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Panthers' Cam Newton on extra series: 'It had to happen'

Nobody was more thankful that Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera gave the first-team offense an extra series in Friday night’s preseason opener at Buffalo than quarterback Cam Newton.

Newton didn’t want to end his night 1-for-6 for 15 yards any more than Rivera did.

The fifth-year quarterback took full advantage of his third series, going 4-for-4 for 83 yards. He capped his night with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin.

“Thank coach,’’ Newton told reporters after third-string quarterback Joe Webb rallied Carolina for a 25-24 victory. “Thank you for giving me another chance. It’s kind of irregular to see the ones stay out on the field, especially in the first [preseason] game.

“But it had to happen, especially with the things we were doing offensively. ... We’ve got to make sure moving forward we get those wrinkles ironed out before the third series of the game.’’

Rivera’s plan was to let Newton play the first quarter, get in 12 to 15 snaps and call it a night. But after two series the offense had only eight snaps, so Rivera sent the first unit out one more time.

This time Newton had better protection from the offensive line and was able to successfully complete a couple of deep passes to keep Buffalo’s first-team defense honest.

“We got the ball vertical,’’ Rivera said. “When we do that, we give ourselves a chance. And that’s big. The protection was there. I really liked what the offensive line did.

“This was a good defensive front, and I was very pleased to see what our guys did. I wanted to make sure we got a good opportunity. It’s a good defensive team against our offense, and I was pleased with what happened.’’