The next step for Cam Newton?

Much like Carolina Panthers fans, and even the players, I don’t claim to know coach Ron Rivera very well just yet.

I’ve met him several times, but it’s not to the point it was with predecessor John Fox. I knew Fox’s tendencies to the point where I could predict his every move and word. I can’t do that with Rivera yet, but all indications are he’s a very logical guy.

That should dictate his next move. The only logical thing to do is go ahead and start rookie quarterback Cam Newton in Friday night’s preseason game at Miami. Jimmy Clausen started Saturday night against the New York Giants, but Newton entered in the second quarter and played into the fourth quarter.

As I’ve said for months now, the Panthers want Newton to be their starter when they open the regular season against Arizona. Of course, that’s contingent on him putting on a respectable showing in the preseason games.

He was more than respectable Saturday night and he was playing with a bunch of backups. It’s time for Rivera to take the next step and see how Newton looks with the starters. If he passes that test and doesn’t suddenly fall apart in the remainder of the preseason, he’ll be starting in Arizona in September.