The battle for backup quarterback takes the spotlight in Panthers' final preseason showcase
The Carolina Panthers hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in Charlotte on Thursday for the final game of the 2019 preseason. Panthers players on the bubble got a last opportunity to impress coaches. During the 25-19 Panthers victory that left the team with a .500 record for testing phase of 2019, there were several players like running back Reggie Bonnafon, wideout Deandrew White and place kicker Joey Slye that made their presence felt. The battle for second position among signal callers, however, drew the most attention.
Carolina's Kyle Allen solidified why he's the best for the number two spot at quarterback behind Cam Newton who was not on the sideline for Thursday night's game. Newton, according to head coach Ron Rivera was sent home for his own protection from getting too animated on the sidelines and possibly re-injuring himself.
Allen, who looked to shake off a poor performance against New England last week, piloted only one drive, going 4-6 for 41 yards with improved pocket presence and good command of the offense. Allen even turned a possible loss into a 13-yard run for a first down.
Rookie quarterback Will Grier made good use of his time on the field going 11-18 for 189 yards and a 34-yard touchdown to pass to Aldrick Robinson. Grier did have a couple of miscues that ended badly. A strip-sack of Grier by linebacker Jayrone Elliott resulted in an 88-yard return for a touchdown. But it wasn't enough to cause much concern for head coach Ron Rivera. "He didn't anticipate the conversion so he threw it and ended up getting it intercepted ...and that was dissappointing," Rivera said. "But he made some really good throws today."
Last season's primary backup Taylor Heinicke went 7-10 passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Heineke also completed a 2-point conversion pass to help push the Panthers past the Steelers. However, it wasn't enough to land him a spot on the regular roster for the 2019 season.
Across the field Josh Dobbs, who can make plays beyond the pocket, struggled with his accuaracy while Mason Rudolph went 7-11 for 125 yards and clearly outshined his in-house competition.
Cam Newton is the projected starter for the Sept. 8 season opener when the Panthers host the Rams.