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Rookie Slye a surprise for Panthers in preseason opener

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Carolina Panthers running back Elijah Holyfield heads to the end zone and scores as Chicago Bears linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe defends during the second half of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Mark Black)

By Gene Chamberlain

Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — With Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro battling for the Chicago Bears kicking job, the best kicking effort in Thursday’s preseason opener came instead from Carolina Panthers rookie Joey Slye.

Slye made field goals of 42, 55 and 29 yards and the Panthers had a 7-yard touchdown catch and 11-yard TD run from rookie Elijah Holyfield in a 23-13 victory over the Bears.

The Panthers already have a standout kicker in Graham Gano, and it’s possible Slye put himself on the radar of the Bears as well as other teams seeking a kicker by hitting a second-quarter kick of 55 yards for a 6-0 lead.

“He handled it really well,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We had an opportunity for him to kick a 55-yarder. During practice, he hit a 60-something yarder. So I thought this was well within his range and it was kind of fun to watch him kick it.”

The former Virginia Tech player made a 29-yarder in the third quarter to expand Carolina’s lead to 16-10. Slye’s 42-yarder came on Carolina’s second possession to open the scoring.

While the Bears look for a kicker, the Panthers are trying to determine who will back up quarterback Cam Newton.

Both Carolina quarterbacks Kyle Allen and Will Grier enjoyed solid efforts, with Newton sitting out to rest his shoulder after offseason surgery.

Allen started and completed 7 of 11 for 76 yards, while Grier completed 9 of 16 for 77 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Grier’s 7-yard TD pass to Holyfield put the Panthers ahead 13-10 in the third quarter, and was set up by a 57-yard punt return from Terry Godwin. Holyfield added his 11-yard run, cutting to the left sideline in the final two minutes.

“I would say they were very efficient,” Rivera said. “Both had their moments early on where they kind of struggled a little bit, just trying to settle themselves down.

“You can tell because there were a couple of balls high early. Then as they got more and more comfortable you saw them become more proficient with their decision-making.”

Bears rookie running back David Montgomery made his debut and broke off left tackle for a 7-yard TD in the second quarter, and Fry’s point-after kick put the Bears up 7-6. Montgomery finished with 16 yards on three rushes and caught three passes for 30 yards.

Fry later had the Soldier Field fans roaring with a 43-yard field goal to close the first half, the same distance and at the same post Cody Parkey struck on his double-doink to end the Bears’ 16-15 playoff loss last season to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rivera called a timeout to freeze Fry just before the kick. The Eagles had done the same to Parkey.

“You know what is funny, I did that to help the Bears because they are in a kicking contest,” Rivera said.

Pineiro wasn’t as fortunate, missing wide left on a 48-yard attempt in the first half. Pineiro did make a 23-yard chip shot to get the Bears within 16-13 in the fourth quarter.

“This was the big stage tonight for them,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said of his kickers. “This was as big as we can get it before the season starts.”

Chicago quarterback Chase Daniel completed 11 of 13 for 120 yards and a TD while Tyler Bray was 8 for 17 for 85 yards for the Bears. Rookie tight end Ian Bunting led the Bears with 77 yards on three receptions.

REAL DEAL

Holyfield, the son of former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, picked himself up and kept on going in the fashion of his famous father.

Elijah Holyfield lost a fumble in the second quarter of his first NFL game. The former Georgia back was hit by Josh Woods, coughed it up as he went to the ground and James Vaughters recovered to set the Bears up for their drive to the go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter.

Holyfield came back in the second half and caught a 7-yard TD pass in the third quarter to put the Panthers ahead for good, 13-10. Holyfield had an 11-yard TD run with the Panthers trying to drain the clock late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 26 yards on nine rushes and caught two passes for 13 yards.

“Other than the fumble, I was happy with my performance,” Holyfield said.

Holyfield found things moving a bit quicker than at Georgia.

“It is fast, very fast,” he said. “You’ve only got 1 second to make a decision, so it was cool.”

SURPRISE START

Nagy downplayed the chances of starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky playing in the preseason opener earlier in the week, but Trubisky did start. He played one series, didn’t throw a pass, and the Bears were off the field in three plays.

“Even though it was just a couple handoffs, I feel just that part is good for him,” Nagy said.

RUSH MEN

The Panthers’ defense kept the Bears in check much of the game, with Marquis Haynes and Brian Burns each getting two sacks.

“I thought Burns was explosive,” Rivera said. “He did exactly what we thought he was. I thought Marquis (Haynes) did some good things too. These guys are explosive football players and these are the kind of guys you have to have in your rotation.”

INJURIES

Panthers: Tight end Ian Thomas suffered a rib injury and left the game in the second quarter. He did not return. … Cornerback Lorenzo Doss left in the third quarter with a rib injury and did not return. … Linebacker Luke Kuechly did not play after an injury scare earlier in the week. Kuechly absorbed a blow in practice but did not go into the league’s concussion protocol.

