"I'm optimistic," Rivera said. "I expect him to be there, and we'll see how it all unfolds."
Newton suffered a hairline rib fracture in Carolina's Aug. 22 preseason game and did not play in the preseason finale.
Rivera also said Newton had been wearing a flak jacket in practice this week and would wear it during the game.
The Panthers open the season on the road against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
- Dan Gartland