The regular season is so close that football fans can smell it in the air! Before the games start counting, however, teams have to play one more exhibition game. The Carolina Panthers (1-2) will close the door on their preseason with a meeting against the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2). Carolina head coach Ron Rivera stated his starters would play in this game; how long they will be in the game remains to be unseen.
One starter will not be suiting up for the preseason finale.
Cam Newton suffered a hairline fracture in his rib against the New England Patriots in last week's contest, and while he only missed one play and returned to action to play out the rest of the half, this decision to bench him is precautionary.
Fans have reason to be concerned about the health of the team's quarterback, but other issues need to be addressed before Week 1 kicks off at Tampa Bay. Can the defense play better? What will it take to get the running game clicking?
Hopefully, some of those issues can be resolved Thursday night.
The two franchises make it an annual event to meet up in the preseason, and this will serve as the first of two meetings this year. Carolina will host Pittsburgh next month on Sunday Night Football in a Week 3 game. Until then, here is the game preview for the Panthers' first matchup with Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.