Bryce Young was 4-of-6 passing for 21 yards in his NFL preseason debut as the Carolina Panthers lost 27-0 to the New York Jets on Saturday.
The No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft played three series and the Panthers picked up just one first down with the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner under center against a Jets defense that rested its starters.
Young didn’t get much help from his offensive line, as he was hit on three of his seven dropbacks, including a blindside shot to the center of his back from 293-pound defensive tackle Solomon Thomas on his first pass attempt. Young’s lack of size was the biggest concern when he entered the league, but the 5-foot-10, 204-pound quarterback bounced back to his feet after the hit.
Aaron Rodgers’ debut with the Jets will have to wait for another day as coach Robert Saleh held out the four-time league MVP for the second straight preseason game. The 39-year-old Rodgers hasn’t played in a preseason game since 2018 with Green Bay.
Zach Wilson got the start and played the entire first half, leading the Jets (1-1) to scores on three of his six first-half possessions. He finished 14-of-20 for 123 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to backup tight end Kenny Yeboah. Wilson seemed to get more comfortable in the pocket as the game went on, completing mostly short passes underneath the coverage.
The Jets outgained the Panthers 189-32 in the first half and led 13-0 at the break.
Rookie Israel Abanikanda ran for 37 yards on six carries, including a 26-yard burst up the middle where the fifth-round draft pick from Pittsburgh dragged a defender for the final 5 yards before being taken down just short of the goal line.
After throwing an interception, Jets third-string quarterback Tim Boyle bounced back with TD passes to tight ends EJ Jenkins and Zack Kuntz. Boyle finished 9-for-10 for 84 yards.
Carolina traded up from the ninth spot in the draft to get Young, with owner David Tepper saying he’s banking on the former Alabama star to lead the franchise to multiple Super Bowl titles.
But if the Panthers (0-1) are to snap a five-year playoff drought and make some noise in the NFC South, new coach Frank Reich is going to need to dramatically improve the team’s offensive line. Carolina allowed four sacks in the first three quarters, three of those on Matt Corral, who fumbled once.
Panthers veteran backup offensive tackle Cameron Erving left with an injury to his right knee and ankle.
Jets: Host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night.
Panthers: Visit the New York Giants on Friday night.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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