Houston Texans vs. Carolina Panthers

HOU
17
CAR
27
FINAL
1234T
HOU 737017
CAR 7107327

Game Information
Location: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, North Carolina
Attendance: 72,100

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Deshaun Watson reminded everyone why Panthers coach Ron Rivera - and many others - felt he should have won the Heisman Trophy last season.

Watson shined in his NFL preseason debut, completing 15 of 25 passes for 179 yards and running for a score in the Houston Texans' 27-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday night.

Watson, who led Clemson to the ACC championship on this field last December en route to winning the national championship, received a rousing ovation from Tigers fans dressed in orange when he entered the game in the second quarter.

The cheers grew louder when Watson outran two defenders for a 15-yard touchdown - although Panthers fans tried to cover the celebration with boos.

"It was good just to get my feet wet," said Watson, who was pleased with his overall effort.

Houston's first-round draft pick looked comfortable in the pocket, stepping up to avoid pressure and getting rid of the football in a timely manner. He didn't let penalties on his team affect him and didn't turn the ball over in nearly three quarters of play.

"He's a smart player, an instinctive player," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said.

"For the first game out there I thought he did some good things. That's a big jump from college to the NFL and I thought he handled it pretty well."

Tom Savage went three-and-out on his first two possessions against Carolina's first-team defense. Savage had better luck with Carolina's starters out of the game, completing 8 of 8 passes for 67 yards on his final drive capped by a 16-yard TD run by Alfred Blue.

But it was a strong showing for Carolina's defensive starters.

"We put ourselves in good third down situations and we were able to execute and get off the field," Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said. "Overall, the first half, the ones definitely had a good showing."

Panthers veteran backup Derek Anderson looked sharp starting in place of Cam Newton, who's still resting a sore right shoulder.

Anderson completed 4 of 5 passes for 76 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin to finish with a perfect 158.3 QB rating.

The 6-foot-5 Benjamin, who reported to training camp in good shape after being overweight in the spring, made a leaping grab in the corner of the end zone to give Carolina the early 7-0 lead.

"I am feeling good again," Benjamin said. "I am ready to get Cam (Newton) back out there so we can rebuild that chemistry."

WATT, KUECHLY RETURN: Two former NFL Defensive Players of the Year returned to action after missing significant time last season with injuries.

J.J. Watt played one series for the Texans in his return from back surgery. Kuechly played six plays after returning from his second career concussion. Neither registered a tackle.

SITTING OUT: Along with Newton, veteran defensive ends Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson, center Ryan Kalil and rookie wide receiver Curtis Samuel did not suit up for Carolina.

ROOKIE WATCH

Texans: Rookie linebacker Dylan Cole appeared to return a fumble for a touchdown to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but the play was overturned.

Panthers: Christian McCaffrey had 33 yards on seven carries in his rookie debut and showed impressive quickness and the ability to make defenders miss.

POSITION BATTLES

Texans: RB Alfred Blue outperformed projected starter Lamar Miller. Blue ran for 33 yards on seven carries including a 16-yard touchdown, while Miller carried two times for no yards.

Panthers: Wide receiver Damiere Byrd, considered a fringe roster player, did nothing to hurt his chances by hauling touchdown passes of 50 and 8 yards from Joe Webb.

WHAT BROWN DOES FOR YOU: The Texans clearly missed left tackle Duane Brown, whose contract situation remains unresolved. Savage was under heavy pressure on the first two series. Chris Clark started at left tackle.

INJURY UPDATE:

Texans: Reported no injuries.

Panthers: Vernon Butler, last year's first-round draft pick, left the game with a left knee injury and did not return.

QUOTABLE:

Texans: "I'm so happy to be back with my guys," Watt said of his return. "It's so much fun in my D-line room and being back out there with my teammates. That's where I belong."

Panthers: "It means a lot," Byrd said after the first of his two TD catches. "It's a dream of everybody's to be able to play for an organization as great as this in the NFL."

