Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said Thursday that he's still not 100 percent, but is "on pace" to play in Sunday's opener.
Newton is recovering from sustaining a hairline fracture to his rib on Aug. 22.
When asked if he will play Sunday, Newton said, "Well, that's my thinking ... Hopefully, when that clock starts, I'll be on that field."
The quarterback said his cracked ribs make it "hard to sleep" and breathe, and that sometimes throwing the football is manageable, while other times it's not.
"I'm taking the proper steps to make it to Sunday," said Newton, according to Person. "I'm not about to play this game and mimic someone's game style. I'm going to try to win football games. If it takes for me to scramble that's what I'm going to do. If it takes me throwing the ball away, that's what I'm going to do."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera agreed that his quarterback is on pace to play in the opener. Newton, who said he's never missed a game at any level, said he won't put the team at risk by playing before he's ready.
Carolina opens in Tampa Bay on Sunday. Derek Anderson is listed as Newton's backup on a team that has a new receiving corps, including rookie Kelvin Benjamin.
- Molly Geary