Each week in the Carolina Panthers’ 2017 season, CharlotteFive will be taking a quick look at the five things from the game you’ll want to talk about in the office on Monday morning.

We’ll leave the play-by-play breakdowns and analysis to the pros at the Observer.

Here are our five talking points from the Panthers’ preseason finale, a 17-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night:

(1) Preseason sucks

You and most of your friends probably skipped the fourth and final preseason game last night in favor of college football or “Beat Shazam” or something else meaningless, but thank goodness this was the last one that doesn’t count.

Of course, preseason does matter to the players who might be cut by 4 p.m. Saturday, as the 90-man roster is cut down to 53 for the regular season. Fozzy Whitaker, Cameron Artis-Payne, Damiere Byrd, Kaelin Clay … their seasons hung in the balance Thursday night.

But for most fans, it’s hard to get invested when the third- and fourth-stringers — the bubble players — play the majority of the game, and it’s always hard to say goodbye to some of the players who get cut.

(2) The result doesn’t matter, but come on

The Panthers led for the majority of the night, going ahead in the first quarter on a Whittaker TD and leading at half 14–10. But with two seconds to go in the game, Pittsburgh’s fourth-string QB Joshua Dobbs walked into the Panthers’ end zone to take a 17–14 lead. The result spoiled a good performance from the Carolina defense, which forced five consecutive three-and-outs in the second half.

The heavy rain from earlier in the day held off for the game itself, but for the brave Panthers fans who showed up and stuck around BofA until 10:30 p.m., it was a less-than-ideal finish. Carolina finished the preseason with a 2–2 record.

(3) The backup QBs are struggling

Cam Newton and most of the starters never saw the field Thursday night, even though Cam’s health is probably the biggest question heading into the season. And though he’s expected to play the season opener Sept. 10, if he can’t … well, the guys behind him had a rough August.

Derek Anderson has struggled this preseason, to say the least, and Joe Webb provides options but likely isn’t Rivera’s No. 2. No. 4 QB Garrett Gilbert is probably a practice squad player this season.

On Thursday, the trio combined for one touchdown and three interceptions and never looked impressive. If Newton can’t play all 16 games this season, the Panthers could be in serious trouble.

(4) Who impressed?

Fozzy Whittaker, fighting for a spot behind Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey, bulldozed in for that first quarter TD and had a good night overall. He likely earned his place, even with Cameron Artis-Payne having another good showing.

Linebacker David Mayo had an early interception, prompting mayonnaise gifs on social media.

Wide receivers Kaelin Clay and Damiere Byrd both had good (speedy) games, too, though it’s likely only one will make the cut. Clay had a 47-yard catch when he ran past the Steelers defense; Byrd had a touchdown.

(5) The regular season is coming

Thank God. The Panthers start their 2017 season on the road Sept. 10 in San Francisco and return to Charlotte for their first home game on the 17th against the Buffalo Bills.

Photo: Jeff Siner

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