|Carolina Panthers running out of time to correct offensive problems|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 25 August 2007 09:03|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -New offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson seemed to have all the answers after the Carolina Panthers' long touchdown drive in the first preseason game: They were going to spread the ball around, run with success and feed star receiver Steve Smith.|
Two weeks later, the Panthers look a lot like the 2006 unit that got old coordinator Dan Henning fired.
Carolina's first-string offense turned in its second straight dismal performance Friday night, managing only 57 yards rushing, one touchdown and two catches for Smith in a 24-7 loss to New England.
Jake Delhomme's 48-yard pass to Keary Colbert late in the first half is the only touchdown the starters have scored in nearly five quarters, during which they've been outscored 48-10.
``We just have to continue to compete,'' Colbert said. ``You learn a lot about your team when things don't go right.''
Unlike a week earlier in the Panthers' 27-10 loss to Philadelphia, the offensive line gave Delhomme protection. With a new-look line that had rookie Ryan Kalil at right guard, Delhomme completed 11 of 18 passes for 162 yards and wasn't sacked.
But Delhomme was hurt by key drops early by tight end Jeff King and receiver Drew Carter.
``Balls were right there and catchable,'' coach John Fox said. ``It's part of the preseason.''
Smith caught two passes for 20 yards and Delhomme overthrew him in the end zone in the third quarter. And while Colbert might have locked up the starting job opposite Smith with his speedy catch-and-run touchdown, the Panthers have shown little firepower.
The line opened up few holes for running backs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams. Foster failed to gain a yard on three carries, while Williams had nine carries for 29 yards, nine of them coming on one play.
Davidson's zone-blocking scheme that looked so good on multiple cutback runs by Foster and Williams against the New York Giants in the first exhibition game has produced little since.
Fox and the players were trying to downplay the offensive woes with the first round of cuts coming Tuesday before the final exhibition game against Pittsburgh two days later.
``Obviously people make mistakes and this is the preseason,'' said Carter, who had three catches for 52 yards. ``We need to go back and correct mistakes before the real season starts. That's what you want to do.''
There are several concerns on defense as well. Tom Brady carved up the secondary with multiple short passes in three scoring drives. Newly acquired safety Chris Harris seems to be still learning the system, and Carolina may still have to sign another safety before the season begins following Mike Minter's retirement.
The Panthers continued to struggle to defend the tight end, but there was extra pressure on the defensive backs because the much-publicized and highly paid defensive line barely made a noise. Brady wasn't touched until the third quarter, when he was barely grazed after a throw.
The bright spot of Friday night was the apparent successful return of linebacker Dan Morgan in his first live action since suffering at least the fifth concussion of his career in Week 1 last season
Morgan had three tackles, including one hard hit of Sammy Morris on a screen pass.
``I didn't hesitate at all and I'm not going to,'' Morgan said. ``That's the player I've always been. Like I've said, if I felt that way then I wouldn't be out here.''
Morgan wasn't sure if he'll play in Thursday's exhibition final against the Steelers. Normally the starters play only a series or two in the final warmup.
It means time is running out to correct a number of problems.
``You're never satisfied,'' Fox said. ``We've got a lot of work to do just like everybody else.''
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