Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) fends off Houston Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson (30) and free safety Andre Hal (29) after making a reception in the first half in their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The Panthers led 17-10 at halftime. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (13) fends off Houston Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson (30) and free safety Andre Hal (29) after making a reception in the first half in their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The Panthers led 17-10 at halftime. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

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Panther Tracks

Social media buzzes about Steve Smith, Christian McCaffrey, more during Panthers-Texans NFL exhibition

lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

August 09, 2017 10:49 PM

Kelvin Benjamin caught a touchdown. The Panthers offense moved the ball, with more than 200 yards of offense in the first half alone. And Christian McCaffrey (who was trending on Twitter all night) showed why everybody who saw him in camp has been talking about him.

Here’s what social media had to say about Carolina’s first exhibition game against Houston Wednesday. The Panthers won 27-17.

The Stanford Star

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) looks around during warmups prior to playing the Houston Texans in their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The Panthers led 17-10 at halftime.
David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Let’s start with McCaffrey. He showed off the quick burst and good vision -- and was able to get down quickly to not take a lot of punishment.

Every time he did anything -- and we mean anything -- Twitter lost its social media mind.

"Christian McCaffrey rushes for 5 yards"



Panthers fans: pic.twitter.com/joSOe5Pz0E

— Carlton (@SlopingGiraffe) August 10, 2017

Here's that 12 yard Christian McCaffrey run again pic.twitter.com/FZI5jlUWu4

— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 9, 2017

Smitty’s back

Former Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith shakes hands with running back Fozzy Whittaker (43) during warmups prior to playing the Houston Texans in their preseason game at Bank of America Stadium on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The Panthers led 17-10 at halftime.
David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Former Panther Steve Smith drew some media attention (and hugs from Cam Newton) for his return to Bank of America stadium for Wednesday’s game. Smith was working for NFL Network. Before the game, Smith put out an interesting tweet pregame pictured with Panthers interim GM Marty Hurney.

Smith, of course, had major issue with former Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, who ushered him out of Carolina. When Gettleman was fired about a week before Panthers training camp, Smith trolled him hard with this tweet that went viral.

Its Okay! Dave I know how you feel..... #agent89 #stevesmithsr pic.twitter.com/czlwuG92Ck

— Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) July 17, 2017

You had to wonder was the Hurney tweet Wednesday night another (slight) shot?

Look who I found walking on the sidelines ! #agent89 #stevesmithsr @NFL @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/621ApTXb1c

— Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) August 9, 2017
Comment from discussion Cam and Smitty.

Oh, and here’s the hug scene with Cam.

Our @89SteveSmith & @AndrewSiciliano are in Carolina for #HOUvsCAR!



featuring hugs from CAAAAMMMMM @CameronNewton pic.twitter.com/q2BMPh6RWG

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 9, 2017
Read more!

On Cam and Deshaun

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) talks with head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion during training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC on Tuesday, August 8, 2017.
David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

As for Newton, he didn’t play, but he made sure to give another warm NFL welcome, this one to former Clemson national champion Deshaun Watson.

Respect between QBs @CameronNewton & @deshaunwatson pic.twitter.com/lJIhZ4i4IG

— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) August 9, 2017

Speaking of the former Clemson star, there’s been a lot of good reports from Texans’ camp about Watson’s play. And, sure enough, Watson had some good moments. At the end of the third quarter, for example, he led a long Texans’ touchdown drive and finished it with a 15-yard scramble.

All night, Watson’s name was plastered all over Twitter.

Like this:

Deshaun Watson already extending plays pic.twitter.com/0XgVH5em1s

— SCRATCHED STARTER (@TrillBuckner) August 10, 2017

And this:

"Who is: Deshaun Watson?"#JeopardySports #Texans pic.twitter.com/Jae6B2s4Ei

— Jeopardy! Sports (@JeopardySports) August 10, 2017

TOUCHDOWN #HOUvsCAR pic.twitter.com/REBWAmPXiR

— Couch Rider Report (@CouchRR) August 10, 2017

Former Clemson QB Deshaun Watson talks NFL preseason debut

Houston Texans rookie Deshaun Watson solid against the Carolina Panthers

mconnolly@thestate.com

The return of the Luke

Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly obliges a fan's request to takes a photo with fans following practice Saturday at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.
Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

While Newton didn’t play, Carolina’s other big star did. Linebacker Luke Kuechly got his first on-field action since that scary concussion he suffered against the Saints last year. Kuechly played two series and, sure enough, he laid a Luke Kuechly type hit on Texas running back Lamar Miller for a three-yard loss early.

The sound you heard? LUUUUUUUKKE!!!

The Webb-Byrd Connection

Carolina Panthers quarterback Joe Webb (14) drops back to pass during training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC on Tuesday, August 8, 2017.
David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Panthers backup QB Joe Webb had some nice moments, including tossing two TD passes to Damiere Byrd. A Saints fan chimed on Twitter to drop a sarcastic, if not humorous, shot at Newton. But Webb got his fair share of Twitter-love.

To wit:

Thank heavens the Panthers starting QB is Cam Newton & not Joe Webb. (Saints fan here!) #WhoDat

— Patrick Michael (@patmichael84) August 10, 2017

"Joe Webb deserves to be the starter for the Panthers over Cam Newton."--what I assume Skip Bayless will say tomorrow

— Dan Parzych (@DanParzych) August 10, 2017

And Byrd got some love, too, with Panthers fans thinking he may deserve a roster spot.

Byrd has officially claimed his spot for this season! #Panthers pic.twitter.com/OZzEz5etDC

— Megan Emerson (@megemerson21) August 10, 2017

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