Yes, Cary Williams got burned a few times, was stiff-armed fiercely in the face mask and was beaten by veteran receiver Steve Smith.
He made statements that referred to how weak the Philadelpia Eagles‘ defense was before the game, and it seemed to resonate with the team against the Carolina Panthers. They soundly beat the Panthers down, showing us something that we didn’t see against the New England Patriots. What was the difference?
If you listen to the players, the secret of it wasn’t rocket science. Brandon Boykin had a big game, including a 41-yard kickoff return. He told reporters that the difference between the first preseason game to this one was learning from mistakes.
Safety Patrick Chung also had a great game, stepping up on run support. He agreed with Boykin and said that he is excited to play with his new brothers, and to expect improvement every game. Like Williams, he displays some attitude that a safety needs — that chip on his shoulder that helps as the last line of defense. Chung seems to be stepping up to the mounting pressure.
Another safety showed his improvement as well. Earl Wolff, on a play in the fourth quarter that displayed his tenacity, busted through a block and took down the running back after sending him scurrying for a way out. Wolff has been impressing in training camp, and is now is showing some good instincts when the lights are the brightest.
Overall, the defense played superbly. They didn’t let Cam Newton play his game, where he scrambles in space and finds receivers for long passes. The linebackers that were non- existent last game made their impressions against a battered Panthers line. They gang tackled, swarmed to the ball, batted balls down and actually got to the quarterback. As a result, the Panthers didn’t stomp, step, or even breathe hard near the end zone.
Other young players are soaking in that competitive air that Kelly brought in with him. Look at players like Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Jake Knott, Bennie Logan and Clifton Geathers. Remembering how Newton picked the team apart last year, this game should make fans optimistic. Expect the defense to have growing pains this season, and be thankful for games like this one.