At least for one half, the Panthers looked a lot like the New Orleans Saints. The first-team offense put up 20 points and the stat sheet looked a lot like it does when the Saints are in top form -- everyone gets involved. Both the running game and passing game were clicking. DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert were effective on early runs and made an impact as receivers. Quarterback Cam Newton spread the ball around to Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Greg Olsen. Newton completed 8 of 11 passes for 119 yards with one touchdown.
The offensive line had a very good night. Newton had strong protection, especially on long passes to Olsen and LaFell early in the game.
With Newton, you almost expect Carolina’s offense to be good. So the real bright spot of this game might have been the defense. The Dolphins didn’t pick up a first down until late in the first quarter and scored only seven points in the first half.
There was a scary moment in the second quarter. Stewart, who signed a five-year contract extension last week, seemed to hurt his knee. He stayed down briefly and walked out without much difficulty. But he left the field a moment later, surrounded by members of the medical staff. Team officials told the media Stewart suffered a calf injury that is not believed to be serious.
Defensive end Thomas Keiser appears to be well on his way to solidifying a roster spot. Keiser produced two sacks in the first half.
I’d like to see third-team quarterback Jimmy Clausen get to play behind the first -- or even the second -- offensive line. Coaches and team officials say Clausen had a very nice training camp, but he hasn’t had a chance to do much of anything behind the third-string offensive line.
The Panthers were penalized 17 times for 145 yards. I'm sure that will be a topic of conversation when they return to practice.