, with No.1 draft choice Star Lotulelei sturdily holding the point of attack.
3. On the downside, the Panthers’ offense netted out zero points in Cam Newton’s three first-quarter possessions. It’s a fake game, yes, but that’s cause for a bit of real worry.
On Newton’s final pass of the night – returned 51 yards for a touchdown by Chicago – the quarterback locked in on tight end Greg Olsen on a third-and-2 and forced a throw he never should have made. "Got to get the cobwebs out," Newton said.
Newton is prone to looking first at Steve Smith (who wasn’t in the game at the time) and Olsen, which is natural. But he’s got to get his other receivers more involved more often. To be fair, his three-yard TD pass went to Brandon LaFell, who really needs to have a big year.
4. Tight end Brandon Williams is such a raw talent. He needs to stick around, at least on the practice squad. On a Hail Mary, he would be a serious threat.
5. The first-team Panthers’ defense looked better overall in limited work than did the Panther offense. Josh Norman had his first interception to set up the first Carolina TD then, while Luke Kuechly once made tackles on three straight plays and Charles Johnson had a nice sack from the left side. Norman later scored on a 60-yard pick-six that was the biggest play in the Panthers’ 24-17 win.
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