- Associated Press - Friday, August 22, 2014

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Carolina coach Ron Rivera wasn’t sure how long his offensive starters would play in the final preseason game next week until he saw them against New England on Friday night.

It took Rivera all of five series to realize that star quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers first-team offense need more time to jell.

Newton was sacked three times, and left briefly with a back injury, and the starting offense sputtered throughout the first half of a 30-7 loss the Patriots.

“To me, it was very evident that we’ve got to get them out there, we’ve got to get our quarterback out on the field and he’s got to get some timing with those guys,” said Rivera. “He missed a couple throws, missed some guys that were open that he overthrew. He’s just got to continue to work with them, and the more snaps he gets the better.”

Newton was 8 for 12 for 88 yards, and all five of his possessions ended in punts.

Rivera would like to limit Newton’s running, despite his skill, and one dash Friday appeared to stun him when he was tackled after running 7 yards.

Trainers tended to him on the field and he was replaced by Derek Anderson before returning after one play.

X-rays were negative and the team called the injury a back contusion.

“He got the wind knocked out of him, and he is sore, but there is nothing there. There really isn’t,” Rivera said. “He’s pretty sore. But there’s nothing other than he took a really good shot.”

Rivera was more concerned with a lack of consistency than he was Newton’s health.

“We had opportunities to make some plays, we didn’t make the plays. We make a block, we miss a block. We complete a pass, we miss a pass. An opportunity to stop a team on third down and we don’t do that,” he said. “So there was no consistency in the way we played.

“If we expect to be a playoff team, we need to be consistent.”

Tom Brady threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 60-yard field goal for the Patriots.

The third preseason game for both teams was no contest as the Patriots outgained the Panthers 405-271.

Brady led the Patriots (2-1) to scores on three of his five series and completed 17 of 21 passes. Both Brady and Newton left after their first series of the third quarter.

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