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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1st Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Texans Panthers
07:12 Kelvin Benjamin 23 yd pass from Derek Anderson (Graham Gano kick) 0 7
00:10 Alfred Blue 16 yd run (Nick Novak kick) 7 7

2nd Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Texans Panthers
08:13 Damiere Byrd 50 yd pass from Joe Webb (Graham Gano kick) 7 14
05:55 Graham Gano 45 yd FG 7 17
01:42 Ka'imi Fairbairn 25 yd FG 10 17

3rd Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Texans Panthers
08:46 Damiere Byrd 8 yd pass from Joe Webb (Harrison Butker kick) 10 24
00:56 Deshaun Watson 15 yd run (Ka'imi Fairbairn kick) 17 24

4th Quarter Summary
Time Team Play Detail Texans Panthers
05:11 Harrison Butker 51 yd FG 17 27

Team Stats
  Houston Carolina
1st Downs 23 19
Total Yards 410 388
Passing 257 242
Passing Completions/Attempts 28-45 15-27
Yards/Pass 5.1 8.6
Rushing 153 146
Rushing Attempts 24 30
Yards/Rush 6.4 4.9
Turnovers 1 1
Fumbles Lost 1 0
Interceptions Thrown 0 1
Possession 33:30 26:30

Houston Passing
Player CP ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Deshaun Watson 15 25 179 7.2 0 0
Tom Savage 9 11 69 6.3 0 0
Brandon Weeden 4 9 38 4.2 0 0

Carolina Passing
Player CP ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Joe Webb 7 14 128 9.1 2 1
Derek Anderson 4 5 76 15.2 1 0
Garrett Gilbert 4 8 47 5.9 0 0

Houston Rushing
Player ATT YDS AVG TD LG
D'Onta Foreman 9 76 8.4 0 41
Alfred Blue 5 33 6.6 1 16
Deshaun Watson 3 24 8.0 1 15
Akeem Hunt 2 8 4.0 0 7
Dare Ogunbowale 1 8 8.0 0 8
Brandon Weeden 2 4 2.0 0 3
Lamar Miller 2 0 0.0 0 3

Carolina Rushing
Player ATT YDS AVG TD LG
Jalen Simmons 9 38 4.2 0 19
Christian McCaffrey 7 33 4.7 0 12
Cameron Artis-Payne 6 22 3.7 0 20
Joe Webb 3 21 7.0 0 11
Kaelin Clay 1 18 18.0 0 18
Fozzy Whittaker 2 10 5.0 0 11
Jonathan Stewart 2 4 2.0 0 5

Houston Receiving
Player REC YDS AVG TD LG
Dres Anderson 4 80 20.0 0 34
Akeem Hunt 3 38 12.7 0 16
Evan Baylis 3 24 8.0 0 16
Chris Thompson 1 21 21.0 0 21
Jaelen Strong 1 18 18.0 0 18
Riley McCarron 1 18 18.0 0 18
DeAndre Hopkins 2 15 7.5 0 11
Justin Hardee 1 12 12.0 0 12
Ryan Griffin 1 11 11.0 0 11
Braxton Miller 3 10 3.3 0 7
RaShaun Allen 2 9 4.5 0 6
Tyler Ervin 1 8 8.0 0 8
Alfred Blue 1 7 7.0 0 7
D'Onta Foreman 2 6 3.0 0 4
Devin Street 1 6 6.0 0 6
Dare Ogunbowale 1 3 3.0 0 3

Carolina Receiving
Player REC YDS AVG TD LG
Damiere Byrd 4 98 24.5 2 50
Kelvin Benjamin 2 40 20.0 1 23
Austin Duke 2 34 17.0 0 21
Greg Olsen 1 32 32.0 0 32
Keyarris Garrett 1 23 23.0 0 23
Kaelin Clay 1 11 11.0 0 11
Chris Manhertz 1 4 4.0 0 4
Devin Funchess 1 4 4.0 0 4
Mose Frazier 1 3 3.0 0 3
Jalen Simmons 1 2 2.0 0 2

