The third preseason game is commonly treated as a “regular season dress rehearsal” by NFL teams and Thursday night will be no different as the Panthers travel to the Sunshine State to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Here are the big storylines Panthers fans should watch for during Thursday night’s game:

1. Cam Newton Will Start in Jacksonville

Quarterback Cam Newton will make his preseason debut after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery on his partially torn rotator cuff.


Head Coach Ron Rivera told NFL Network’s Tiffany Blackmon, “We’ll see how the flow of the game goes and how long he’ll play.”

Newton will get his chance to shake some of the rust off after sitting out the first two weeks of the preseason, as well as the majority of training camp with his shoulder recovery. It will be interesting to see how the 2015 NFL MVP looks with new slot receiver Russell Shepard as well as rookie running back Christian McCaffrey.

2. Rookie Curtis Samuel Will Make His Debut

Curtis Samuel, the versatile receiver out of Ohio State who the Panthers took in the second round of April’s draft, will see his first action of the preseason as well on Thursday night. Samuel has been dealing with a strained hamstring that kept him out of the first two preseason games.


Although Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula will not show much of his playbook in a preseason game, it will still be interesting to see where Samuel lines up. He has the ability to play in the slot, out wide, and even at running back. The versatility that both Samuel and fellow rookie Christian McCaffrey bring will allow Shula a lot of freedom to showcase his creativity this season with his play calling.

3. James Bradberry vs. Allen Robinson

Yes, it is only preseason but it will still be exciting to see the Panthers young star at cornerback match up against an elite receiver in Allen Robinson. The former Penn State Nittany Lion is a big physical receiver that will be a big test for Bradberry and the other young Panthers cornerbacks. (Let’s hope Chad Henne or Blake Bortles can throw at least one decent pass to Robinson so we can see this matchup).

4. The Panthers Run Defense vs. Jacksonville Running Backs

Leonard Fournette, the one running back drafted ahead of Christian McCaffrey, will miss Thursday night’s game with a foot injury. While we were looking forward to seeing how the Panthers run defense could fare against a running back with his talent, they still will face off against the decent running back tandem of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.


Last week the Panthers (without Luke Kuechly) fared pretty well against Derrick Henry, holding him to 36 yards on 16 carries (2.3 YPC). Can they do the same Thursday night against Ivory and Yeldon?

5. The Panthers Offensive Line vs. Jacksonville Pass Rush

The Panthers offensive line has looked pretty good so far this preseason in their pass protection. They have given up only three sacks, and all three came in the fourth quarter where the third and fourth string linemen were in the game.


The Jaguars boast a solid front seven that can rush the passer, so will the Panthers offensive line protect Newton in his first preseason action?

Game Information:

Thursday August 24, 2017 7:30 PM ET

Carolina Panthers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

EverBank Field Jacksonville, FL

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