Max Henson Staff Writer
CHARLOTTE, NC September 11, 2013 – Wide receiver Steve Smith made it clear the Panthers offense needs to score more than seven points in Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills.
But a more aggressive vertical passing game isn’t something he’s concerned with.
“Watching the offense in the film room, I thought (quarterback Cam Newton) made some good decisions,” Smith said. “I thought (offensive coordinator Mike) Shula called a great game plan. It was well-balanced.”
The Panthers ran the ball 26 times and threw it 23 times. There may not have been many big plays through the air (only one more than 20 yards against the Seahawks), but that was dictated more so by the nature of the game and the opposing defense than the play calls.
“I was running the same routes that I run – which are variations,” Smith said. “Short route, deep route and intermediate route. I ran all three routes. The ones that I caught were either short or intermediate.”
Post-game conversations with members of the Seattle defense gave Smith more confidence in the routes he and his fellow wide receivers ran.
“Talking to their defense after the game, they gave us compliments on our different route combinations,” Smith said. “We gave them trouble, and they were frustrated at times. We didn’t get the win, but when you get feedback immediately (from) your opponent saying that we had a lot of different route combinations and it was messing them up, I’m not really sure how much more you can take away from that.”
WR BOOST: Domenik Hixon didn’t run any of those routes since he was inactive for the opener.
Hixon, who had been dealing with a hamstring injury suffered during training camp, said it was “very disappointing” that he did not play, but head coach Ron Rivera said he expects Hixon to make his regular season debut at Buffalo.
Rivera also said Armanti Edwards will have his role expanded after the team took a cautious approach with him in Week 1. Edwards is working his way back to full strength from a hamstring as well.
The full complement of receivers should boost the aerial attack.
“(Ted) Ginn can keep a defense honest, sometimes too honest, because there is always somebody deep. Armanti has the ability to get underneath, and he’s showing us he has the ability to make catches in traffic. Domenik is a good-sized target and he understands sitting down in a zone. The three of them all have a specific role for us,” Rivera said.
“It’ll be good to have everybody on the field.”
CAM ON NEXT CHALLENGE: Cam Newton constantly preaches the need to value each possession. The season-opening loss to the Seahawks provided a good example why.
“For instance, we only had the ball three times in the second half,” Newton said. “I guarantee if you told each and every person that was on the field at that given time, ‘Hey, this is your last opportunity to score some points,’ with that type of mentality I think everybody would have picked up their tempo. The attitude would have changed.”
Newton hopes the offense brings that attitude to Buffalo, where they’ll face an imposing defensive line built to disrupt and confuse an offense.
“The challenge is they have an explosive defensive line. We have to control them up front first,” Newton said. “With (defensive end) Mario Williams, (defensive tackle) Marcel Dareus – those guys are very explosive off the football. They change up their fronts from even to odd and try to create distractions and different looks for the offense.”
SILATOLU RETURNS: Amini Silatolu (hamstring) was limited in practice on Wednesday, but Rivera said the starting left guard took all the reps the team had scheduled for him.
He split those reps with Travelle Wharton and feels good about his chances to play in Week 2.
“It’s going well. I went full speed today,” Silatolu said. “I’m pretty confident.”
Rivera said rookie Kenjon Barner (foot) has already been ruled out for Week 2, though he may be able to return for Week 3.
Click here to view the full Wednesday injury report.