There’s a temptation for the Panthers to wrap quarterback Cam Newton in bubble wrap and keep him safe until the regular season after offseason ankle surgery.
Then again, that plan didn’t work out so well for Washington and Robert Griffin III last year, so they know they have to play him.
According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, the Panthers are going to play Newton next week in the preseason finale for the simple reason that he needs the work.
“It was very evident that we’ve got to get [Newton] out there,” Rivera said. “We’ve got to get our quarterback out on the field, and he’s got to get some timing with those guys.”
Of course, he’ll be sore when he does go back out there, as he took a shot to the back and ribs. He returned to the game after missing a play, and didn’t talk to reporters afterward.
“He’s sore. There’s nothing there. They took X-rays just to make sure, and those are negative,” Rivera said.
Of course, “nothing there,” is a good summation of the Panthers starting offense, which didn’t scratch against the Patriots last night.
A makeshift line which was dealing with injuries to boot couldn’t protect him. They didn’t run much, and the backs didn’t pass-protect very well. Receivers didn’t get open, and Newton didn’t see some of the ones who did.
It’s the kind of thing you almost expect out of a group which wasn’t able to practice together while Newton recovered.
“I knew they had to play (against the Steelers), but just how much was really dependent on how well they played tonight,” Rivera said. “And obviously we didn’t play well enough.”
And obviously, it’s not a good sign for a team many expect to regress this season, for exactly the reasons they showed.