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August 31, 2011

Starters will play briefly against Steelers

After wrapping up the final scheduled practice of the preseason this morning, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said he intends to use the starters for two series in the final preseason game Thursday night against Pittsburgh in Bank of America Stadium.

"We'd like to see things function where things are going well, we're communicating, we're doing the things we're supposed to. That's the biggest thing we want to take from it," Rivera said.

"I'm not concerned about the outcome obviously. I'm concerned about the way we play more than anything else. I want to see good communication, I want to see good operations and then get them off the field."

That means rookie quarterback Cam Newton will likely see limited playing time with second-year quarterback Jimmy Clausen likely playing the bulk of the minutes.

Rivera said offensive tackle Jeff Otah will play as will defensive end Greg Hardy, two projected starters who did not play in the first three preseason games.

With cuts coming Saturday to pare the roster to 53 players, Rivera said he will pay special attention to the defensive line and wide receivers.

Rookie defensive tackles Sione Fua and Terrell McClain struggled at Cincinnati last week and the Panthers will get their first look at Kentwan Balmer in a game situation since adding him to the roster last week.

Rivera also said he's been pleased with the young wide receivers in practice but wants to see them do more in game situations.

Defensive tackle, wide receiver and cornerback are positions where the Panthers could add players when teams cut to 53 on Saturday.

Also, Rivera said rookie wide receiver Kealoha Pilares is nursing a high ankle sprain suffered in practice on Tuesday. He did not participate in the walkthrough today and will be evaluated again Thursday.

"We're a little concerned about it," Rivera said.

-- Ron Green Jr.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 31, 2011 at 11:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)

August 30, 2011

Panthers Release Pike, Robinson; Schwartz on IR

The Panthers got down to their 80-player roster limit today by cutting ties with second-year quarterback Tony Pike and offensive lineman Duke Robinson while putting projected starting guard Geoff Schwartz on the injured reserve list.

The Panthers reached an injury settlement with Pike and put Robinson on the injured/waived list while adding Schwartz to the injured reserve list was an indication that his hip injury is more serious than first thought.

Additionally, the Panthers put tight end Gary Barnidge on the injured reserve list as a result of a broken ankle suffered last week. As expected, they added receiver David Gettis and center Zack Williams to the injured list that already included defensive tackle Ron Edwards and cornerback Cletis Gordon.

The team decided not to sign long snapper Chris Massey, who was brought in for a look last week.

The Panthers will have to reach their 53-player roster Saturday.

  Rivera called the loss of Schwartz, "a tough one. We kinda hoped he would react positively to the treatment and it hasn't. We have to move forward unfortunately for this season and hopefully he can get it taken care of and be ready to go.

  "It's just the situation that it wasn't getting better. They are going to continue the process. He's had some issues and trying to rehab it just didn't work."

   In the absence of Schwartz, the Panthers will rely on Mackenzy Bernadeau and Garry Williams primarily at right guard with C.J. Davis also getting some time there.

-- Ron Green Jr.


Posted by Observer Sports on August 30, 2011 at 01:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (44)

Source: John Kasay likely to sign with Saints

Observer columnist Scott Fowler is reporting that a source has told him former Panthers kicker John Kasay, released in favor of kicker Olindo Mare before training camp began, is likely to sign with the New Orleans Saints. More details as we have them.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 30, 2011 at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Tuesday's Carolina Panthers links

Tuesday's Carolina Panthers links:

From The Charlotte Observer

Fowler: Don't count out Jimmy Clausen just yet

Kentwan Balmer wants to do more than fill a gap

Notes: More snaps for Cam Newton vs. Steelers?

Report: Jeremy Shockey saves teammate's life

From the Gaston Gazette:

Balmer hopes new start rejuvenates career

Notes: Clausen (thigh) expected to play Thursday

Posted by Observer Sports on August 30, 2011 at 07:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 29, 2011

How much will Cam Newton play against Pittsburgh?

   Head coach Ron Rivera said he won't decide until after Tuesday's practice how much rookie quarterback Cam Newton will play Thursday night when the Panthers play their final preseason game against Pittsburgh in Bank of America Stadium.

    Typically, starters don't play much during the final preseason game but it's different in Newton's case as he adjusts to the NFL without the benefit of OTAs and minicamps.

   "What I'm hoping for is we got the extra day of practice this week so I'd really like to see how we come through tomorrow's practice," Rivera said. "We'll have some first bunch against each other and see what kind of tempo we get out of that. That will help gauge how much we play them.

   "You always worry about the last one. We'll see."

   Rivera said he expects second-year quarterback Jimmy Clausen to play against the Steelers, provided doctors give him clearance. Clausen suffered a thigh injury when he was hit from behind in the Miami game last week and missed a day of practice. However, the injury wasn't serious and Clausen has been sharp in practice.

   "He got a few reps today and he looked pretty good actually. We expect if Jimmy gets the go ahead to play, we expect to play him," Rivera said.

