The Carolina Panthers' 'D' made life miserable for Dak Prescott's new-look Cowboys, shutting Dallas out until the fourth quarter of a 16-8 victory. But Carolina's impressive effort on 'D,' which helped cover for an unsurprisingly uneven showing on offense, came at a significant cost.
Tight end Greg Olsen, who missed most of 2017 with a broken left foot, injured the same foot — FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported afterward it's broken again — in the first half and watched the remainder of the game on the sideline with crutches and a walking boot.
Olsen showed up on Carolina's injury report Saturday with a back injury but started the game and caught two balls for 33 yards before his injury. His streak of 161 consecutive games ended last season, when he totaled a career-low 17 catches, 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Carolina also lost starting RT Darryl Williams in the fourth quarter to a right knee injury — the same one in which he dislocated his patella tendon and tore his MCL in training camp. The Panthers are already without starting LT Matt Kalil, who will miss at least the first eight games while on injured reserve with his own knee injury.
The good news for the Panthers, in addition to beginning 1-0 and getting new owner David Tepper his first victory, is that MLB Luke Kuechly might have avoided a serious injury of his own. Kuechly hurt his left leg in the fourth quarter and stayed down on the field surrounded by teammates before being helped to the sideline and reentering the game on the next defensive series.
Cam Newton had a tidy if unspectacular game as a thrower, finishing 17-of-26 for 161 yards in his first time out in new coordinator Norv Turner's offense. Newton made good decisions and was his usually effective self on the ground, where he led Carolina with 13-58 rushing, including punching in the Panthers' first touchdown.
Carolina's 'D' was outstanding, with Kawann Short (two sacks, four QB hits) consistently overpowering Cowboys rookie LG Connor Williams, who sorely missed the help of All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and Shaq Thompson (nine tackles, sack) in the absence of suspended Thomas Davis.
If you're looking for good news on the Cowboys side, don't look at the performance of Prescott, who finished 19-of-29 passing for 170 yards and no touchdowns. He was sacked six times and made some awful throws as he began his first season without Jason Witten and Dez Bryant.
There was ominous news even prior to kickoff for the Cowboys, too. Defensive end Randy Gregory, who was reinstated this offseason from a yearlong suspension, could be suspended again this week, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday. Gregory was held off the stat sheet in his first outing since Jan. 1 2016.
Ezekiel Elliott started slowly en route to a 15-69 rushing line, including Dallas' lone score. And the Cowboys' host of new pass catchers were held in check, with Deonte Thompson (3-27), Allen Hurns (1-20) and Michael Gallup (1-9) mostly nonfactors.