Although the signs point to quarterback Cam Newton starting the regular-season opener for the Panthers, the Panthers have yet to commit to the first overall pick in the draft as the opening-day starter.
Newton will get a chance to make his case one more time for the job (or to lose it), when he starts the preseason finale against the Steelers.
“The big thing is to continue to see how he handles everything,” coach Ron Rivera said Saturday, via Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com. “We have to really study him and watch him. We have to make sure he’s progressing in the right direction. This is a very sincere thing for us. We don’t want to just say, ‘Hey, you’re the guy,’ and walk away from it. At the same time, we want him to understand that he is working towards being our guy.”
It makes sense for the Panthers to give Newton a whirl. Apart from the fact that the current trend in the NFL favors a baptism by fire, the alternatives are Jimmy Clausen and Derek Anderson.
In three preseason appearances, Newton has thrown 52 passes, connecting on 21. That’s a completion percentage of only 40.3. He has generated 275 yards, an average of 5.28 per attempt. Newton has thrown no touchdown passes, and no interceptions.
Clausen has completed 17 of 29 passes for 173 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.