With only four days between the Panthers' second and third preseason game, head coach Ron Rivera has decided to give the starters extended action in Sunday night's nationally televised game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Bank of America Stadium.
"We are using this as our dress rehearsal for the season," safety Thomas DeCoud said.
Typically, the third preseason game serves as the "dress rehearsal," but that won't be the case for the Panthers this year.
"We've been waiting all camp to go play, and this is a good opportunity for us," linebacker Luke Kuechly said. "Whenever they want us to play, we are more than happy to be out there."
Here's what to watch as the Panthers look to even their preseason record.
CAM DEBUT: Quarterback Cam Newton is set to make his preseason debut. As for how long he'll play, that will be determined as the game goes on, but Rivera indicated that he wants his star quarterback to play through the first quarter.
"We'll evaluate from there," Rivera said.
Newton's return to game action will greatly benefit the wide receivers and tight ends, who are eager to get accustomed to game speed with their starting quarterback pulling the trigger. Newton said he considers in-game experience with his receivers "very valuable" in the preseason.
Said tight end Greg Olsen: "As pass catchers, our job is to be where he needs us to be, so we've got to adjust to make him feel comfortable."
WILLIAMS, STEWART TOO?: Running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart also appear ready to take the field for the first time in the preseason. Williams was rested in the opener, and Stewart had been nursing a hamstring injury.
Rivera wants to see more from the running game after reserve quarterback Joe Webb led the Panthers with 30 rushing yards in last Friday's opener against the Bills. The return of Williams and Stewart should certainly help that cause against Kansas City.
SECONDARY ANSWERS: When training camp concluded in Spartanburg, Rivera said the defensive backfield was still a work in progress. The cornerback position isn't quite settled, meaning Sunday's game against the Chiefs provides a terrific opportunity for individuals to make their case.
"It's great. You always want that (competition)," DeCoud said. "Competition breeds excellence, and if we can all push each other to get better and make plays on the ball, it is only going to help this football team."
BAG POLICY: The National Football League bag policy designed to enhance safety will be strictly enforced. Under the policy, approved bags must meet the following criteria:
• Small clutch purse no larger than 4.5" x 6.5"
• Any transparent plastic or vinyl bag no larger than 12" x 6" x 12"
• Seat pad that does not contain zippers, clasps, etc., and is not encased in vinyl.
The North and East gates of Bank of America Stadium have recently been renovated to provide improved access with additional screening points of entry. For the most efficient, effective and quickest entry into the stadium, officials recommend the following:
• Arrive at the stadium gates 30 minutes earlier than you have in the past.
• Refrain from bringing items that require a bag check.
|Panthers in the Park||Located at Romare Bearden Park in Third Ward between Church Street and Mint Street and open from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free, interactive area offers fun for the entire family with appearances by the TopCats, Sir Purr and PurrCussion and the Fuel Up to Play 60 Kids Combine, which includes activities like the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, wide receiver/quarterback challenge, TopCats dance studio and inflatable obstacle course.|
|Panthers Lair||Located on the corner of Mint Street and Morehead Street and open from 5:45 to 7:45 p.m., with TopCats signing autographs and posing for photos at the 107.9 The Link booth from 6 to 7 p.m., Sir Purr appearing throughout the evening and a performance by PurrCussion. Learn about protecting your home from CPI Security. Stop by the All-Star Cafe food truck for a quick and delicious meal on the go. Area also features a DJ.|
|Pregame||Panthers Alumni Ceremony|
|Invocation||Pastor Joey Colson - Emmanuel Baptist Church, Hartsville, S.C.|
|Fred T. Foard High School JROTC - Newton, N.C.|
|National Anthem||Delvin Choice|
|Halftime||King BMX Stunt Show|