Panthers: 3 burning questions following third preseason game
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Panthers: 3 burning questions following third preseason game

The Carolina Panthers faced the New England Patriots in their third preseason game on Thursday night. Ron Rivera elected to deploy his starters to begin the game but his plan got off track fairly early in the game.

Fans were anxious to see Cam Newton get his first action in the preseason but his day came to a close in the first quarter. The Panthers franchise quarterback was avoiding the pass rush of the Patriots before diving to the ground in pain.

Newton hobbled off of the field and he suffered an injury that is being described as a mid-foot sprain. Moving forward, Rivera is going to play it safe and allow Newton to recover from the injury before returning to practice.

Besides the Newton injury, there wasn’t much going on in the game with both teams combining for just 13 points. In the end, New England came out on top to improve to 3-0 in the preseason.

As for the Panthers, they fall to 1-2 in the preseason after losing their last two exhibition games. Thankfully, the preseason games don’t hold much merit over what happens in the regular season.

After their third preseason game against the Patriots, there may be a few questions that may be asked for the team.

3. Will Jordan Scarlett earn a prominent role in the offense?

On Thursday night, Christian McCaffrey made his preseason debut but didn’t play much. McCaffrey’s role on the team isn’t in jeopardy, but the Panthers are trying to find a backup who is capable of taking effective touches.

After McCaffrey exited the game, rookie Jordan Scarlett was the first running back to take the field. The Panthers took Scarlett in the fifth round of this year’s draft from Florida.

Surprisingly, Cameron Artis-Payne didn’t take any snaps versus New England, but that may have been so Rivera could get a look at the other guys in the backfield. Nonetheless, Scarlett touched the ball 11 times but he managed only 32 yards.

After the third preseason contest, Carolina likely still hasn’t decided on the de facto backup. Scarlett will have one more game to wiggle his way into the Panthers’ offense.

2. Was Brian Burns overlooked in the draft process?

After three weeks of the preseason, the Panthers seemed to have found a perfect replacement for Julius Peppers. It may be the preseason but Brian Burns has been an absolute force off the edge.

Carolina fell in love with Burns in the draft process and ended up using the 16th overall pick on the edge rusher out of Florida State. In his preseason debut against the Chicago Bears, Burns was able to bring down the quarterback twice; he did his Spider-Man sack celebrations.

To follow that up, the rookie sack artist was able to add to his sack total with two more against the Patriots. After watching him rush the passer, it makes you wonder if he was overlooked by other teams.

Just based on pure talent, Burns likely should have been a top 10 selection in this year’s draft. One person who isn’t complaining about where he went in the draft is Ron Rivera.

1. Will Cam Newton be ready by Week 1?

As previously discussed, Cam Newton took the field for the first time since Week 14 of the 2018 season. This offseason, Newton received shoulder surgery; the mobile quarterback recovered from that procedure before training camp began.

Throughout his recovery, Newton was forced to rework his throwing motion. Thus, Rivera and the fans were curious to evaluate his quarterback in a game setting on Thursday.

Newton was expected to play a majority of the first half, but his day was cut short by an injury to his foot. That was the last thing the Panthers wanted to see, but thankfully, the injury doesn’t seem serious.

Rivera already said that Carolina’s franchise quarterback won’t play in the fourth preseason game. That doesn’t surprise anyone, but will he be ready to suit up in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams?

For now, that remains to be seen, but general manager Marty Hurney seems ‘cautiously optimistic‘ that Newton will be prepared to face the reigning NFC champions on September 8.