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Rookie passers to start, sit

The big story of story of the 2011 draft was the unexpected haul of first-round rookie quarterbacks – five in all. But things will unfold differently for the group, based on their preseason performance and roster situations with their respective teams. A quick look:

* Cam Newton, the Panthers’ first overall pick, has won the job over incumbent Jimmy Clausen and veteran journeyman Derek Anderson. ThePanthers can’t get much worse than last year, when they went 2-14, so they want to get Newton up and running ASAP. 

* Blaine Gabbert, the former Missouri star taken by the Jaguars, won’t supplant David Garrard just yet. It’s Garrard who goes into the season as the starter, with Gabbert expected to be the No. 3 quarterback behind Luke McCown.

* Andy Dalton was drafted as the heir apparent to Carson Palmer in Cincinnati,and he’ll be the Day 1 starter this year. He had a rocky preseason, and it may not get much easier in the regular season, but the Bengals are willing to be patient. 

* Jake Locker is the Titans’ quarterback of the future, but he’ll have to wait his turn behind Matt Hasselbeck, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent after Seattle let him go.

* Christian Ponder went to the Vikings, but he’ll get to learn behind veteran Donovan McNabb. Ponder’s play time will almost certainly depend on McNabb; if the former Eagles and Redskins quarterback plays well, Ponder will sit until next year and perhaps beyond. If McNabb struggles, then Ponder gets the look-see sometime this season

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