CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton lost star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the year with a torn ACL, one of the players set to replace his top target has six drops in the last two preseason games and the first-team offense has only two touchdown drives in 15 series.
Not a good way to head into the season, right?
The Carolina Panthers quarterback puts a more positive spin on it.
When asked on Tuesday what his trust level is in the offense heading into Thursday night’s preseason finale at Pittsburgh, Newton responded, “Unbelievable.’’
Newton’s preseason stats are average. He has completed only 54.2 percent of his attempts for two touchdowns and one interception. He has a rating of 77.2, well below his career rating of 85.4.
But drops have played a major role. Corey Brown had two early in the second preseason game, leading to Newton’s 0 for 4 start. Brown had four more in the first half of Friday’s 17-16 loss to New England, including two that would have been touchdowns.
Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen dropped a deep pass.
“Those are things I can’t worry about,’’ Newton said. “It doesn’t affect me not one bit. I just want guys to come in and be ready to play. It looks he’s [Brown] ready to do that.
“Trying to get better is something that has to happen. We can’t just go through the motions. We’re trying for the best product that is going to get us ready for Week 1.’’
Coach Ron Rivera agreed.
“The truth of the matter is in each one of the games, the first couple of series, a couple of things here and couple there,’’ he said. “Then in the third series we make a play.
“Something happens and all of a sudden it’s a spark and ignited. I’d like to see us do that in the first six plays so we can keep it rolling.’’
Rivera responded “we’ll see’’ when asked if Newton would play on Thursday. If past history is an indication, Newton will sit. He hasn’t played in the final preseason game since his rookie season.
Rivera believes his franchise quarterback is ready for the Sept. 13 opener at Jacksonville.
“He’s done some really good things and had a really good camp and worked through a lot of things,’’ Rivera said. “He’s really concentrated and focused on his footwork, which you see daily. I have seen improvements, and I’m excited about that.’’