CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Dolphins starting defense, knocked around in its preseason opener by Tampa Bay last week, got more of the same in the teams 23-17 exhibition loss to Carolina on Friday night at Bank of America Stadium.
Our first-team defense hasnt really gotten off the field in the preseason, Miami coach Joe Philbin said.
Most of the Panthers offensive starters played just the first three possessions. They produced 17 points during that stretch a field goal and two touchdowns. Their 22 plays totaled 199 yards, a 9.0-yard average.
This Miami defense is already ravaged by injuries, with three starters right end Cameron Wake (back), linebacker Karlos Dansby (knee) and linebacker Kevin Burnett (back) unable to play Friday. Tackle Tony McDaniel, a key reserve in the defensive lines rotation, also was held out.
The patched-up unit was picked apart by second-year Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, and Carolina continued its practice of targeting its tight ends seemingly whenever Miami left them open.
But the defenders most glaring problem was simply getting close to Newton. The quarterback is known for his ability to scramble, but he didnt need to. He carried the ball once, a designed play near the goal line that produced no gain, and never had to dart away from pressure.
Given so much time, Newton finished his evening completing eight of his 11 passes for 119 yards. He had a quarterback rating of 138.1.
Penalties also presented problems. Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith, who often finds himself in the middle of on-field disagreements, got into one with Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis on the Panthers second possession, on second-and-8 at the Miami 39. Davis was hit with a 15-yard personal-foul penalty, which, combined with a 5-yard rushing gain, pushed the ball to the 19.
On the next play, tight end Ben Hartsock split safeties Chris Clemons and Reshad Jones with a diving catch over the middle at the Miami 2. Two plays later, a touchdown followed.
Newtons final possession produced another score, and the key play was a long sideline pass to Steve Smith, who saw the ball intercepted by Miamis Sean Smith. The latter Smith, though, was called for pass interference, giving up 39 yards and putting the ball on Miamis 10 and leading to a 9-yard Newton TD pass, making it 17-0 with 1 minute 3 seconds left in the first quarter.
By halftime, Carolina had totaled 295 yards of total offense. The Dolphins leading tackler was Clemons with six.