The depth chart at quarterback included "fluidity," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin maintained, heading into Friday night's preseason finale.
But quarterback Dwayne Haskins was unable to take advantage.
Listed No. 3 at the position behind Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph, Haskins started the Steelers' fourth and final preseason game at Carolina and played with and against first-team players for the first time.
His first two quarters of work produced zero points, zero third-down conversions (0-for-4) and one turnover in what eventually became a 34-9 loss at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The Steelers fell to 3-1 on the preseason.
They open the regular season on Sept. 12 at Buffalo.
Rosters must be reduced from 80 to 53 by 4 p.m. on Aug. 31.
The first two possessions directed by Haskins resulted in three-and-outs.
Game action photos from the Week 3 preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium
The third ended on a first-snap turnover when Haskins tried to hit fullback Derek Watt on a play-action/bootleg pass in the right flat in the first quarter's final minute. The pass was thrown behind Watt, who reached back one-handed and deflected the ball up. It was eventually intercepted by defensive end Brian Burns and returned 2 yards to the Steelers' 25-yard line.
Haskins' first two quarters of work resulted in a 3-for-9 performance passing, for 24 yards, with one interception and a passer rating of 2.8. He also rushed three times for 6 yards.
Haskins was given the first series to start the third quarter.
The Steelers trailed 24-0 by then after the Panthers went 76 yards on five plays in 2:40 to open the second half.
The possession ended on a three-and-out.
Haskins wasn't the only player with designs on securing a roster spot or an expanded role who struggled.
Veteran running back Benny Snell carried six times for 24 yards in the first half in his preseason debut. Snell had a long run of 17 but his other five carries gained a combined 7 yards.
First-year wide receiver Mathew Sexton muffed a punt that resulted in the Panthers gaining possession at the Steelers' 15 with 9:01 left in the second quarter.
And rookie safety Tre Norwood, playing slot-cornerback for the first time this preseason, was unable to get to a wide receiver-screen on what became a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Darnold to wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. two plays after the Sexton muff. Kicker Ryan Santoso's extra point gave Carolina a 10-0 lead with 8:24 left in the second.
Norwood had dropped an interception while playing free safety on third-and-2 from the Panthers' 38 just prior to the muffed punt.
Carolina opened the scoring with 43 seconds left in the opening quarter on a 52-yard field goal by Santoso at the end of a seven-play, 31-yard drive in 4:05.
The Panthers achieved the 17-0 lead they took to the locker room at halftime on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Darnold to wide receiver Robbie Anderson and a Santoso conversion 24 seconds before the break.
Josh Dobbs relieved Haskins at quarterback on the Steelers' second possession of the second half.
He directed a 10-play, 50-yard drive in 5:19 that finally got the Steelers on the scoreboard thanks to a 52-yard field goal by kicker Chris Boswell with 1:38 left in the third. Dobbs' 12-yard scramble on third-and-8 from the Steelers' 46 extended the possession and registered the Steelers' first third-down conversion on the night.
Sexton bobbled the ball on a punt return but maintained possession at the Steelers' 15 with 6:57 left in the third.
The Panthers scored the touchdown that produced a 31-3 lead on a 24-yard run by quarterback Will Grier with 11:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Haskins came back into the game with 7:52 remaining following a punt (Dobbs had spent some time on the sideline in the injury tent during the Panthers' previous possession and headed to the locker room shortly thereafter).
A fumble by running back Tony Brooks-James on Haskins' second snap following his re-entry resulted in a Carolina recovery at the Steelers' 27.
The Panthers turned the turnover, the Steelers' third of the night, into a 27-yard field goal by Santoso with 3:22 left.
Haskins responded by going 5-for-5 passing for 75 yards on a six-play, 75-yard drive in 2:25 for the Steelers' first touchdown, a 22-yard pass to wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud.
Boswell's extra point was no good.