Houston Defense
Player TACKLES ASST SACKS SACK YDS
Zach Cunningham 4 3 0 0
Robert Nelson Jr. 3 1 0 0
K.J. Dillon 2 0 0 0
Denzel Rice 2 0 0 0
Marcus Roberson 2 0 0 0
Brandon Dunn 1 1 1 9
Eli Ankou 1 1 0 0
Jadeveon Clowney 1 0 0 0
Dylan Cole 1 1 0 0
Kurtis Drummond 1 0 0 0
Matthew Godin 1 1 0 0
Kareem Jackson 1 0 0 0
Bryce Jones 1 1 0 0
Johnathan Joseph 1 0 0 0
Eric Lee 1 0 0 0
Brian Peters 1 2 0 0
Eddie Pleasant 1 0 0 0
Gimel President 1 1 0 0
Brennan Scarlett 1 2 0 0
Tony Washington 1 1 0 0
Carlos Watkins 1 2 0 0
Avery Williams 1 1 0 0
Alfred Blue 0 0 0 0
Brian Cushing 0 2 0 0
Kyle Fuller 0 0 0 0
Andre Hal 0 1 0 0
Akeem Hunt 0 0 0 0
Corey Moore 0 1 0 0
Dare Ogunbowale 0 0 0 0
Dayon Pratt 0 0 0 0
D.J. Reader 0 1 0 0
Malik Smith 0 1 0 0
Chris Thompson 0 0 0 0
Dee Virgin 0 0 0 0

Carolina Defense
Player TACKLES ASST SACKS SACK YDS
Jared Norris 4 4 0 0
Dezmen Southward 4 2 0 0
Jeremy Cash 3 1 0.5 2
Shaq Thompson 3 0 0 0
Efe Obada 2 0 1 11
Zeek Bigger 2 1 1 9
Colin Jones 2 2 0 0
David Mayo 2 3 0 0
Teddy Williams 2 0 0 0
Kawann Short 1 0 1 5
Damian Parms 1 1 1 0
L.J. McCray 1 3 0.5 2
Kurt Coleman 1 0 0 0
Bryan Cox 1 0 0 0
Eric Crume 1 1 0 0
Thomas Davis 1 0 0 0
Daeshon Hall 1 0 0 0
Wes Horton 1 0 0 0
Ben Jacobs 1 2 0 0
Cole Luke 1 4 0 0
Zach Moore 1 0 0 0
Captain Munnerlyn 1 0 0 0
Zack Sanchez 1 2 0 0
Larry Webster 1 1 0 0
James Bradberry 0 1 0 0
Luke Kuechly 0 1 0 0
Jeff Richards 0 1 0 0
Jalen Simmons 0 0 0 0
Darrel Young 0 0 0 0

Houston Interceptions
Player INT YDS TD
Corey Moore 1 0 0

Carolina Interceptions
Player INT YDS TD
No interceptions.

Houston Kick Returns
Player KR YDS AVG TD LNG
Akeem Hunt 2 36 18.0 0 18
Riley McCarron 1 15 15.0 0 15

Carolina Kick Returns
Player KR YDS AVG TD LNG
Jalen Simmons 1 24 24.0 0 24
Damiere Byrd 1 22 22.0 0 22

Houston Punt Returns
Player PR YDS AVG TD LNG
Riley McCarron 1 1 1.0 0 1

Carolina Punt Returns
Player PR YDS AVG TD LNG
Kaelin Clay 1 20 20.0 0 20
Damiere Byrd 2 19 9.5 0 13
Austin Duke 2 7 3.5 0 6

Houston Kicking
Player FGM FGA PCT LG
Ka'imi Fairbairn 1 2 50.0 25

Carolina Kicking
Player FGM FGA PCT LG
Harrison Butker 1 1 100.0 51
Graham Gano 1 2 50.0 45

Houston Punting
Player PUNTS YDS LG
Shane Lechler 6 282 53

Carolina Punting
Player PUNTS YDS LG
Michael Palardy 2 93 51
Andy Lee 2 72 40