CHARLOTTE, N.C. Sporting Alert — There was no Cam Newton, but the Carolina Panthers made a winning start to their 2017 NFL preseason campaign on Wednesday night. GAME BOX SCORE
Experienced backup quarter Derek Anderson, who started in place of Newton, who was rested with a sore right shoulder, looked sharp on the night as the Panthers picked up a 27-17 win over the Houston Texans in front of a crowd of 73,778 at Bank of America Stadium.
Anderson completed 4-of-5 passes for 76 yards and threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin.
Meanwhile, Joe Webb went 7-of-14 for Carolina for 128 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Wide receiver Damiere Byrd was also impressive on the night after taking 4 of his 6 targets for 98 yards with two touchdowns for the Panthers and he was happy with his performance.
“It means a lot,” Byrd said. “It’s a dream of everybody’s to be able to play for an organization as great as this in the NFL.”
Exciting rookie Christian McCaffrey carried the ball seven times for 33 yards before being pulled by Carolina, which led 17-10 at half-time.
WATSON SHINES FOR TEXANS
Deshaun Watson, making his NFL preseason debut, went 15-of-25 passes for 179 yards and ran for a score for the Houston Texans in the loss.
Watson replaced Savage in the second quarter and played until 5:05 left in the fourth quarter.
“There’s a lot to build on, a lot to correct,” Houston head coach Bill O’Brien said about Watson. “He knows that. Overall poise and demeanor is pretty impressive.”
Meanwhile, J.J. Watt played just one series in his first game back since his season-ending back surgery last year and he was delighted to be playing again.
“I feel good,” he said Wednesday. “It was like a tease. I don’t have a very good comparison.
“It was like a tease. It was just like four or five plays, get yourself in there, get your feet wet, then they take you out.
“But I feel good. I’m glad I got some game action.”
Coach O’Brien was pleased to see Watt back on the field again.
“It was good to get him in the live-action and prepping for a live game,” O’Brien said.
“For all of those guys that played a little bit, I thought it was good for them.”
The NFL preseason continues on Thursday with a full schedule.