Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera was coy about whether his starters would play Thursday night in Pittsburgh, but history reveals you shouldn’t expect the top guns to be on the field.
Starting quarterback Cam Newton has only played in the final exhibition of preseason once in his five-year career. That came in his rookie season, when he played nine snaps, went 3-for-5 passing and scored a touchdown.
Since 2012, Newton, running back Jonathan Stewart, linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis and tight end Greg Olsen have not played in the preseason finale.
“As we get ready to go (to Pittsburgh), we’re going to talk about that (Tuesday),” Rivera said. “We’re going to talk about playing time and who we feel needs to get in and get out, who we need to see a little bit longer. We’ll determine that once we get a chance to sit down.”
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What happens in the game will go far in determining who gets cut this weekend. The Panthers have until Saturday afternoon to take their 75 players down to 53 before the league deadline.