Three things: Panthers-Dolphins

August, 19, 2011
8/19/11
9:04
AM ET

Three things to watch for in Carolina’s preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET:

1. Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen. The Panthers will use this game as the final stage of the competition between Newton, the rookie, and Clausen, the second-year pro. Clausen got the start in the preseason opener and the Panthers want to give Newton his chance to show what he can with the starters. Bottom line here is, if Newton doesn’t make any major mistakes, the Panthers probably will go ahead and name him the starter for the regular season.

2. The return of Thomas Davis. The outside linebacker hasn’t played in 21 months. He’s gone through two major knee injuries and missed some of camp with a foot injury. He appears healthy, but this will be his first real test. If Davis can get back to be anything close to the player he was before the injuries, he can join with Jon Beason, James Anderson and Dan Connor to give Carolina what potentially could be one of the league’s top linebacker corps.

3. Steve Smith’s preseason debut. He sat out last week with a finger injury and it should be interesting to see what kind of chemistry surfaces between him and Newton. Smith and Clausen had some problems last year, although Smith has said that’s been patched over. Smith’s a competitor who wants the ball and he’s been aching for a quarterback who can consistently deliver it to him for a long time.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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