   In other matters:

   -- Rivera said offensive guard Duke Robinson suffered a concussion last week and is following the NFL protocol in his recovery. Robinson was sent home Sunday and returned to the team facility Monday but did not practice.

   -- Offensive guard Mackenzy Bernadeau missed Monday's practice due to a turf toe while running back DeAngelo Williams was given the day off to rest a tender foot.

   "(Williams) has had a really good camp," Rivera said.

  -- The Panthers must trim their roster to 80 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Their 89-man roster includes cornerback Cletis Gordon and defensive tackle Ron Edwards who are on injured reserve, effectively putting their roster at 87. Under NFL rules the Panthers can't add receiver David Gettis nor center Zack Williams to the injured reserve list until after the final cuts are made Saturday.

-- Ron Green Jr.

Posted by Observer Sports on August 29, 2011 at 04:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (55)

Monday's Carolina Panther links

Monday's Carolina Panthers links:

From The Charlotte Observer:

Joe Person projects the final 53-man roster

Three screws in foot, but Jon Beason close to return

From The Gaston Gazette:

Jon Beason optimistic about opener

Notes: Rivera impressed with Thomas Davis

From elsewhere:

Anderson Ind.-Mail: Tattoo controversy much ado about nothing

Posted by Observer Sports on August 29, 2011 at 06:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

August 28, 2011

Sunday's Carolina Panthers links

Sunday's Carolina Panthers links:

From The Charlotte Observer:

Steve Smith's trust in coach a longstanding key

Cam Newton to start again, 'working toward being the guy'

Scott Fowler: Offensive line an unexpected weak link

From the Gaston Gazette:

Rivera holds off naming Newton starter for opener

From elsewhere:

ESPN: Cam Newton one step from starting

Posted by Observer Sports on August 28, 2011 at 08:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

August 27, 2011

Rivera: Cam Newton working toward being "our guy"

Barring injury, Cam Newton is going to be the starting quarterback Sept. 11 at Arizona.

Ron Rivera hasn't said that, yet.

He doesn't have to: Anyone who has been around this team – be it players, support staff, media, you name it – has seen it coming.

The Panthers picked Newton first overall, knowing he would be a work in progress in terms of becoming a polished passer. So, how's Newton best going to develop – watching Jimmy Clausen for several weeks or getting out in the fray himself?

Heard a national sports-radio host today claim Clausen has out-played Newton this preseason. I'd say that's a stretch.

Clausen's numbers are marginally better than Newton's, but Clausen hasn't done anything spectacular.

Newton has engineered one touchdown drive in three exhibition games, Clausen two – although one of Clausen's was a 15-yard drive following a Matt Moore fumble.

Does Newton have a long ways to go in terms of mechanics and recognition of fronts and coverages? Absolutely.

But his 16-yard touchdown scramble the other night at Cincinnati is a play Clausen will never make.

The Panthers are not a playoff team this year, anyway. So why not take your lumps with Newton in the hopes you're a much improved team in 2012?

Clausen was out today with a knee/thigh injury he sustained against the Bengals. Derek Anderson is not in the running for the starting job.

So why not go ahead and name Newton?

I think it has most to do with team chemistry. On the night they drafted Newton No. 1 overall, Rivera made sure to point out the Heisman Trophy winner would not be handed the job.

I asked Rivera today about the scenarios in which Newton would not be the starter against the Cardinals.

The big thing is to continue to see how he handles everything. We have to really study him and watch him. We have to make sure he's progressing in the right direction,” Rivera said.

This is a very sincere thing for us. We don't want to just say, 'Hey, you're the guy,' and walk away from it. At the same time, we want him to understand that he is working toward being our guy.”

--Joseph Person


Posted by Observer Sports on August 27, 2011 at 05:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (49)

Saturday's Carolina Panthers links

Saturday's Carolina Panthers links:

From The Charlotte Observer:

Is defense the Panthers' biggest concern?

From the Gaston Gazette:

Breaking down the numbers from loss

From elsewhere:

AP: Newton arrived a ready-made star

Toronto Sun: Newton looks good off field, not on


Posted by Observer Sports on August 27, 2011 at 09:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

August 26, 2011

Friday's Carolina Panthers links

Friday's Carolina Panthers links:

From The Charlotte Observer

Panthers stumble again, lose to Bengals

Fowler: Newton off target in 2nd start

Notes: Panthers get former Tar Heel Balmer

Scott Says: Defense still needs work

Game statistics

Photo gallery

From the Gaston Gazette:

Rivera concerned with defense after loss

Notes: Panthers hope Balmer will flourish in 4-3

From elsewhere:

Cincy Enquirer: Bengals bounce back with win over Panthers

Cincy Enquirer: Maualuga leads strong defensive effort

ESPN: Stop spilling ink over Newton and tatoos

CBS Sports: Newton doesn't look ready

ESPN: What happened to Chris Gamble?

Posted by Observer Sports on August 26, 2011 at 07:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)