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By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - The preseason normally isn't a time for panic, but there have been signs that the New York Jets are growing increasingly concerned over their lack of production on offense.
The Jets will be striving for much improved results on that side of the ball in Sunday's encounter with the Carolina Panthers, a game in which both participants plan to play their starting units into the second half.
New York is the only team in the NFL that has failed to score a touchdown through the preseason's first two weeks, and it's mustered an anemic 160.5 total yards and 3.0 yards per play in losses to Cincinnati (17-6) and the New York Giants (26-3) -- both league lows as well.
The Jets were particularly poor in last week's clash with the rival Giants, netting a paltry 148 total yards and going 1-of-13 on third downs against the defending Super Bowl champions. A beleaguered offensive line also allowed quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow to be sacked a total of seven times on the night.
Sanchez did complete 9-of-11 attempts while running the offense the entire first half, but the under-fire third-year pro generated only 59 yards through the air and had an interception returned for a touchdown by Giants rookie cornerback Jayron Hosley.
Tebow was equally as uninspiring in his ballyhooed MetLife Stadium debut as a Jet. The popular former Heisman Trophy winner was an off-target 5-of-14 for 69 yards and took four sacks over the final two quarters.
Both quarterbacks were handcuffed by a depleted receiving corps that didn't have top target Santonio Holmes (ribs, back) or expected contributors Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) and Chaz Schilens (ankle) in uniform against the Giants. Holmes is slated to return for Sunday's tilt, though his snaps may be limited.
The Jets will also be making a notable change in the starting lineup, with much-maligned right tackle Wayne Hunter demoted to the second team in favor of Austin Howard, an undrafted third-year player who spent all of 2011 on Baltimore's practice squad.
The team attempted to replace Hunter, responsible for 2 1/2 of the Giants' seven sacks last week, just prior to the start of camp by acquiring former first-round pick Jeff Otah in a trade with the Panthers. The deal was voided after the injury-prone tackle failed his physical, however, and Carolina wound up releasing Otah afterward.
Carolina showed no such struggles on the offensive end in its Week 2 skirmish with Miami, with a razor-sharp Cam Newton leading the Panthers to 13 first- quarter points en route to a 23-17 decision over the visiting Dolphins.
The Panthers scored on all three of their early drives directed by Newton, with the 2011 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year racking up 119 yards on 8-of-11 passing and connecting on a touchdown strike to running back DeAngelo Williams.
Newton will be taking his shots against a Jets defense that won't have nose tackle Sione Pouha (back) or safety Eric Smith (sprained knee), though there's a good chance he'll be doing so minus the services of all-star receiver Steve Smith. The prolific veteran is doubtful to play on Sunday after coming down with an infection in his left foot during the week.
The Panthers were already without projected No. 3 wideout David Gettis, who remains on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from an ACL tear and a subsequent hamstring problem.
On a more positive note, Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis could see action for the first time during this preseason on Sunday. The hard-luck defender has torn the ACL in his right knee three times in the last three seasons and was held out of the club's first two outings with a calf strain.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason, who was inactive for the Miami game with a hamstring injury, may be kept out another week, however.
These teams have squared off just once previously in preseason play, with the Jets recording a 9-3 victory in Charlotte in 2010.
08/24 11:14:50 ET
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