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Cam Newton says he'll be ready to play in Week 1

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cam Newton expects to be ready for the Panthers Sept. 7 regular season opener against Tampa Bay.

''There's no doubt in my mind.,'' Newton said Wednesday. ''I'm going to worry about things that I can control and come in and get in as much treatment as possible so that my body will be 100 percent.''

Carolina's fourth-year quarterback is recovering from a hairline fracture to what he described as multiple ribs, but is improving with each day. Newton was injured in Carolina's preseason game Friday night against New England and hasn't practiced since.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera also said he expects Newton to be ready for the Bucs.

''For sure. I do,'' Rivera said. ''I'm optimistic, but I believe in him. I'm watching him progress and get better.''

Rivera said it's all about getting the soreness to subside.

Newton, who said he feels great, was well enough to travel with the team to Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon but will not play against the Steelers Thursday night in the preseason finale.

In the meantime, he will receive treatment while the equipment staff works to alter his flak jacket so it better protects the ribs moving forward.

Rivera called Newton's injury a bit of fluke, saying that he got hit in the one crease in his protection where the ribs weren't completely protected.

When asked if it was just one rib he injured, Newton replied, ''Ribs, not rib.''

The Panthers will reevaluate Newton this weekend. They have a light walkthrough on Saturday, but essentially they won't practice again in pads until Monday. It's unclear when Newton will start throwing again.

During Wednesday's practice, Newton donned a pair of shoulder pads, but took them off a few minutes later.

''I wanted to do something I have done at least one time a week - and that's put my pads on,'' Newton said. ''It's a superstition thing.''

It's unclear if Newton will change his style of play following the injury.

He was hurt when he went headfirst - instead of sliding - and got stepped on.

''I am who I am and things do happen,'' said Newton, who has run for 2,032 yards and 28 touchdowns in three seasons. ''One thing playing this game, you will get hurt sooner or later. ... You know something is going to happen. It's a physical sport and needs to be played that way.''

When asked if he considering sliding more, Newton said, ''I guess we will all just have to stay tuned and see.''

Rivera said he's not going to chide Newton for his instinctual decisions on the field.

''Should he slide? Yeah, I would like to see him slide,'' Rivera said. ''But at the same time I want him to play the way he plays best. ... I just tell him to be careful and be smart. I don't want to take away who he is as a football player.''

Rivera said Newton's injury will not affect how the Panthers game plan for the Buccaneers. He said they'll continue to use the read option, which involves Newton potentially running the football.

''We are going to do what we do,'' Rivera said.


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