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A good dress rehearsal opportunity for Panthers QB Cam Newton

The Carolina Panthers play their third preseason game at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday against the New England Patriots at Bank of America Stadium.

Coach Ron Rivera plans to let the starters play into the third quarter.

Here are a couple things to watch for:

Why watch: The defending Super Bowl champions are in town. So is Tom Brady and the "Deflategate" circus. Why not watch? This should be a good dress rehearsal for starters on both sides. For Carolina, watch to see if Cam Newton and his receivers can get on track against a defense that clinched the Super Bowl win against Seattle with a last-second interception. Newton has only one touchdown drive on seven series. Defensively, watch to see how the Panthers deal with a Hall of Fame quarterback looking to find his rhythm before the start of season, whenever that will be for a player still facing a four-game suspension. Brady has only one first down in five series.

Did you know: The Panthers could have rookie wide receiver Devin Funchess (hamstring) playing for the first time since Kelvin Benjamin suffered a season-ending injury. The second-round pick out of Michigan is the top candidate to fill the No. 1 spot. He returned to practice on Wednesday, which gives him a chance to face the Patriots. The defense could have two of its three missing starters -- end Charles Johnson and tackle Kawann Short -- up front for the first time this preseason. Tackle Star Lotulelei (foot) likely won’t play before the September 13 opener.