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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is improving after cracking several ribs against the New England Patriots on Friday, and he expects to play in the season opener on Sept. 7. But will he be the dual-threat quarterback fans have come to expect?

In NFL terms, Sam Bradford’s second straight awful injury is an earthquake. Cam Newton’s injury is a tremor. But it shakes people up just the same.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. There was only one team on the field Friday night that looked dangerous this season, and it certainly wasn’t the Carolina Panthers.

If you have to play a fake game, at least play it against the New England Patriots, the team NFL fans either love or hate. That’s what the Carolina Panthers will do Friday.

Fowler: Trying to catch up with and return the 130 mph serve of top tennis player John Isner was like trying to capture a whistling green blur.

The Carolina Panthers’ first-team offense presented the classic “half-full, half-empty” quandary to its fans Sunday night in a 28-16 exhibition win against Kansas City at Bank of America Stadium.

As always in the NFL exhibition season, there are questions. Here are four the Carolina Panthers need to start answering Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Kathleen Baker, 17, is the youngest of eight swimmers from SwimMAC Carolina who will compete next week in Australia in the biggest meet of this non-Olympic year – the Pan Pacifics. Baker has a decent chance to make the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

The Charlotte Hornets want to host an NBA All-Star Game, and they made as big a splash as possible to announce that Tuesday. There was a news conference and a podium crowded with men in power ties and a charter plane ready to whisk a half-dozen of them – along with mascot Hugo – to New York to hand-deliver the bid package.

Carolina Panthers linebacker Chase Blackburn remains a starter on defense at the moment, but the Panthers also like A.J. Klein. Blackburn is in his 10th year; Klein is in his second. Inevitably, the switch will be made – maybe in a few weeks, maybe not until next year.

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Scott Fowler is a national award-winning sports columnist for The Charlotte Observer.