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Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers will play starters in preseason finale

The Carolina Panthers emerged as a surprise playoff team in 2013. Keyed by a staunch defense and the stellar play of quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers charged through the NFC South and were one of the feel-good stories of the season.

Just one year later, things might be much different. The offensive line is depleted and an already thin wide receiver group is even thinner. Given their unexpected success last season, it is certainly far too early to write the Panthers off, but as of now 2014 does not necessarily look promising.

That was the case in the team’s ugly preseason game against the New England Patriots this week in which they lost 30-7. With that being their third preseason game, that would normally be the last action before the regular season for the starters. Not so for the Panthers after their starters struggled so much.

According to Bill Voth of the Black and Blue Review:

So instead of watching Thursday’s preseason finale from the sideline in Pittsburgh, the starting offense will play. How much they’ll be out there is unclear, but it’s obvious they need more work together.

“It was very evident that we’ve got to get (Newton) out there,” Ron Rivera said. “We’ve got to get our quarterback out on the field, and he’s got to get some timing with those guys.”

This could be a risky tactic for Riverboat Ron. Granted, Newton has been able to stay healthy in his career, but if there is an injury to him or another key player in a meaningless preseason finale, the scrutiny will be overwhelming. It is hard to imagine that the benefit of more preseason action outweighs that risk, but that appears to be Rivera’s plan.

Tags: Carolina Panthers

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