NFL Preseason Preview - Buffalo (0-1) at Carolina (0-0)
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Buffalo Bills will continue their extended preseason in the Tar Heel State when they take on a Carolina Panthers team trying to build on an impressive 2013 resume.
The Bills fell in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio last Sunday when New York fourth-round rookie Andre Williams ran for 48 yards and a touchdown as the Giants edged Buffalo 17-13.
Bills second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel was just 2-of-7 for 19 yards, while highly touted rookie wide receiver Sammie Watkins was targeted three times, but did not have a reception.
Backup QB Jeff Tuel completed 12-of-17 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown to Robert Woods, who caught four passes for 49 yards and the score. Bryce Brown, who was acquired in a trade from Philadelphia in the offseason, carried the ball seven times for 40 yards in defeat.
"I just had a lot of fun," said Tuel. "Tried to stay within the system and just move the ball and just did what we've been doing all camp and it ended up working out."
The Panthers, meanwhile, finished 12-4 in 2013 but have faced plenty of obstacles since. QB Cam Newton underwent left ankle surgery in March and wasn't ready for serious offseason work while receiver Steve Smith, perhaps the best player in franchise history, is now in Baltimore.
Also, steady left tackle Jordan Gross and linemate Travelle Wharton both called it a career and pass-rushing star Greg Hardy is dealing with some significant legal issues and could be facing a league-imposed suspension.
Newton has been practicing consistently at camp but could be held out on Friday.
"I'm not going to say yes and all of a sudden he's not going to (play). And I'm not going to say no and all of a sudden he's going to," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
The biggest issue on the field for Carolina seems to be at receiver, a group which is headlined by C-level free agent pickups Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant, along with rookie first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin. Meanwhile converted right tackle Byron Bell is penciled in to replace Gross at the all-important left tackle spot.
On defense, the front seven remains one of the NFL's best, especially if Hardy is on the field but the team lost underrated safety Mike Mitchell and nickel playmaker Captain Munnerlyn in free agency.
Veteran safety Thomas Decoud, who made the Pro Bowl in Atlanta after the 2012 season, will be asked to help replace the departed Mitchell.
08/06 11:52:37 ET