Starters not playing in the preseason is nothing new, but most of the time, they have played a little bit more prior to the preseason finale.
Newton, coming off shoulder surgery in March, missed the first two games and got one possession last week against the Jaguars.
It was a good possession, as he led his team on a 10-play touchdown drive. But he only threw two passes for 21 yards, hardly testing his arm.
The Panthers know that creates a huge unknown going into their Sept. 10 opener at San Francisco. But they have expressed confidence that Newton’s rehab is on track. He had a hiccup early in camp, when four straight days of throwing necessitated 12 days off to recover from the residual soreness.
If he’s well, the Panthers ought to be able to contend in the NFC. But until he’s able to show he can play on a regular basis, that’s more of a hope than a plan.