Panthers wrap up preseason

The Panthers have been preseason predators under John Fox, going 18-9 in August tilts under his tutelage. Two of those losses have come in the previous three preseasons at the hands of Thursday's opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Preseason results don't translate into regular season success, but they can expose problems that coaches need to fix before September 7 rolls around. Unfortunately for the Panthers, this preseason hasn't exactly done that for John Fox. His starters have outscored opponents' starters by a whopping 58-3 margin in the first three games. While that is better than getting outscored 58-3, it also makes those "we need to do better" speeches a tougher sell on the Bank of America Stadium practice fields.

The goal at Pittsburgh will be to get through this last dress rehearsal without further injuries, so don't expect the 58-3 trend to continue.

Look for the following games within the game, however …

* The return game looked solid versus Washington, as did the coverage units and everything else in blue, black and silver. Can special teams continue that trend?

* DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have nothing left to prove this preseason. But the battle for the last few RB spots is another matter. Who will make the most compelling argument to keep his job?

* Brett Basanez has to show he's worthy of a roster spot. Matt Moore hasn't been stellar this month, but he finished strongly as a starter last year and has a much longer rope than does Basanez. With kicker Rhys Lloyd probably claiming one of those precious 53 lockers in the locker room, Basanez's number three QB slot could be in jeopardy, Alex.

* The offensive and defensive lines have been impressive. Who will claim the final spots in these two highly competitive areas?

* Can the Panthers unlock the mystery of the Keystone State? Carolina is 2-4 there in the preseason and 1-5 during the regular season. They did win at Pittsburgh two preseasons ago.

Overall, the best part about Thursday's game for the Panthers will be the flight home. They'll have 10 days to re-charge for the Chargers, as they open at San Diego. Don't look for the same lights out performance they put on last week. Just look for the last remaining roster spots to be claimed .

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