Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he will entertain the thought of playing some of his starters in Thursday’s exhibition against the Steelers, but history shows it won’t be more than a thought.
Quarterback Cam Newton hasn’t played in the fourth exhibition since his rookie season, and it’s highly unlikely the league MVP will play Thursday against Pittsburgh.
“It’s funny because to a degree the value of the fourth game has been diminished,” River said. “But in this fourth game, it’s important to use because we have a lot of young guys competing and a lot of young guys we really like. We’re going to have to take a nice, hard, long look at guys as we get ready to start making these decisions on who’s going to be on our 53.”
Odds are most of the starters won’t play in an exhibition one week before the season-opener at Denver. But rookies such as cornerbacks Daryl Worley and James Bradberry, who are penciled in as starters, will need as many game reps as possible before facing the Broncos.
Rivera reiterated that the offense’s woes from last week’s loss to New England won’t prompt some change of heart. He again defended the offense’s play by chalking up most of the mistakes to execution, though the first-team offense only posted three points in more than two quarters of work.
Carolina still has to cut four players to get to its roster to 75 by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline. Rivera estimated there are about seven spots left to decide between now and Saturday’s 53-man roster deadline.