- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

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.

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