Carolina Panthers Monday morning optimist (Friday edition)

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Anderson, where have you been all my life?!

Preseason came to a close and the Carolina Panthers escaped with no major injuries -- that's the big takeaway from Thursday night. There were some nice big plays, but Jerry's cocktail party didn't teach us a lot about the Panthers given that only a few starters got to play.

At this point it's safe to say that Derek Anderson and Ted Ginn were trolling us. There's no way these two could have looked so bad early in preseason, then put on that show Thursday. At this point preseason excitement about third wide receivers has become par for the course in Carolina, but Ginn has the speed to excel where Legedu Naanee and Louis Murphy failed. There was never a real battle, but Anderson cemented himself as the backup -- and in a strange way was the best quarterback running Mike Shula's offense this preseason. It's a scheme that plays to his strengths in ways it doesn't with Cam Newton.

It was nice to see Domenik Hixon on the field, and with news David Gettis pulled his hamstring they will need to lean on him early in the season. Hixon's game was solid, but not really a revelation -- he looked as a veteran should against 4th stringers.

Lets take a look at the best and worst of Thursday with the regular season right around the corner.

Optimistic

Derek Anderson -- Extremely Optimistic

Way to take things seriously Derek. Thursday's game was almost flawless, and if the unspeakable happens the Panthers have a good situation with their backup.

Ted Ginn -- Extremely Optimistic

Now, if he can only get going with Cam we'll be in business. Outside the Panthers haven't had a lot of speed at receiver, which Ginn has in spades. It was only preseason, sure, but last night's 149 yard game was the biggest of his career. Maybe that shows he just need greener pastures, or last night was an anomaly -- only time will tell.

Josh Norman -- Extremely Optimistic

The development he's made in the last few months is astounding. Norman's positioning is better, his awareness of where a receiver is heading has improved, and he's playing the ball better in the air. Surely he's shown enough to start full time at this point, right?

Colin Jones -- Extremely Optimstic

Two interceptions... that was neat.

Mario Addison and Frank Alexander -- Extremely Optimstic

Both depth pass rushers had excellent games, and great preseasons as a whole. Every time these two make plays the Panthers should cool their jets on rushing a Greg Hardy extension.

Pessimistic

I'm not going to beat up on guys who will get cut today. Let's just allow sleeping dogs to lie on this one.

Overall outlook

It was nice to see Travelle Wharton in game action, and it says something that he was the best offensive lineman on the field given he's barely had time to recover from a knee injury, and didn't know the offense.

Carolina's defense will be stifling, and will allow them to compete in a lot of games. The question is whether Mike Shula has the creativity to not just install a gameplan, but adapt. Heck, Jeff Davidson drew up great game plans -- where he failed was showing a complete inability to switch things up when he was countered. There is no way to predict this until the Panthers face Seattle in week one.

Prior to preseason I predicted a 9-7 finish, and I'm sticking to it. This team has too much talent to fail too poorly -- but everything will hinge on the offensive line and coaching. It will be a long year if Cam isn't given the freedom to move, and the offensive line continues to struggle, but for now I'm giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Ron Rivera calls Jay Cutler 'gunslinger'. Never forget.

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