SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The leaders of both the offense and defense -- quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly -- will not play in Carolina's preseason opener at Chicago, head coach Ron Rivera said on Tuesday.
"It's just to be careful," Rivera said. "There are a lot of things that we want to see from the young guys. By doing that, we give Kyle (Allen) an opportunity right off the bat. We're going to have a few more games where his reps are certainly going to be limited. Everything we are doing with Cam has been mapped out and everything is fine. Norv (Turner) and Scott (Turner) have sat down and talked things over with (head athletic trainer) Ryan Vermillion. Again, we are just going through the next step in the process."
Rivera said second-year quarterback Kyle Allen will start in place of Newton, while second-year linebacker Jermaine Carter is expected to start for Kuechly.
Despite being held out of several practices last week, Kuechly confirmed Tuesday that he wasn't in the concussion protocol.
"My head is good. I wasn't in the protocol," Kuechly said. "Like coach has said, I just got rolled up weird and they said, 'You gotta sit out, Luke,' and you gotta listen to what they say. I practiced the last few days. Everything is fine. I just got hit weird on the side, but it's all good."
Kuechly has gone through individual drills and participated in more team drills over the last few practices. Like Rivera, he's excited to see what younger players like Carter will do with their opportunities against the Bears.
"JC (Jermaine Carter) does some stuff a little bit like Shaq," Kuechly said. "They can play strongside or weakside. You can put him in the slot. He's athletic. He runs well. But he's like Shaq in a lot of ways because he's smart. If you slide him over to another position, he just rolls with it. I think that's a luxury that we've had for a long time with Shaq and now we've got a guy like JC that kind of does a lot of the same stuff."
The Panthers preseason opener in Chicago is set for Thursday, August 8 at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Channel 9 and will also stream for free on Panthers.com and the Panthers app within the team's regional market.
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