Saturday nights loss to the Dolphins represents the perfect preseason paradox of good vs bad. Even though the Panthers lost they overall performed much better than the previous game. Yet anytime I start to feel too good I think of the injury to LB Jon Beason and it sours. The 1st team offense finally put some points on the board with a nice 1st quarter strive. Both RB DeAngelo Williams and QB Jake Delhomme looked sharp. They also eliminated the sloppy turnovers from the previous week. That unfortunately resurfaced on special teams. The defense played better against the run but still gave up big plays. The wildcat formation the Dolphins use periodically also presented some problems too. Hopefully the Panthers saw enough to better prepare for the formation in the regular season.
Looking at individual performances a number of players stood out and helped themselves.
LB James Anderson had a team high 7 tackles and seemed to be all over the field. After last season I thought we had seen the best of Anderson but now I find myself wondering how we can get this guy on the field.
QB Jake Delhomme (5 for 7 for 49 yds, 89.6 rating) had a couple errant passes but he also looked very sharp on others. More importantly he demonstrated the fire and leadership qualities that the rest of the offense thrives off.
RB DeAngelo Williams (5 yds/carry) again looked more than ready for the season. Fox could sit him down now until the Eagles game and I wouldn't have a problem.
Rookie CB Captain Munnerlyn showed us his best and hopefully his worst. His 58 yard punt return was one outstanding individual effort. He perfectly split the coverage and broke two tackles to break into the clear. He followed that up with a muffed punt that he literally stole back from a Dolphin who clearly had posession of the loose ball before Munnerlyn strong-armed it from him. Since the whisle never blew it wasn't reviewable.
LB Dan Conner looks very capable to fill in for the injured Jon Beason for a couple games. Beasons leadership will be missed but Conner looks ready.
RB Decori Birmingham had a few nice touches but I still doubt there's room on the roster for him.
Outside of the Munnerlyn punt return special teams were a mess. JJ Jansen had his first (and hopefully last) bad snap on a FG. Throw in three muffed punts (1 lost) and it was forgettable.