'Just to be careful' — Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly will be held out of Panthers' preseason opener

Shalise Manza Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor

The first full week of NFL preseason games is here, and with it, reports of which star players will and won’t be taking the field for exhibition No. 1.

Two of the first names in the “won’t play” column: Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly.

Ron Rivera: ‘It’s just to be careful’

On Tuesday, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera confirmed to media at the team’s training camp facility that neither Newton nor Kuechly will play on Thursday against the Chicago Bears.

Not this week: Carolina Panthers stars Luke Kuechly, left, and Cam Newton won't play in the team's preseason opener against Chicago. (Getty Images)

“It’s just to be careful,” Rivera said. “There are a lot of things we want to see from the young guys. By doing that we give [quarterback] 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.”

Allen, a second-year player who was undrafted out of Houston, will start against the Bears.

Rivera stressed that Newton sitting out this game is part of the plan the coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Scott Turner, Norv’s son and the Panthers’ quarterbacks coach, had developed for the now-30-year-old.

Newton underwent shoulder surgery in January and Rivera said last month that the quarterback’s snaps would be monitored in camp and the preseason.

“Everything we are doing with Cam has been mapped out and everything is fine. Norv and Scott have sat down and talked things over with [head athletic trainer] Ryan Vermillion,” Rivera said. “Again, we are just going through the next step in the process.”

‘My head is good’

Kuechly was involved in a “pileup” at practice last week and the Panthers have exercised caution with him since.

On Tuesday, both Rivera and Kuechly said the linebacker was not in concussion protocol; however, because Kuechly has dealt with multiple brain injuries in his NFL career, the team was exercising a (smart) abundance of caution. He has done individual drills in the days since but not full-team work.

“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.”

Linebacker Jermaine Carter, a fifth-round draft pick last year, will start in his place.

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