The Carolina Panthers don’t intend to audition other quarterbacks, despite starter Cam Newton’s uncertain status for the Sept. 8 opener against the Los Angeles Rams, coach Ron Rivera said Saturday.
Newton sustained a left mid-foot sprain in the first quarter of Thursday’s 10-3 preseason loss to the New England Patriots. Newton didn’t participate in practice Saturday and is still wearing a protective boot, Rivera said. Although backups Kyle Allen and Will Grier have been shaky this preseason, the team isn’t looking for alternatives, based on Rivera’s comments.
“No. We’re really good about who we have,” Rivera said when asked if they’re inclined to work out other quarterbacks.
“We really like what we’re seeing. There have been some things, in terms of decision-making, that have been pretty good. [Allen and Grier] haven’t delivered a good ball a couple of times — that’s been disappointing because we’ve had some guys who’ve been wide open — but the progress that you see at practice, I know it’s not games, but you see the growth.”
Ideally, the Panthers would ride out growing pains in order to have at least one young quarterback behind the 30-year-old Newton.
“We’re trying to develop one or two guys who can be here a while alongside Cam,” Newton said
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said Friday he is “cautiously optimistic” Newton’s injury will heal in time for him to start against the Rams. The Panthers never planned to play Newton in the final preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, so Newton’s absence only changes the practice plan this week.
Rivera said Allen, who started the first two preseason games and replaced Newton in New England, got most of the reps with the first-team offense Saturday. The Panthers invested a third-round pick in rookie Grier, the first quarterback the team has drafted since selecting Newton No. 1 overall in 2011.
Neither player has distinguished himself, and it’s possible there won’t be clear No. 2 behind Newton established before the Rams game. Grier needs to get through his progressions faster and has thrown interceptions in two of the Panthers’ three preseason games. Allen has been more steady, but he didn’t move the offense against either the Buffalo Bills or Patriots.
“I think there were just a lot of little things all around, including myself, that we missed out on,” Allen said of the Panthers not scoring until the fourth quarter. “We’re just putting ourselves in bad positions and not converting when we need to.”
The Panthers ended the Patriots game just 2 of 12 in third-down conversions.
Although Rivera anticipates Newton getting some practice activity this week, the priority is addressing the injury with utmost caution.
“We’re going to take it day-by-day,” Rivera said. “There is no timetable.”