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-Article and photos by Patrick Magoon
Sluggish. Sloppy. Uncoordinated. Rushed. All four of those terms could be used to describe the performance from Carolina Panthers’ backup quarterbacks in Friday’s home preseason matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
Despite star quarterback Cam Newton sitting out for the entirety of another preseason game, neither third-round pick Will Grier nor second-year quarterback Kyle Allen could gain a clear advantage of the other. Grier and Allen threw for a combined 107 yards, and both quarterbacks finished with a passer rating below 50.
As Carolina’s coaching staff continues to evaluate its talent pool behind Newton, Grier and Allen have got to make better decisions on the field.
Several pass attempts from Grier and Allen were forced and often significantly overthrown, which Ron Rivera noticed and commented on after the game.
After Allen exited the game in the third quarter, Grier had an opportunity to gain significant traction in the fight for the backup quarterback role. He had a promising start, connecting with running back Jordan Scarlett for a 14-yard touchdown during his first series, but then lost control of the game almost immediately after that scoring play.
Griers’ three drives in the third quarter all concluded with punts.
Bills’ Kevin Johnson capitalized on a poorly underthrown ball from Grier, which was grabbed in the air and taken 70 yards down the field for a touchdown. “He made a bad read on the throw and threw it outside when he should have thrown it inside and, unfortunately, it got intercepted,” said Rivera.
Following the interception, Carolina’s offensive unit was shaken up and couldn’t recover with what little time was left in the second half. They reached the end zone just once, in the fourth quarter, after Taylor Heinicke took control of the offense.
Heinicke pieced together a solid 11-play, 75-yard series that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Rashaad Ross.
The Panthers aren’t going to keep fourth quarterbacks, but Rivera will continue to carefully evaluate each quarterback’s performance when challenged by various game scenarios. While Grier’s methods of execution were underwhelming last night, he remains in the same boat as teammates Allen and Heinicke.
“We’ve still got two weeks left to go to make a decision on certain things and we’ll see what happens,” said Rivera.
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