4 takeaways from the Panthers’ 20-3 preseason loss to Ravens – Panthers Wire

It was “Saturday Night Dead,” not “Saturday Night Live” for much of the Carolina Panthers in their second preseason game of the summer. But with some (or mostly) bad, did come some good.

So let’s take a look at four takeaways, each relatively positive in nature because we’re cheery here at Panthers Wire, from the 20-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Starting defense comes out fast

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The team’s starting defense wasn’t out there for a long time, but they certainly were out there for a good one.

Just about the entire projected lineup on defense played two drives together against quarterback Tyler Huntley’s version of the Ravens offense. And they looked fast. Like, fast fast.

Baltimore did have their way on the first few plays of the opening drive, rushing for a combined 23 yards on three straight snaps. That groove would quickly come to an end, however, with an interception by defensive end Haason Reddick.

Reddick cleaned up on the impressive work from two of his mates, linebacker Shaq Thompson and defensive tackle Derrick Brown. Thompson came flying off the left edge to pressure Huntley, causing his pass to be tipped by Brown and picked off by Reddick.

The second possession from Baltimore hit another roadblock, halted by a crushing stop courtesy of defensive end Brian Burns. Burns sniffed out a read option and stuffed Huntley for a two-yard loss for a near-safety to force a punt.

Defensive coordinator Phil Snow and the coaching staff wanted a blazing defense and it looks like, at least so far, they’ll be working with exactly that.

Frankie Luvu is about to make this team

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The only defensive starter on Saturday that probably won’t be in the lineup come Week 1 was Luvu. He will, though, be on this roster on Sept. 12 versus the New York Jets.

Luvu absolutely shined in the first half, starting with a few beats on Huntley in the backfield. He was in on the aforementioned Burns stop, which led him to the tackle, and nailed Huntley on a 2nd & 10 to force an incompletion.

He’d top that off with a forced fumble of receiver Josh Oliver that wound up with safety Sean Chandler. Luvu hit ’em with the “Peanut Punch” to abruptly end an 11-play drive that got down to the Panthers’ 12-yard line. The ball would find Luvu’s hand again early in the second half, when he batted down a pass after zooming into the pocket on a third-down stop.

Denzel Perryman, as long as he’s healthy, will be taking starting duties over from Luvu, perhaps as soon as next week. But the fourth-year backer has been incredibly impressive throughout the summer and will have himself a jersey in a few weeks.

Will Grier gains some ground on P.J. Walker

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The Panthers offense was kinda pathetic in this one, when led by either quarterback. And even though Grier didn’t lead the unit much of anywhere, he was undoubtedly better than his competition for the No. 2 spot.

Grier completed 11 of his 14 attempts for 144 yards. That was good enough for a decent enough clip of 10.3 yards per attempt, with a pair of fine completions to rookies Terrace Marshall Jr. and Shi Smith standing out amongst those throws.

Walker, the current favorite, simply didn’t have even an ounce of the magic he did last week. The ball just kept getting away from him, going one-for-eight with eight yards.

But, again, the moral of the story is that this Carolina offense was a complete dud, converting on two of 11 third-down tries with just eight first downs 189 total yards. The lack of depth on that side of the ball is a tad concerning.

Chuba Hubbard has been a busy man

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We’re not quite sure exactly where Hubbard will fit in during the regular season. And the Panthers may not either.

Carolina had their rookie running back run all over the field, serving through the entire gamut. He started by eating up each of the first seven carries out of the backfield, totaling 24 rushing yards (with two additional touches) by game’s end.

He was pretty busy through the air as well, reeling in two catches for 29 yards and supplying a big-time block on a 17-yard completion from Grier to Smith. He also (prior to the block) showed up with another nice, athletic play on special teams, downing a 38-yard punt from Joseph Charlton at the Baltimore 3-yard line.

Like last week in Indianapolis, Hubbard was a busy man. It’s clear that Carolina values his versatility and we’ll see how and where that asset fits in as the preseason comes to a close.

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