Predicting the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year in the AFC South

Ross Houston
August 10, 2017

Newton did some light throwing Monday and again Tuesday, but Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said Tuesday the 28-year-old won't play against the visiting Houston Texans.

J.J. Watt was injured the vast majority of the 2016 season, leaving behind AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year-sized-shoes to fill.

While fans geared up at Academy Sports + Outdoors, much of the buzz surrounded the quarterback situation for the Texans. If Newton's injury lingers longer than expected and he doesn't play week one (GASP!), then Anderson will be driving the bus.

And the Texans boast their owner version of McCaffrey - Tyler Ervin is an explosive play-maker who will line up all over the field.

But as neat as all that might be, playing in an National Football League game for the first time - albeit a preseason game - will trump that.

The Carolina Panthers will kick off the preseason on Wednesday without Cam Newton. Brock Osweiler struggled out of the gate, and Houston sent him to the Cleveland Browns in the offseason.

The Texans were bad on the offensive side of the ball last season, particularly at quarterback.

In this year's draft, the Texans traded their 2017 first-round pick (No. 25) and 2018 first-rounder to Cleveland to move up to No. 12. The Panthers won't want to tip their hand as to how he'll be used in the regular season. After he threw for the first four days of training camp, the Panthers shut down Newton when he had soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Here are a few things to watch for Wednesday night.

Carolina chose to focus more on offense than defense over the offseason.

Neither looked nervous in his preseason debut as the Panthers opened with a 27-17 victory over the Texans. So if Newton plays vs. Houston, it might be to simply hand off. Now, you will finally get to see what they are made of.

Newton, who had surgery in March to fix a partially torn rotator cuff, hasn't thrown in practice for nine days, so the Panthers holding him out of Wednesday's game was expected.

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