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The Carolina Panthers and their new quarterback vs. the Houston Texans and the quarterback the Panthers wanted.

OK, maybe not quite. Deshaun Watson won’t be suiting up for the Texans tonight (he’s inactive), but he is still a backup behind new starter Davis Mills and the now-injured Tyrod Taylor. And there’s no question the Panthers wanted him badly this offseason before allegations of sexual assault and lewd behavior surfaced.

Still, the Panthers have found themselves in a good situation at quarterback after trading with the New York Jets for Sam Darnold, who has thrived in Charlotte through two games. He’ll have a chance to do so again at 8:20 p.m. Thursday on national television.

If you’re having trouble finding the game on TV or trying to figure out how to stream it, we have a short guide on how to watch the Panthers-Texans game at the bottom of this page, and a more detailed guide if you’re looking for radio, too. Tonight’s game on NFL Network is not being simulcast on FOX or NBC like in years past and you’ll need a subscription if you’re not living in Houston or Charlotte to watch it.

The Observer has three journalists at the stadium covering this afternoon’s game, including beat reporter Jonathan M. Alexander, columnist Scott Fowler and a photographer. For live updates throughout the night, stay tuned here and refresh this page for the most recent news.

Christian McCaffrey out with injury

The Panthers handed the ball off to Chuba Hubbard on 4th and 1 from inside the 10 yard line and were stuffed by Houston’s defensive line on their third drive of Thursday night — but that wasn’t the most devastating news emerging from that second-quarter series.

Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey, per the Fox TV broadcast, has been ruled out for the game with a hamstring injury.

Carolina takes over for its fourth series of the night with just over five minutes remaining in the first half.


After an opening drive where they went three-and-out, the Panthers have found a groove.

Quarterback Sam Darnold ended the quarter with 20 yards and a touchdown rushing and 7 of 10 passing for 89 yards. (Five of his completions and 76 of those yards can be attributed to wideout DJ Moore.)

McCaffrey notched five carries for 20 yards and one catch.

The Carolina defense has been impenetrable, too, like in the first two weeks of the season — only allowing 31 total yards through two Texans drives.

Sam Darnold rush TD: Panthers 7, Texans 0

Sam Darnold let out a smile on the sideline as he watched a replay of his 6-yard touchdown run. And who could blame him?

The quarterback orchestrated an 11-play, 88-yard drive — one that saw a pair passes of 20-plus yards to DJ Moore — and punctuated it with a fake-handoff-turned-rushing touchdown to give the Panthers the game’s first lead late in the first quarter.

That’s Darnold’s second rushing touchdown of the year.

What about the roof at NRG Stadium?

It’s open tonight. We’ll let you know if that changes.

Panthers-Texans uniform update

The Panthers are wearing white tops for the third consecutive week and white pants. The Texans are wearing blue tops with white pants.

Who’s inactive for the Panthers-Texans game?

Panthers: WR Shi Smith, CB A.J. Bouye, LB Clay Johnston, DT Phil Hoskins, G Michael Jordan, G Deonte Brown, DE Yetur Gross-Matos.

Texans: QB Deshaun Watson, TE Brevin Jordan, DB Justin Reid, DB Terrance Mitchell, DL Jordan Jenkins, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, WR Danny Amendola.

Panthers-Texans injury report

A full scouting report can be found here.

Panthers: DE Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle) OUT.

Texans: DB Justin Reid (knee) QUESTIONABLE, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee) QUESTIONABLE, DB Terrance Mitchell (concussion) OUT, Danny Amendola (thigh) OUT.

How to watch Texans vs Panthers game

Thursday’s 8:20 p.m. kickoff between the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston is being broadcast on NFL Network. Nationally, that network is only included in select cable, satellite or streaming subscriptions, but if you’re watching in Charlotte, you can watch over the air by flipping to WSOC Channel 9.

The Panthers-Texans game can also be streamed online with a subscription to YouTube TV or Hulu+ Live TV. It’s also available via Sling with their Blue subscription package.


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