Kelvin Benjamin whips the Panthers into shape, early lead


Well, so much for summertime narratives.

Kelvin Benjamin is fat. Tom Savage has had a great offseason.

Through a quarter of their first preseason game, both of those time-honored offseason tropes have been turned on their heads.

Benjamin gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead with a 23-yard touchdown reception from Derek Anderson, but his first catch gave a good indication of how the 6-foot-5 wide receiver can use his size in a good way.

Benjamin took a quick pass and stiff-armed his way out of trouble, gaining an early first down and 17 yards.

While he did, in fact, come into the offseason out of shape, he has worked his way back into shape, losing 10 percent of his mass in the process. And if he’s able to make plays downfield, it will answer one of the biggest questions about the Panthers offense this year, even before quarterback Cam Newton comes back.

The Texans aren’t quite so lucky, at least not yet. They went three-and-out on their first two series against the Panthers’ starting defense, and Savage was pressured as consistently as one can be in six snaps.

The Texans got on the board against the Panthers’ second defense, but Savage didn’t necessarily justify much of the early hype that he was performing much better than rookie Deshaun Watson. Of course, it’s the preseason, so perspective is important. With the Texans playing without their starting offensive tackles (Duane Brown‘s holding out for a new contract, Derek Newton‘s out after last year’s massive knee injury), it was going to be hard for anyone to look polished in the first game out against what should be a very good defense. They were better when he went no-huddle, but the first impression of him leading a team that has been good-except-for-quarterbacks-for-years wasn’t great.