Carolina Panthers announce both Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly will be held out of Thursday’s preseason opener.
The return of live football, even if in the form of preseason games where the outcome is meaningless, is an exciting time for any player, coach, owner or fan. For the Carolina Panthers, that day is Thursday (8/8) against a Chicago Bears team on the rise last season.
First year Bears coach Matt Nagy led his team to the NFC North divisional title on way to the playoffs before a heartbreaking loss in the wildcard round. The Panthers suffered a second half collapse and following a year in which they lost seven in a row before a victory in the season finale, an opportunity to erase those disappointments couldn’t come soon enough.
However, for two key players the chance has been extended an additional week – if not longer. The Panthers announced plans to sit both linebacker Luke Kuechly and quarterback Cam Newton for the opening preseason game and you would be hard pressed to find anyone who could argue this decision.
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Newton underwent another procedure on his throwing shoulder during the offseason, in addition to working on his throwing motion to help eliminate any future issues. While fans now have to wait a little longer before seeing him in live game action, the risk versus reward here just doesn’t add up. Yes, Newton needs a series or two with his new teammates to likely work out some factors that can only be replicated in actual game situations – especially communication, but putting him in harms way with the first regular season game still a month away isn’t a bad idea. They’ll be plenty more opportunities for Newton to mix it up in the coming weeks.
Opposite, Kuechly means just as much to this defense as Newton does on his side of the football. After an injury scare (which remains undisclosed) suffered during training camp practice, the Panthers perennial All Pro defender will also take the sideline in street clothes for game one.
Undoubtedly, how much success the Panthers experience in 2019 depends on both Newton and Kuechly remaining healthy for a majority of the season and delaying their debut shouldn’t be questioned.