Panthers prepared to be patient with Newton

Posted Sept. 10, 2011 @ 9:08 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

The Panthers' level of commitment to making Cam Newton a starter from Day One was tested in the preseason.

Time was not on the coaching staff's or Newton's side when Newton, the first overall pick in this year's draft, signed his contract and reported to training camp. The regular season was about six weeks away. That's all the time he would have to prepare with the full team and staff for the regular season because of the lockout.

He had good moments in the preseason — and didn't throw an interception — but threw only one touchdown and completed just 42 percent of his passes (24-of-57).

While the starting job may have been open to competition, Jimmy Clausen never made a push to for it, and Derek Anderson was never really in the running. It was no surprise when first-year head coach Ron Rivera finally said after the fourth preseason game that Newton would start in Week One.

Thanks in part to the club's big spending in free agency, which kept some key players from departing, there's an expectation that the Panthers will be better than their 2-14 record of a season ago. This is not a win-or-get-out season for the decision makers in Carolina, though, which eased any concerns over playing Newton from the start. There's a strong element of security that has been established by owner Jerry Richardson. GM Marty Hurney is looking long term at building the team.

It's likely that Newton will test Rivera's patience this season as he deals with the growing pains of transitioning to the pros, but indications are Rivera won't be quick to sit Newton for Anderson, who appears to be the primary backup for now, or Clausen.

We hear Anderson has looked good in practice. He knows, and is comfortable in, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's system, having played for the coach when both were with the Browns, but he won't be playing unless Newton gets hurt or completely unravels.

As for Clausen's future — we're told some around him feel the best thing for him will be to step back and stay on the sideline this season after leading the team to a 1-9 record as a starter in 2010. The Panthers will continue to speak highly of Clausen, a second-round pick in 2010, and consider their options with him again next offseason.

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