Panthers should give Clausen long look

Let’s make this clear that this is personal opinion, nothing more and nothing less.

I’m not saying this will happen. I’m simply saying it should happen.

When the Carolina Panthers play the Pittsburgh Steelers in their preseason finale on Thursday night, they should start Jimmy Clausen at quarterback. They should let him play the entire game and they should let him throw the ball a lot.

We already know we’ll see little -- if any -- of Cam Newton because starters usually play sparingly or not at all in the preseason finale.

We’re counting down toward the start of the regular season and we’re going to have a lot of things coming up in the next week or so. I don’t think the Panthers need to play Newton at all. They already know what they have there -- a franchise quarterback.

They also know what they have in Derek Anderson. A capable veteran backup with long ties to offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. There’s really nothing for the Panthers to gain by playing either Anderson or Newton.

There is something for them to gain by playing Clausen. Take a good long look at him and make a decision on if he has a future with the team. It sure didn’t look like the future was too bright last year as Clausen was inactive for all 16 games.

By all indications, Clausen has handled the demotion from starting as a rookie to being the third-team quarterback as well as possible. But do you really want to keep him around, try to run his inactive streak to 32 games and make him miserable?

Heck, the way the league is going, the Panthers might want to use this game to watch Clausen and decide if they even want to carry three quarterbacks on the active roster. A lot of teams in recent year have gone with only two quarterbacks on the active roster and stashed a third on the practice squad.

Play Clausen and see if there’s any good reason to keep him around. The Panthers could even be pleasantly surprised. If Clausen goes out there and lights it up, they could draw trade interest from another team that’s in the market for a quarterback. I’m not talking anything major -- a conditional draft pick might be the best the Panthers could hope for.

But, hey, at least that would give them something to show (other Clausen’s 2-14 rookie season that wasn’t all his fault) to show for a guy they used a second-round pick on in 2010.