Carolina Panthers expected to play Cam Newton as fans hold their breath
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is expected to make his preseason debut tonight.
Cam Newton hasn’t taken a live snap for the Carolina Panthers since last Week 15 when an incomplete pass to tight end Ian Thomas ended his season. The loss, Carolina’s sixth in a row, officially closed the book on a return to the playoffs after a promising 6-2 start, leaving Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen under center for the final two games.
Battling shoulder soreness and an inability to throw the football down the field, Newton underwent a second procedure in an attempt to correct these issues. Coming so soon after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, how the Panthers franchise quarterback responds this season is sure to garner a lot of attention – especially with only one more year on his current contract.
Newton has been fine tuning his mechanics in an effort to remain on the field and avoid any further issues, but fans have yet to see him in live action. Coach Ron Rivera kept a majority of the starters on the sideline last week during preseason game one at Chicago, but that isn’t expected to be the case versus the Buffalo Bills.
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The case for Newton and defensive star, linebacker Luke Kuechly, to sit last week is arguably stronger right now but Rivera has indicated everyone will see some time against Buffalo. This makes less sense considering the Panthers and Bills just spent two days of practice going against one another.
While you can’t simulate the game atmosphere in a training camp practice period, both got to go up against someone other than their teammates in a more controlled environment. Friday night, it’s live but guess what – the results don’t matter. Essentially, the two players Carolina can most ill afford to lose are going to play in a scrimmage risking injury over any potential benefit.
The argument can be made that either could be hurt at any other point, or even in a non-football related injury but that’s not the issue. Here, they’re voluntarily putting themselves in harms way. If either went down in Week 1, no one would question it because that game mattered – this one doesn’t.
A few series next week, when coaches typically keep their starters in the most, is more than sufficient for both of these veterans to be fully prepared for regular season play. Especially since they won’t have just spent a majority of the week practicing against another NFL team.
The Panthers and Bills kick off at 7:00pm ET inside Bank of America Stadium.