The Carolina Panthers are planning for their Sept. 7 opener at Tampa Bay as if quarterback Cam Newton will start.
Newton suffered a hairline fracture in a rib during the second quarter of Friday night's exhibition loss at New England. He will not play in Thursday night's preseason finale at Pittsburgh, but he is attending every meeting and watching every snap at practice.
While Newton is not physically involved, he has been mentally since the team began putting the Tampa Bay game plan in on Sunday.
"Very, very," coach Ron Rivera said on Monday. "He's with the coordinator, he's with the quarterback coach and they're talking about what we're looking at and why we're looking at it. So Cam's getting a feel for Tampa Bay right now."
It's a good sign as teams would sometimes rather prepare without a player. Newton will likely be limited if he does play, which could mean more touches for the RBs. He was just unleashed to start running again in camp due to his ankle, but then suffered the hairline rib injury in preseason Week 3. We'll continue to update you on Newton in the days leading up to Week 1 but so far it looks like he's got a good chance to play.