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Panthers' Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly Won't Play in Preseason Opener vs. Bears

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2019

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton looks to pass during a Fan Fest practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly will not play in Thursday's preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, head coach Ron Rivera announced Tuesday.

Holding them out of the game is a precaution, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Newton is about seven months removed from undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his right shoulder. It marked the second time in less than two years the 2015 NFL MVP had work done on his throwing shoulder, as he previously had surgery in March 2017.

At one point, the team was apparently open to the possibility of holding out Newton for the entire 2019 campaign. Panthers owner David Tepper told the Charlotte Observer's Marcel Louis-Jacques before Newton's surgery in January:

"If you told me that he took a year off and could be fully recovered and everything else and that's what it took, an extra year, why wouldn't you do that? Now, we would have to do other things and we'd have to go out and get another quarterback, which, if you could find me some more cap space, I'd appreciate that."

However, Newton was able to get back to the workout grind by early March. Rivera said he was "ready to roll" when training camp began. In fact, Newton was initially expected to play Thursday, but the team is taking a cautious approach.

He has not played in an NFL game since Dec. 17 after missing the final two games of last season.

Kuechly, meanwhile, suffered an undisclosed injury last week. Rivera made it clear the six-time Pro Bowler was not in the concussion protocol, saying the team was exercising an "abundance of caution."

The 28-year-old noted Tuesday that he "got rolled up weird" (around the 1:50 mark):

Carolina Panthers @Panthers

Luke Kuechly addresses the media https://t.co/rmlDBSOAJY

Both Newton and Kuechly have seven-plus years of NFL experience, so they will know how to prepare for the regular season even if they see limited preseason action.