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Schaub Returns as Texans Top Panthers 26-13 in Preseason Opener

Matt Schaub declared the rust gone after his first action in nine months.

Schaub led one scoring drive and threw an interception in his first game since breaking his right foot last season, and the Houston Texans beat the Carolina Panthers 26-13 on Saturday night in the preseason opener for both teams.

Schaub completed three passes for 52 yards on Houston’s opening drive, including a 22-yard strike on third down to Owen Daniels to set up a field goal.

Houston’s next two possessions ended in turnovers when Arian Foster fumbled and Schaub’s pass was intercepted by linebacker Jason Phillips on a bad throw over the middle.

“Those first couple of days lining up behind center for the first time since mid-November, going against a defense, there was a little bit of rust,” Schaub said. “That’s worn off now, so we’re just back in a groove.”

Playing without top receiver Andre Johnson, Schaub finished 3 of 6 for 52 yards for Houston (No. 6 in the AP Pro32). Johnson said he could have played, but the coaches decided to hold him out.

Cam Newton’s night also was short and not all that productive for Carolina.

Carolina’s first-team offense, which finished fifth in the NFL in scoring last year, looked out of sync from the start and struggled with blitz pickups.

The Panthers (No. 20) didn’t pick up a first down until their third possession when Newton showed off his incredible scrambling ability by racing up the middle for a 15-yard gain on third down. Unlike last year when Newton would challenge would-be tacklers, he elected to slide after picking up the first down — and looked a little awkward doing so.

That drive ended with Olindo Mare’s 33-yard field goal. Newton and the rest of the Carolina starters were taken out with 4:14 left in the first quarter.

Newton finished 2 of 6 for 17 yards and questioned his team’s effort after the game.

“It just wasn’t good enough,” Newton said. “Anytime we come out and play in front of our fans we have a point to prove. At certain points, myself included, it was lethargic and I thought we could have put more effort into it.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton wasn’t at his best, but then neither was the majority of the team.

“He threw the ball just off a touch,” Rivera said. “I think his reads on decisions were good. Now it’s just a matter of connecting with the receivers. And we’ll work on that. He’s still growing and learning. … I expected us to play better. We have worked hard in camp and had a lot of good things happen and for us to come out and do what we did — that’s disappointing.”

Jonathan Stewart signed a five-year contract extension with Carolina hours before the start of the game, didn’t carry the ball and caught one pass for 13 yards. DeAngelo Williams got the start and ran four times for 13 yards.

Stewart called his new contract a blessing.

“It feels real good and something that has been in the talks for the last month or so,” Stewart said. “So, it’s just been something good to get done and move on.”

Houston’s only touchdown of the first half came on 5-foot-5 Trindon Holliday’s 90-yard kickoff return in the first quarter.

Carolina’s No. 2 quarterback, Derek Anderson, was 9 of 12 for 99 yards passing with one interception, but looked sharp leading the two-minute offense near the end of the first half. Anderson moved the Panthers 83 yards on eight plays, although he got some help when the Texans were flagged for three penalties — two for pass interference.

Carolina rookie Tauren Poole scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to tie it at 13 just before halftime.


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One Response to “Schaub Returns as Texans Top Panthers 26-13 in Preseason Opener”

  1. Lou says:

    Ist team looked good after months off. D looked awesome once again.

    No major injuries so all is well in Texans land.

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