Bears: The Bears did not have an injury in the game, but cornerback Kevin Toliver II was a scratch at game time due to illness.

NEXT UP:

Panthers: home vs. Buffalo on Aug. 16.

Bears: at Giants on Aug. 16.

•••

KYLER MURRAY MAKES DEBUT AS CARDS TOP CHARGERS

Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray went 6 for 7 for 44 yards in the 10 plays of the Cardinals’ first offensive series of the game.

Then he put on a headset, took off his pads and watched the Cardinals’ 17-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in the preseason opener for both teams Thursday night.

The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, starting his first NFL drive at the Cardinals 2 after a fumble recovery, picked up three first downs, with his longest completion a 14-yard short pass to running back David Johnson.

The Cardinals did, however. Trent Sherfield, who had 19 catches a season ago after making the team as an undrafted free agent, hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Brett Hundley 35 seconds before halftime to tie the score at 7.

Hundley was 10 of 14 for 104 yards.

Zane Gonzalez hit a 55-yard field goal and Wes Hills ran 7 yards for a touchdown in the second half, and the Cardinals held on in new head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s NFL debut. Easton Stick, the third quarterback for the Chargers, scored on a 31-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.

Patriots 31, Lions 3

DETROIT (AP) — Jakobi Meyers caught two touchdown passes in an impressive preseason debut, and New England drubbed Detroit.

Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford didn’t play, and plenty of other key players were also spectators. Myers stood out for New England. The undrafted rookie caught scoring passes from Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham in the second quarter. He finished with six catches for 69 yards.

Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman (thumb) has been sidelined for the Patriots, and Phillip Dorsett is the only other returning receiver. Meyers seems to be taking advantage of his opportunity.

Lions receiver Jermaine Kearse was carted off injured early in the first quarter, and that was the start of a dismal night for Detroit. The Lions didn’t cross midfield until the latter half of the fourth quarter, when they finally drove for a field goal. The Patriots sacked Detroit quarterbacks nine times.

The Lions finished the third quarter with only 41 net yards — and minus-11 passing.

Lions coach Matt Patricia has been moving around on a vehicle at practice while recovering from surgery on his left leg. He did coach this game from the sideline, perched behind a handful of coolers near midfield, a safe distance from the field.

Ravens 29, Jaguars 0

BALTIMORE (AP) — Lamar Jackson directed two scoring drives in three possessions and the Baltimore Ravens’ defense throttled Jacksonville  backup quarterback Gardner Minshew.

The Jaguars played without quarterback Nick Foles, the 2018r Super Bowl MVP who was signed as a free agent in March. Foles was one of 32 players who were either injured or rested by coach Doug Marrone in the preseason opener, which came after the teams held two joint practices earlier in the week.

Jackson played the first quarter and went 4 for 6 for 59 yards and a touchdown.

With Foles on the sideline, Minshew, drafted in the sixth round out of Washington State, proved to be fodder for a defense that last year was ranked No. 1. Minshew lost his helmet when struck on a first-quarter foray out of the pocket, and in the second quarter he got hit a whole lot harder after mishandling a snap. Minshew quickly picked up the ball, just an instant before Kenny Young swooped in untouched and applied a crushing tackle that separated the quarterback from his helmet — again.

Minshew was mercifully lifted after going 7 for 14 for 46 yards.

Bills 24, Colts 16

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — With LeSean McCoy resting, and Frank Gore limited to two series, rookie running back Devin Singletary got the Bills off to a running start .

On Buffalo’s fourth drive, Singletary showed off the shiftiness that led to the Bills drafting him in the third round. He accounted for 16 yards rushing and 21 receiving as part of a 46-yard drive that ended with Matt Barkley hitting Cam Phillips for an 8-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring 5½ minutes into the second quarter.

The Colts struggled on offense while sitting out numerous starters, including starting quarterback Andrew Luck, who is nursing a strained left calf. Backup Jacoby Brissett finished 2 of 5 for 21 yards over three series, with both completions to offseason free-agent addition Devin Funchess.

Browns 30, Redskins 10

CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield threw a touchdown pass to end his only series as the  Browns gave a brief preview of their offensive firepower.

Mayfield picked up where he left off following his “dangerous” rookie season, firing a 24-yard TD pass to Rashard Higgins as the Browns went no-huddle and drove 89 yards in just 2:13 to open the game.

They did it while Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns’ major offseason acquisition, was kept on the sideline along with Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry by first-year coach Freddie Kitchens.

Mayfield didn’t need his top targets, going 5 of 6 for 77 yards and a perfect 158.3 rating.

Case Keenum, in a three-way competition with Colt McCoy and rookie Dwayne Haskins, started and threw a 46-yard TD pass — thanks to a miscommunication by Cleveland’s defense — to receiver Robert Davis in the first quarter. He finished 4 of 9 for 60 yards.

