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Newton to start preseason finale but not Panthers' guy just yet

Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton will start next week's preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers and is poised to be the team's starter when the regular season opens Sept. 11.

That's not news for anyone following the Panthers, and the only obstacle, barring an injury, is the official word from coach Ron Rivera. But he isn't announcing Newton as his starter just yet.

"The big thing I think is to continue to see how he handles everything," Rivera said Saturday when asked what might keep Newton from starting, according to multiple reports. "We have to really study him and watch him and make sure he's progressing in the right direction. This is a very sincere thing for us. We just don't want to say, 'You're the guy,' and walk away from it and go from there. At the same time, we want him to understand that he is working toward being our guy."

Newton made his second consecutive start Thursday's 24-13 preseason loss in Cincinnati, but he was overshadowed by Bengals rookie Andy Dalton. Newton, who entered the game with a 65.2 passer rating, played into the third quarter and finished 6 of 19 for 75 yards and a 44.8 rating. He ran for 41 yards in the first half, including a 16-yard scramble for a touchdown.

"It's unacceptable on my part," Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, said after the game. "I've got to make the proper reads and get in a comfort zone. Third-and-long is not a situation we want to be in. A checkdown is not a bad thing."

Still, the Panthers had just two healthy quarterbacks at practice Saturday. Jimmy Clausen was held out with a knee/thigh injury he suffered during the fourth quarter of Thursday's loss, according to the Gaston Gazette, and Tony Pike underwent surgery to repair nerve damage in his right elbow and is out indefinitely. Veteran Derek Anderson took snaps with the second-team offense.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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