Derek Anderson excellent in unlikely start for Panthers

By Nick Shook | NFL.com

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In a perfect world, every team would start its season at home, with the support of starved fanbases hungry for the start of another promising campaign. But of course, we need road teams to complete a matchup. Visitors won six of 13 games Sunday, and as it is with every game away from home, rarely is it ever easy. These three players made it look a little less difficult.

Greatest on the road …

Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers

Anderson hadn’t sniffed the starting lineup since 2010, when he was the starter for the Arizona Cardinals. It was during that same season Anderson was caught laughing on the sidelines during a blowout loss to the 49ers on Monday Night Football, which spawned the memorable “that’s fine” postgame press conference. That pretty much explained how Anderson’s tenure with the Cardinals came to an end.

Since then, Anderson has disappeared to the sidelines with a headset and clipboard as a backup with Carolina, but when Panthers coach Ron Rivera made the tough decision to sit usual starter Cam Newtondue to a rib injury, Anderson was forced into duty — and he shined. Anderson completed 24 of 34 attempts for 230 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers earned a somewhat unlikely road victory at Tampa Bay in Week 1.

The 2007 Pro Bowl selection completed touchdown strikes of five yards to tight end Greg Olsen and 26 yards to rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to help Carolina build a 17-0 lead against the Buccaneers. Carolina’s defense allowed two late touchdowns, but a fumble recovery sealed the victory for the Panthers, who were able to overcome the loss of its star, with much of the credit due to Anderson. It’s likely the last start he’ll see for a while — provided Newton stays healthy — but come December, Panther fans everywhere may be thanking their lucky stars Anderson was on the roster.

Also considered:

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans

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