What to watch: Panthers vs. Steelers


Above all else, the final preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers means one thing: final chance for fringe players to make a statement before roster cuts.

Senior writer Bryan Strickland detailed it yesterday, and head coach Ron Rivera spoke about the game's importance when it comes to final roster decisions.

"This is a very important game, because you have a number of starters that won't play a lot. The young guys will get their opportunities to come in and show us what they can do. We have a lot of battles. There are a lot of guys that are fighting for positions on this team," Rivera said.

The Panthers and Steelers will square off at 7:30 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium to close out the preseason. Starters will get very limited action, and it will be a chance for backups and young players to shine.  

Here's what to watch.

RBs GET THEIR CHANCE: The fourth preseason game was always going to be a big opportunity for running backs Tauren Poole and Armond Smith.

But with Jonathan Stewart on the physically unable to perform list and the status of Mike Tolbert and Kenjon Barner uncertain for Week 1, they'll be aiming to prove that they can handle some work behind DeAngelo Williams in the regular season.

"They are going to get a real good dose this (Thursday)," Rivera said. "We'll have an opportunity to really see what they're capable of."

HIXON DEBUT?: Wide receiver Domenik Hixon has yet to play in the preseason because of a hamstring injury, but he's readying to make his debut Thursday.

Rivera said Hixon has progressed throughout the week and is hoping he can assimilate quickly.

"We expect to see him out there and we expect him to do some good things," Rivera said. "He's a veteran. I think he's going to help the group. I'm excited to see him."

EYES ON THE LINE: The coaching staff and front office will be paying close attention to the line of scrimmage, as several players are battling for spots on the offense and defensive lines.

We'll see how many snaps recent signing Travelle Wharton receives in his first game and how Chris Scott responds to starting in place of injured left guard Amini Silatolu.

Fuel Up To Play 60 Kids Combine Located on the Panthers' practice field adjacent to Bank of America Stadium and open from 5:15 to to 7 p.m. Free, interactive area promotes youth fitness through a variety of football skills and drills for children and their families. Activities include 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 5:15 to 7:15 p.m., with TopCats signing autographs and posing for photos at the 107.9 The Link booth and Sir Purr appearing throughout the evening. Experience the Rapid Strike Simulator, a unique reality ride that immerses visitors in the high-tech world of the U.S. Air Force and takes them on a real mission. Stop by one of Charlotte's best food trucks at Queen City Q, learn about protecting your home from CPI Security and enjoy giveaways, games and more from Forms & Supply, Inc. Area also features a DJ and offers food and drink sales.
Invocation Rev. Dr. Dean Allen - Fernwood Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C.
Of Colors
Pendleton (S.C.) High School JROTC
National Anthem Phil Stacey
Halftime Chicago Boyz acrobatic team, Countdown to Kickoff presentation and Panthers Privileges jersey giveaway

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