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Allen and Grier Battle For Backup Spot Against Bears

Jason Huber
August 09, 2019 - 12:12 am

In the first preseason game of the year, the Carolina Panthers rested every one of their starters on both sides of the ball, making way for backup and borderline players to prove why they belong on the team.

One of the more intriguing battles of the night was between quarterbacks Kyle Allen and rookie Will Grier for the right to be Cam Newton's backup. 

The second-year Allen started the game and Grier played the second and third quarter, before fourth-stringer Taylor Heinicke capped off Carolina's 23-13 win over the Chicago Bears.

“I would say they were very efficient,” head coach Ron Rivera told reporters. “They both had their moments early on because they threw a couple balls high early, but as they got more comfortable you saw them get more proficient with their decision making.” 

Both quarterbacks had flashes and mishaps, but neither created any threat of a quarterback controversy. 

Allen worked with the backup receivers and offensive line and played solid.

Allen began the game with a 17-yard pass to running back Cameron Artis-Payne, and that would be his flashiest throw of the day.

“Kyle handled everything very well,” Rivera said. “There were a couple of times I would have liked to see him take the ball down and run with what they gave him, but they were both efficient.” 

After going 7-11 for 76 yards passing, and a two-yard rush for a first down, Allen's night ended early in the second quarter following three series and 21 plays for an 83.9 percent passer rating. 

Grier, a Charlotte native, made his NFL debut in the second quarter.

An interception and a few bad throws didn't do anything to justify his case to overtake Allen for the backup role.

But Grier bounced back in the third quarter, going 6-for-11, for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also added a 20-yard rush.

“Will just needs to speed up his process a little bit more,” Rivera said. 

A seven-yard touchdown to fellow rookie running back Elijah Holyfield gave Carolina a 13-10 lead in the third quarter.

That’s quite a contrast to when Holyfield fumbled a handoff on Grier's first play of the game.

Grier's worst play came late in the second quarter when he overthrew rookie receiver Terry Godwin, which resulted in an interception. 

“Things happen. You can’t always control and change it,” Grier told reporters. “When those things happen, you gotta move on and make things happen.” 

In total, Grier finished 9-18 for 77 yards, a touchdown, an interception and a 56.9 percent passer rating.

“It’s a learning experience. It’s just another step in the learning process,” Grier said. “You know the offense, but everything is just different in the game. As I went, I got comfortable and learned how everything works.” 

Heinicke finished the night 4-9 for 35 yards. 

It's still uncertain whether Newton will see any game action in the preseason, but that may not be the worst thing with Allen and Grier still needing to prove a lot more for the team's backup role. 

“We’ll get some quality practice in against Buffalo,” Rivera said. “The quarterbacks have to bring the ball down a little more. Just better ball placement as far as that’s concerned.”

STANDOUTS:

Rookie defensive end Brian Burns

He showed flashes of the potential that Carolina saw when choosing him in this year's first round of the NFL Draft. Burns started at outside linebacker and his only two tackles of the night were sacks on Bears backup quarterback Chase Daniel. 

“It was really a blessing. Coming into the game, I just wanted to bring my training to fruition by doing what I came to do and showcase my talents,” he said. 

Holyfield

Following a fumble in the second quarter, Holyfield made up for it with a seven-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter to give Carolina the lead. He also rushed for a 10-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. 

“He came back and handled the situation very well,” Rivera said. “He’s learning and I think he’ll continue to get better.”

Kicker Joey Slye

He was signed by the Panthers as an undrafted rookie a week ago for kicker depth and made his best case for sticking around in the NFL.

With starter Graham Gano resting, Slye made a 43, 55 and 23-yard field goal. 

“I thought he did a really nice job,” Rivera said. “I thought this (55) was well within his range. Every day in practice he got better and better.”

Defensive end Marquis Haynes

Haynes started at EDGE rusher and had four tackles and two sacks. 

Aside from a bad look on a Bears touchdown play earlier in the game, Haynes looked solid. 

NOTABLES: 

  • Rookie receiver Terry Godwin had a 57-yard punt return, setting up for Carolina's only touchdown of the game. 
  • Tight end Ian Thomas suffered a rib contusion and left the game in the first half.
  • Cornerback Lorenzo Doss suffered a rib contusion and left the game in the third quarter. 
  • Safety Rashaan Gaulden left the game with an apparent arm injury.
  • Running back Reggie Bonnafon had four receptions for 30 yards and four carries for 23 yards.
  • Linebacker Andre Smith totaled five solo tackles. 
  • Rivera made a few regular-season game decisions: In the first quarter he opted to go for it on fourth-and-1 and in the final seconds of the first half, Rivera attempted to ice the Bears kicker. 

          “I did that to help the Bears. They’re in a kicking contest. You just never know. There is an alternative reason to do it in the preseason as well,” Rivera said.

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