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Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots: Players to Watch on Offense

The third preseason game is arguably the most important as NFL teams typically will use it as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. These are three players to watch on the offensive side of the ball for the Carolina Panthers when they face the New England Patriots

Kelvin Benjamin

The Carolina Panthers star wide receiver continues to try and work his way back from an ACL injury but the team has limited his snaps this preseason. As Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer noted, Benjamin saw less than 10 snaps against the Tennessee Titans. However, Ron Rivera believes he will be able to play 30 to 35 snaps when the team opens the regular season against the Denver Broncos.

If the Panthers are going to significantly increase his workload, this would be the right game to do it. The first-team offense is most likely going to play the entire first half and possibly into the third quarter to help simulate when the Panthers need to make halftime adjustments.

It is also important to note that in limited snaps, Benjamin has looked very good. He caught two quick passes from Cam Newton on the first three plays against the Titans. It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff call different routes for their top wide receiver.

Jonathan Stewart

One area that the Panthers have struggled with this preseason has been the run game, which has less than 100 rushing yards combined in the first two preseason games.

In the first game, the team was without their featured running back, Jonathan Stewart, and only gained 38 rushing yards on 22 carries. The veteran running back did return against the Titans but the results weren't that much better with only 53 rushing yards on 17 carries.

The Panthers have been able to dominate on the ground the past few seasons, finishing second in rushing yards last year, and should try to establish the run in the game. The coaching staff not only needs to get Stewart some solid carries, they should also try and get second-year backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Brandon Wegher in some kind of rhythm.

Cam Newton

The Panthers' quarterback has been off to a fast start this preseason and he will look to end it on a high note. This will most likely be Cam Newton last chance to see meaningful playing time before he takes the field against the Denver Broncos and should be a good test for him.

This is an interesting season for Newton as he enters it with incredibly high expectations. He is coming off an MVP season, one that included 45 total touchdowns and him leading the highest scoring offense last regular season.

It doesn't appear that the weight of those expectations have hindered him too much to this point and he has completed 13 of 18 passes for 198 yards and one touchdown. This game against the Patriots is one that could see the Panthers opening the playbook a little more and see Newton take a few shots down the field.

Twitter @BrandonCroce

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