Haskins completed a 27-yard pass on his first attempt. However, he badly underthrew a pass in the second quarter and was picked off by rookie linebacker Mack Wilson, who returned it 40 yards for a TD.

Titans 27, Eagles 10

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles rested Carson Wentz only to lose his backup.

Nate Sudfeld left the sideline on a cart after injuring his left arm on a late hit in the second quarter. Sudfeld fell backward after a personal foul by Isaiah Mack and immediately went to the sideline. He was wearing an air cast on the cart ride to the locker room. There was no immediate word on the extent of his injury.

Sudfeld threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Marken Michel and finished 10 of 18 for 177 yards. He’s replacing Nick Foles, the 2018 Super Bowl MVP.

Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill tossed a pair of touchdown passes in his first game with his new team in his role as Marcus Mariota’s backup, and third-string quarterback Logan Woodside also threw two TD passes.

Dolphins 34, Falcons 27

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Josh Rosen threw for 191 yards and directed three scoring drives of more than 60 yards. Rosen went 13 for 20 with no touchdowns and one interception and played half the game. He’s competing for the quarterback job with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who worked the first two Dolphins series and led them to a field goal.

Atlanta backup Matt Schaub threw for 172 yards and led the team to four scores in the first half. Schaub went 12 for 19 with no touchdowns or turnovers for the Falcons (0-2), who have lost 10 consecutive exhibition games since 2017.

Undrafted Preston Williams, who has been Miami’s best rookie in training camp, had four catches for 97 yards. That included a one-handed catch for a 36-yard gain.

Giants 31, Jets 22

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Daniel Jones threw a touchdown pass in his only series and opened speculation on how long he will have to wait to replace Eli Manning.

The preseason opener for both teams was suspended for 59 minutes late in the first quarter when lightning and heavy rain rolled into the MetLife Stadium area. By that time, Jones had Giants fans on their feet.

Taking over after Manning had a three-and-out series, the sixth pick overall in the draft hit all five of his passes, the final one a perfect 12-yard throw to Bennie Fowler III in the right corner of the end zone.

Sam Darnold and the Jets had looked just as good on their opening series for new coach Adam Gase, going 75 yards in seven plays against a defense that many think is the Giants’ weak link. Darnold hit passes of 32 and 28 yards before finding Jamison Crowder from 3 yards.

Seahawks 22, Broncos 14

SEATTLE (AP) — Paxton Lynch threw for one score and ran for another against his former team as part of an impressive second-half performance, leading Seattle over Denver.

Competing with Geno Smith for the backup job behind Russell Wilson, Lynch made up for some shaky moments during the first two weeks of training camp by leading Seattle on a trio of second-half scoring drives using both his arm and legs to move Seattle’s offense.

Lynch was 11 of 15 for 109 yards and added another 38 yard rushing. He hit 6-foot-5, undrafted free agent Jazz Ferguson on a 6-yard TD in the third quarter, and added a 9-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter by bulling through Denver defenders at the goal line.

Lynch was a former first-round pick of the Broncos in 2016, only to be released before the start of last season and spent the year out of football.

Joe Flacco made his Denver debut, although it was a brief appearance for the Broncos’ starting QB. Flacco played just one series and completed 3 of 4 passes for 19 yards before turning it over to backups Kevin Hogan and a lengthy look at rookie Drew Lock.

Panthers 23, Bears 13

CHICAGO (AP) — With Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro battling for the Chicago Bears kicking job, the best kicking effort came from Carolina Panthers rookie Joey Slye.

Slye made field goals of 42, 55 and 29 yards and the Panthers had a 7-yard touchdown catch and 11-yard TD run from rookie Elijah Holyfield.

The Panthers already have a standout kicker in Graham Gano, and it’s possible Slye put himself on the radar of the Bears as well as other teams seeking a kicker by hitting a second-quarter kick of 55 yards for a 6-0 lead. The former Virginia Tech player made a 29-yarder in the third quarter to expand Carolina’s lead to 16-10. Slye’s 42-yarder came on Carolina’s second possession to open the scoring.

The Panthers’ defense kept the Bears in check much of the game, with Marquis Haynes and Brian Burns each getting two sacks.

Packers 28, Texans 26

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — DeShone Kizer was 8 for 13 with 102 yards and a touchdown. Tim Boyle added two second-half touchdown passes for the Packers as Aaron Rodgers had the night off.

With Deshaun Watson not playing and A.J. McCarron sidelined with a thumb injury on his right throwing hand, Joe Webb, the only other quarterback on the Texans’ roster, played the entire game. The 10th-year veteran was 25 for 40 for 286 yards a touchdown and two interceptions.

Packers receiver Equanimeous St. Brown recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone, Kizer threw a TD pass to Darrius Shepherd to give the Packers a 14-7 lead and Boyle added TD passes to J’Mon Moore and Allen Lazard in the third quarter to give the Packers a 28-10 lead.

The Texans rallied with 16 points in the fourth quarter, but fell short.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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