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Thursday, September 1, 2011
Cam Newton solid in preseason finale

By Pat Yasinskas

I think we’ve seen enough -- for now.

Cam Newton did enough to earn the right to be the opening-day starter for the Carolina Panthers when they travel to Arizona on Sept. 11.

He led one very nice touchdown drive against the Steelers on Thursday, and that’s really all Ron Rivera and his coaching staff wanted to see. They’ve had Newton ticketed for the job all along, but they just wanted to see something positive.

Newton led a nine-play drive in his only series against the Steelers. He threw a couple of nice passes and had a nice run. There were no mistakes -- and that’s good enough.

The Panthers know there will be ups and downs in his rookie season, but they just wanted a sign that progress is being made, so they can hope for more as time goes on. The sign came when Newton threw his first touchdown pass of the preseason -- a 10-yarder to veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey.

There also was a beautiful run where Newton got a great block from receiver Steve Smith. Newton gave way to Derek Anderson late in the first quarter, but he left on a high note. That’s all the Panthers wanted.

On a night when most starting quarterbacks around the league were sitting out, Newton went out and solidified the starting job.