- Associated Press - Thursday, September 4, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he’ll make a game-time decision on quarterback Cam Newton’s availability for Sunday’s regular season opener at Tampa Bay.

Newton, limited in practice Thursday while recovering from fractured ribs, says he’s “on pace” to play and Rivera agreed. However, neither Newton nor Rivera sounded as optimistic about the fourth-year quarterback’s chances to play as they did earlier in the week.

Newton talked about “not wanting to hurt the team” and Rivera emphasized the Panthers have to be careful because “the season is a marathon, not a sprint” and they don’t want to risk further injury.

Rivera wouldn’t say if the fourth-year quarterback threw any passes on Thursday only that “he did what we asked him to do.”

Derek Anderson would start if Newton can’t play.

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