CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - Looking forward to seeing Cam Newton on Thursday night? Awesome! You’ll see him on the sideline, dancing and fooling around. You will not see him on the field. Ron Rivera is going to hold out most of his stars from Thursday’s game. Don’t let that deter you from watching the Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the pre-season finale. There’s plenty to watch for, including position battles and few guys who are fighting just to stay in the black and blue.
Let’s start with the obvious. The Panthers being undefeated in the pre-season may not mean much to many, but it does tell us something. This team is deeper than most NFL rosters. Carolina has seen multiple situations where its back-ups have seen time against players who are NFL starter quality. Guys like Taylor Moten, Blaine Clausell and David Mayo are getting reps against some of the league’s elite. That will only serve them well in situations down the road. For some like Mayo and Moten, that will come sooner than later thanks to injuries and suspensions. With lots of people filling in starter gaps, that will leave open roster spots to fill those injuries. Many guys on the roster bubble will stay in uniform over getting signed to the practice or squad… or worse, getting cut completely. On defense watch for Corn Elder, Efe Obada and Kevon Seymour. These guys are all at risk. Elder has had a great showing this pre-season. Injuries in the secondary might force GM Marty Hurney’s hand and give Elder a spot on the 53-man roster. I for one am all for it. England’s own Efe Obada is an interesting situation. He’s a part of the NFL’s international program. If the Panthers wanted, they could keep him on the practice squad outside of the 10 designated spots their allowed. It’s basically an extra roster spot purely because he’s English. Seymour’s experience helps him but he’s struggled as of late and an injury earlier in the pre-season won’t help his cause either. I have him on the chopping block fighting for a spot with Lorenzo Doss. Either both or one of the two won’t survive until Saturday.
QUARTERBACK PARTY OR QUARTERBACK CROWD?
We’ve all heard the expression. Two is a party, three is a crowd. Now it’s up to Hurney and Rivera to decide what kind of soiree they want to have under center. Queue the DJ Khalid because here’s the no brainer. Cam is QB 1. Behind that it has been a mystery. Garrett Gilbert started the pre-season as his back-up, but that no longer seems to be the case. Taylor Heinicke, a man undrafted from Old Dominion, has out played Gilbert and seems to have the inside track. Nicknamed Heineken, Taylor looks more comfortable in the pocket and has produced more with the first and second teams. Rivera has said he will start in Pittsburgh and that confidence could be the factor that knocks Gilbert out of Carolina. I’ve spoken with Rivera about the quarterback situation and he says that both Gilbert and Heinicke deserve to be on that roster. That doesn’t mean they will be. I see Rivera carrying two quarterbacks and one on the practice. Will that be Gilbert? I don’t think so.
CAM LOVES ADELE
When you associate Cam Newton and music, what’s the first thing you think of? Personally, I’ve heard some music in the background of his Instagram and know what he likes on field, so I’m still miffed by his choice of music in the locker room. Grammy award dame, Adele. A majority of the time media come into the locker room, Cam is blasting such songs as “Someone Like You” and “Set Fire To The Rain.” Cam has transformed over the last few years in front of us, but I always marvel at what he does while we’re interviewing other people inside the locker room. Here’s hoping we get some John Mellencamp or Hall & Oates at some point this season. We’re in for a wild ride Panthers fans.