Jeff Gravley

Five observations in Panthers win over Texans

Posted August 10

Preseason games are for evaluating players who might fill a roster spot. The Panthers 27-17 win over the Texans basically proved, "My two and threes are better than yours."

Here are five points of interest from my viewpoint in the press box.

Game ball to Byrd

If your head coach presents you with a game ball, you've had an eye opening game. That's the case of Panthers wide receiver Damiere Byrd. The second year player out of South Carolina caught two Joe Webb touchdowns and put his stamp on a roster spot. Quarterback Derek Anderson said the players have seen this from Byrd in camp, especially since he is healthier now.

McCaffrey makes his debut

Christian McCaffrey, or Christian McFootball as our Adam Gold of 99.9 The Fan dubbed him, got seven carries for 33 yards. That's an average of 4.7 yards per carry. McCaffrey's most impressive run was a 12-yard gain between the tackles in the opening quarter, he was bumped by a blocking teammate and defender which ended the carry. McCaffrey slapped the ball indicating he thought he should have stayed on his feet. If he had, it could have resulted in a touchdown.

There was also a time when McCaffrey put a less-than-stellar chip block on the rushing Dayon Pratt. The pass, intended for McCaffrey, was batted down by, you guessed it, Dayon Pratt. Another hand clap which indicates the rookie knew he didn't lay a good chip block.

KK Short

This was our first live action look at KK Short since he signed a 5-year contract extension worth $80 million bucks. On the Texans very first series, Short had a pressure on quarterback Tom Savage, then got a third down sack in the same series. In what was the last big signing of the Dave Gettleman era, getting Short locked up is one of the key elements moving forward. His 17 sacks the last two seasons are third among NFL defensive tackles.

Locals try to make an impression

Former NCSU, Duke and ECU players fight for Panthers roster spots

Before the game, I was on the field and saw Duke's Jeremy Cash. I couldn't believe how big he has gotten compared to when he played at Duke. He had to add some bulk to play the linebacker position. Cash was very active against the Texans with 4 tackles and a half-sack.

East Carolina linebacker Zeke Bigger got in the game late and recorded 3 tackles and an impressive sack.

NC State receiver Trevor Graham was a target on a deep pass in the end zone late in the 4th quarter and did see action on special teams as a gunner.

Deshaun Watson

There were a lot of Clemson fans at the game wearing Orange in support of national championship quarterback Deshaun Watson. He finished 15-of-25 for 179 yards and 24 yards rushing. Beyond the numbers ,Watson was able to escape potential loss of yardage plays and extend the play. He also didn't show "happy feet" and passed effectively. What I really liked was several times in the red zone, he threw the ball away as opposed to trying to force something, which can lead to an interception. I would really like to see Watson play against a first team defense and it may not be long before that happens.

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