Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Thursday that he "probably" expects quarterback Cam Newton to start in Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, barring any setbacks.
Rivera added that Newton participated in every drill in practice on Thursday after being held out of a couple the previous day.
Newton was involved in a car accident on Dec. 9 in Charlotte and was diagnosed with two transverse process fractures in his lower back. He did not play in Carolina’s 19-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Derek Anderson started that game and threw for 277 yards and one touchdown.
Newton took the practice field on Wednesday just eight days after the accident and got the majority of the first-team reps during practice on Thursday.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera has said the training staff put Newton through a "rigorous" rehab schedule to prepare him just in case he is cleared to play.
Carolina (5-8-1) is half-game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South with two games remaining in the regular season.
Newton, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft, is in his fourth season with team. He has passed for 2,812 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while adding 425 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
- Scooby Axson and Chris Johnson