Panthers quarterback Cam Newton won’t play Thursday when Carolina opens its preseason schedule at the Chicago Bears.
Coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday that Kyle Allen, who made one start last season, will start in Newton’s place. Linebacker Luke Kuechly also will not play.
When asked why he wouldn’t play Newton in the first of Carolina’s four preseason games, Rivera said: “Just to be careful. I mean this game -- there’s not really much to this one. And there are a lot of things we want to see from the young guys. By doing that, we give Kyle an opportunity right off the bat.”
Newton’s play during the preseason will be “limited,” Rivera said. This, the coach added, will also allow the team to decide on the No. 2 quarterback. Allen is listed above rookie Will Grier, a third-round pick, for now on Carolina’s depth chart for the backup role to Newton.
Kuechly said he was hit in the side last week, confirming he was not in the concussion protocol. He jokingly expressed frustration that he has been in “timeout” during live drills at recent practices due to what Rivera has termed “an abundance of caution.”
Newton hasn’t played a down since a loss to the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 17 of last season (Week 15) in a performance that saw him go 16 of 29 passing for only 131 yards and an interception while being sacked four times. In January, the team announced he had undergone arthroscopic shoulder surgery — less than two years after he had surgery for a partially torn rotator cuff in the same throwing shoulder.
One of the biggest concerns about Newton’s abilities once he’s healthy is the reliability of arm strength to stretch the field on deep passing routes — historically, one of his major assets. He has shown through 11 days of training camp that he can still sling the ball deep, but doing so in practice versus doing so against a live rush could have different outcomes. NFL fans will have to wait at least another week, when the the Bills come to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Aug. 16, to see Newton in action.
Newton played in the first three preseason games last year and threw the ball nine times in the 2018 exhibition opener at Buffalo.
Rookie running back Jordan Scarlett, who has missed practice since Friday’s Fan Fest in Charlotte, is also out for the Bears game.
Rivera described Scarlett as having a lower-back injury. A fifth-round pick out of Florida, Scarlett is contending to be Christian McCaffrey’s backup.
▪ McCaffrey got a veteran day off Tuesday, Ironically, McCaffrey’s father, Ed, who played 12 NFL seasons as a wide receiver, was in Spartanburg doing some radio work.
▪ A big practice Tuesday for tight end Ian Thomas, including a leaping catch in the back of the end zone.
▪ Defensive ends Efe Obada and Marquis Haynes, who each were excused Monday for personal reasons, were back at practice Tuesday.
▪ Defensive back Corn Elder picked off Newton in a goal-line drill. That was the second time in as many practices Newton was intercepted in that drill.