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Newton will start Panthers' third preseason game

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Panthers head coach Ron Rivera announced Sunday that rookie Cam Newton, the top overall pick in the 2011 draft, will start the team's preseason game against the Bengals on Aug. 25.

Rivera said that while Newton will play the first three quarters of Carolina's third preseason game, it doesn't mean that Newton will start the team's season opener against the Cardinals on Sept. 11.

"It will give us an opportunity to see how he'll handle the whole game experience and we'll go from there," Rivera said. "It makes him the starter for Thursday. We are still in the evaluation process after having gone through a game where we did some good things, but not enough good things."

Newton started and played the entire first half of Carolina's 20-10 loss to the Dolphins last Friday night. He completed 7-of-14 passes for 66 yards. He also had four carries for 18 yards. The Panthers did not score while he was under center.

The way we see it

This is a pretty good indication that the Panthers are leaning toward making Newton the Week One starter. The third preseason game is usually considered a dry run for the regular season, with the starters seeing the most time of any preseason game.

Newton likely would have to fall flat on his face — or get hurt — to not earn the starting job at this point.

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