It’s been a long offseason waiting for some actual football action and tonight offers a taste of what is to come. Fans will get their first opportunity to see some of the 2014 Panthers in action tonight against Buffalo.
One Panther that will not be seen in action is Cam Newton. The Panthers will take the cautious route with Cam who continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery. This is the smart move and shouldn’t be a concern for fans. Cam has looked good throughout training camp and all signs are pointing to him being 100% for the start of the regular season.
Preseason is an opportunity for coaches to evaluate players who may or may not make the final roster. The coaches know what they have in Newton and there is no reason to put him at risk. The same goes with other players who may be held out for the slightest of injuries. Charles Johnson specifically won’t be taking the field due to a sore hamstring.
No official injury list has been released so we will have to play the waiting game to see who else will and won’t be playing tonight. Obviously Jonathon Stewart won’t be playing tonight as he continues to recover from a pulled hamstring. Despite his history with injuries I am optimistic about his availability when the season begins.
I had the opportunity to see practice first hand in Spartanburg with my colleague Eliot Cecil last week and took special note of Stewart. He did not participate in practice but seemed active enough on the sidelines to suggest he will be ready for the start of the season. Criticism of Stewart has been heavy since the news of his latest injury broke but he looked eager to get back on the field. When he does get back he will be looking to silence a lot of that criticism and players usually perform at high levels when they have something to prove.
Only time will tell, but that time is not tonight. In the meantime there is plenty to look forward to tonight. Preseason isn’t the most exciting time of the year but for fans hungry for anything football it does well enough to wet our appetites. There will be a lot of young players on the field looking to make a name for themselves so we will surely see something exciting.