One week after solid effort, Panthers fall flat in Philadelphia Print
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Saturday, 18 August 2007 09:07
NFL Headline News

 CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Jake Delhomme called last season's game in Philadelphia the low point of his career. Things didn't get much better in his return visit.
Friday's dismal showing by the Carolina Panthers in their second preseason game brought back ugly memories of 2006 - and raised questions if their impressive performance a week earlier was a fluke.
In the 27-10 preseason loss to the Eagles, Delhomme made numerous mistakes, the Panthers couldn't run the ball, the offensive line was porous, the secondary struggled and there was little pass rush.
``It was very disappointing, and you don't want to say, 'Oh, it was just preseason,''' Delhomme said. ``We played awful.''
The Panthers were scheduled to return to training camp Saturday night with plenty of questions, a week after they were full of confidence following the first-team offense's 81-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession against the New York Giants.
On Friday, the Panthers had two three-and-outs and two turnovers on their first four possessions in falling behind 24-0.
``There are things you're trying to practice, people you're looking at,'' coach John Fox said. ``But overall, I don't think we got better. I think we got worse.''
Delhomme, given little time to throw behind a new offensive line combination, failed to complete seven of his first 10 passes, was sacked three times, lost a fumble and threw an interception that Lito Sheppard returned 40 yards for a touchdown.
It brought flashbacks to last season for Delhomme, who said he never felt worse after a game when he was intercepted by Sheppard in the end zone with 25 seconds left that sealed the Eagles' win. Delhomme missed the next three games with a right thumb injury and the Panthers' once promising season ended without a playoff berth.
While Delhomme's job could be in jeopardy if he continues to struggle, backup David Carr was also less than spectacular. He completed 7 of 13 passes for 111 yards in the second half and the Panthers didn't get into the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter.
``I don't think the effort was bad. It just looked like we were playing in quicksand,'' Fox said.
Fox must decide what to do with the offensive line. Rookie Ryan Kalil looked overwhelmed at times in his first start at center in place of Justin Hartwig, who moved to right guard. The Panthers had only 36 yards rushing in the first half.
The defense wasn't unscathed, either. The secondary, without retired safety Mike Minter, struggled to contain receivers. Donovan McNabb, in his first game since injuring his knee last November, completed 6 of 9 passes for 138 yards in one quarter.
Newly acquired safety Chris Harris gave up a 58-yard pass play and cornerbacks Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas allowed the Eagles to roll up 237 yards in the first half.
There was more stress on the secondary because the defensive line put little pressure on McNabb. Playing without the sick Julius Peppers, the Panthers' first-team defense had one sack in the first half.
``We will regroup and look at the film and we may be critical of ourselves, but we will then see what we need to do to change,'' defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said.
There were few positives, other than defensive end Mike Rucker seeing action just nine months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
But, in a sure sign it was a bad night, punter Jason Baker's 51.9-yard gross average was the team's best performance.
Last week, Fox canceled a practice one afternoon so the players could go to the movies. There had been rumblings he would end training camp early. But a poor night in Philadelphia could mean a tough week of workouts leading up to Friday's home preseason game against New England.
``We really still have a lot of work to do and I really think that we will get it together and make it happen out there,'' Rucker said. ``Everyone is a little low after the game but we are going to get back to work and I have no doubt in my mind that we are going to get it fixed.''
 

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