The Panthers are sounding less and less optimistic that Cam Newton will be ready for the team's regular season opener Sunday at Tampa Bay.
Coach Ron Rivera said he will make a game-time decision on Newton's availability after the fourth-year quarterback was limited in practice Thursday while recovering from fractured ribs.
Newton said he's "on pace" to play and Rivera agreed.
However, neither Newton nor Rivera sounded as optimistic about Newton's chances of playing as they did earlier in the week.
"We don't want to put a guy out there who can't protect himself or take a hit," Rivera said. "We want to be smart about it."
Given all the time that Newton missed in the preseason, this is not a good situation heading into Week 1 against an improved Tampa Bay defense. We'd absolutely start the two Thursday night quarterbacks over Newton given what we know now. Kelvin Benjamin doesn't look like a good start if Newton is out.