When you are getting beaten by your bitter rival, it is very difficult to find much to feel good about. The Carolina Panthers tested my patience as a fan on opening weekend in a 16-10 loss to the hated Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To be fair, the Bucs simply punched us in the mouth and refused to lose this football game. I take nothing away from their performance at all. That said, the Panthers had very little to be proud of after this game. Clearly they were not ready to come out and execute and the final score reflected that. Despite this frustration, the Panthers still did some good things. It was tough to see them at first, but they did. Here are four things in particular that the Panthers can feel better about:
The defensive line played very well
Although there were moments when the defensive line got pushed, that was largely due to the fact that the Panthers offense kept giving up the football and putting them in bad situations. The defense looked phenomenal at times and drove the Bucs backwards repeatedly. Despite a tough day and being constantly challenged, they showed up and made it clear that this is not the same defense from 2011. They will get much better as the season goes on and the offense comes around.
Thomas Davis is back
Although Thomas Davis could go back down at any time with a three time surgically repaired ACL, he is not letting that stop him from playing hard. Davis was all over the field on Sunday and even took out some frustrations on a special teams tackle. Davis looked like a spring chicken and it was a joy to watch. Hopefully he can hang around all season because he is simply a play maker.
There was a Kraken sighting
Greg Hardy actually looked pretty solid on Sunday as he swarmed to the football. Not only did he pressure the quarterback, he also got to the run and kept it contained to the inside. It is the most disciplined game I have seen him play since he joined the Panthers. If Hardy continues to do that, he will be our second starter all season long on the end.
The competition for the number two receiving position appears to still be on with LaFell and Murphy still battling it out. It was nice to see the guys hanging on to the football and making some plays despite the teams struggles. You can certainly see how the Panthers will find their way sooner rather than later offensively. They have too much talent to not recover quickly. LaFell and Murphy showed up for the opener and looked great.
*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.
More from this contributor:
- Why the First Five Games Are Vital to the Carolina Panthers in 2012: Fan's Opinion
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- Five Positives for the Carolina Panthers After Beating the New York Jets: 2012 NFL Preseason Fan's Take
- Carolina Panthers Rookie Josh Norman Backing Up His Trash Talking: Fan's Opinion
- Grading the Rookies for the Carolina Panthers After Preseason Week One: Fan's Opinion