Clausen and Newton to QB Panthers 1st team

Associated Press
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton calls a play during NFL football training camp in Spartanburg, S.C., Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Jimmy Clausen and Cam Newton will share snaps with the Panthers' first-team offense in the preseason opener, though Clausen will start at quarterback

Coach Ron Rivera said most starters outside of the offensive line will generally play about 12 to 15 plays against the New York Giants, although that could vary.

"What we'd like to do is get some good efficient drives with Jimmy and then we can get with Cam and get him some real good efficient drives," Rivera said. "We're hoping to make sure we got the right offensive lines out there. We have to be real smart about that, while at the same time we don't want kill anybody either."

The Panthers will be without several key players, including wide receiver Steve Smith and guard Geoff Schwartz on offense, and defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis and cornerbacks Chris Gamble and Captain Munnerlyn on defense.

Also, wide receiver David Gettis and defensive tackle Ron Edwards were placed on injured reserve.

In practice, Clausen has been getting all of the reps with the first-team offense.

"It's kind of the natural progression of things," Rivera said. "Things are going good and both guys are doing a heck of a job and what we've done is kind of alternate reps. So we will continue it this week and see how it goes when we get to Monday."

Clausen went 1-9 as a rookie starter and finished with the league's worst quarterback rating.

"It's going to be a good test for us," Clausen said. "We have to come out of the box fast and put some points on the board and keep progressing like we've been doing every day."

Rivera said he's not close to making a decision on who'll start the team's Sept. 11 regular season opener at Arizona.

"Myself and Cam have had ups and downs throughout camp and we're still learning," Clausen said. "We're still young and I think tomorrow is another big test. I can't wait to get out there."

The Panthers will be featuring a new offense under Rob Chudzinski that's expected to look entirely different than the more conservative one they ran under former offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson and coach John Fox.

Rivera said his starters can plan to play more than they have in past preseasons because they're still trying to learn the team's new offensive and defensive schemes.

"We missed out on 24 practices, roughly 1,500 snaps," Rivera said. "And the guys that it's really tough on are the undrafted free agents, because that's when they would get most of their opportunities.

"You can't afford to put those guys out there. What you have to do is put the guys out there that need the reps, so those young guys are missing them. Unfortunately, it's kind of happenstance, and you wish it wasn't that way."

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