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Cam Newton glad to be back on field for Carolina Panthers

By The Sports Xchange
Cam Newton glad to be back on field for Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton passes against the Washington Redskins in a game last season. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers are feeling much better about their preseason progress after seeing most of the pieces in place.

That's what the third preseason game accomplished, with quarterback Cam Newton finally on the field in game situations. He wasn't alone in making a 2017 preseason debut, with center Ryan Kalil and rookie wide receiver Curtis Samuel joining him.

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Head coach Ron Rivera gave a thumbs-up to Newton's performance and that was as much about his decision-making as it was his production. He completed both of his passes, one resulting in a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"He did what he was supposed to do," Rivera said. "He read defenses. He made the right calls and did things he was supposed to do with the football."

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Now that Newton has played, there will be another round of questions regarding his availability for the final preseason game Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"We're going to go through the week, we'll evaluate," Rivera said.

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Newton took advantage of his opportunity to take snaps with a purpose, realizing there's a short window before the first game.

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"A lot of guys were anxious to produce, including myself," Newton said after the game. "We were trying to make a big splash. Now we just have to sustain that."

With Newton in the mix, it could reduce the speculation about his status.

"Obviously, it's nice to have your quarterback back," tight end Greg Olsen said.

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It wasn't just the Newton appearance that provided the encouraging aspect in the 24-23 victory. Kalil finally making it onto the field for game action, albeit limited, was another reassuring development.

And, perhaps even more important, Samuel played. He was on the field for more plays than he might have been otherwise, but it was his first preseason game and he has some catching up to do.

"One of the things that we wanted to see was the explosiveness, and he does have it," Rivera said of Samuel.

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To what degree the timing will develop between Newton and Samuel still could be an issue because they haven't had a lot of work together. But Samuel's presence is expected to offer a change of pace among the receiving group and that's something the Panthers have expressed that they're intent on making the most of.

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Rivera hasn't lost his desire to make sure physical play remains a priority. So he prefers to put an emphasis on running the ball, something that could take pressure off Newton.

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