Johnson, in his first game with Carolina, caught an 18-yard pass
from Jake Delhomme on the first play from scrimmage, the beginning
of a game-opening touchdown drive on the way to a 14-13 win over
the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night.
Delhomme hit Johnson twice for 27 yards on the opening series,
then threw a 14-yard scoring pass to Drew Carter as Smith watched
from the sideline with a strained left hamstring.
"You want to get the ball in certain guys' hands to get them
off early, so they can stay in tuned to the flow of the game,"
Johnson said. "It's important to get off to a good start. Jake's
starting to learn a little more and I'm learning him more."
Delhomme, who completed five of six passes for 64 yards before giving
way to Chris Weinke, showed the Panthers could move the ball
That wasn't the case last season. Smith led the league with 103
catches for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns, but no other Panthers
receiver caught more than 25 passes.
Carter had three catches for 20 yards and Keary Colbert caught
two balls for 23 yards in place of Smith, who was injured on the
first day of training camp.
"Naturally, adding Keyshawn is going to attract attention,"
fullback Brad Hoover said. "He's going to help us out a lot. But I
think it's the confidence of the other guys and just how they've
matured that's sort of helped out."
Holcomb, who got the start, completed two of four passes for 16 yards
and one interception, a poorly thrown ball that Ken Lucas returned
23 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to give Carolina
a 14-0 lead.
"I read the coverage wrong. I thought I had something I didn't
have," Holcomb said. "I'm disappointed, I wanted to play better.
It just didn't seem like I could get in a rhythm."
Holcomb was sacked by Julius Peppers on the opening drive and
failed to lead the Bills to a first down in three series.
"Obviously Kelly had a rough night," Jauron said. "It was a
sloppy start for us. The beginning of the game wasn't anything like
we wanted to have happen."
Losman took over early in the second quarter and started with
three straight incompletions. But he settled down and got into a
rhythm in the second half against the Panthers' second and third
strings. Losman was 15-of-24 for 144 yards for the Bills.
"We started off a little rusty, especially bringing in a new
offense, new players, new coaches" Losman said. "I've always said
the more I play, the more I'm in there, the more comfortable I'll
get. As the game went on, I saw things better, but being in the
offense for the first time, it takes time, it takes trust."
Running back Lionel Gates, who didn't play a down for the Bills
last season, rushed for 31 yards on eight carries, including an
acrobatic touchdown early in the third quarter.
Gates was sandwiched by Nate Salley and Keith Adams and did a
complete 360 in the air, but came back down on his feet at the
2-yard line. He then broke Jermaine Hardy's tackle to get into
the end zone.
Bills first-round pick Donte Whitner, who began practicing with
the team Monday after an eight-day holdout, led the team in
tackles. Matt Bowen, who started ahead of Whitner at strong safety,
injured his right leg early in the second quarter. X-rays were
Panthers first-round pick DeAngelo Williams had eight carries
for 21 yards.
"I'm pleased with the way we came out on offense and defense
and even in the kicking game," Panthers coach John Fox said.
"After that we seemed to get a little sloppy and it leaves us with
a lot of things to work on."
Former Bills coach Marv Levy, back with the team as general
manager, watched the game from the press box dressed in a coat and
tie ... McGahee, looking to rebound from a subpar 2005 season, had
5 yards on three carries. ... Panthers linebacker Adam Seward,
battling to make the team, blocked Brian Moorman's punt in the
second quarter. ... Carolina reserve tackle Tony Brown had two
The former Cal standout linebacker made his mark on the record books at the school and is a step away from making a major mark in the NFL.
Team president Jamie Rootes said it's possible that the Texans' trip to Mexico City won't be just a one-time thing.
Mark Davis says sharing Levi's Stadium with the 49ers isn't an option for his Raiders, who have their own unique game-day experience.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips seems destined to shine in supporting roles, but with his team in the Super Bowl he's fine with that.
Tom Flores, son to mexican parents and former Raiders coach, talked with ESPN Deportes about the importance of having more latin coaches and players in the NFL.
Dr. Kaplan uses a model arm and a metal plate to explain how what Thomas Davis is going through to play Sunday.