An MRI exam yesterday revealed a hairline fracture in one of Panthers QB Cam Newton's ribs, putting him out next weeks' final preseason tune-up, and putting his availability for the start of the regular season in question.
Coach Ron Rivera said he expects Newton to be ready for Week 1, but it'll be a matter of pain management more than anything else.
"I do" expect he'll play, Rivera said. "But he has to get past the soreness. Then we will see how he starts to progress. He's pretty sore and he's hurting right now. It is of concern."
Newton was injured late in the second quarter in Friday's game against New England, at the end scramble that saw him take a knee in the lower back from LB Jamie Collins in an awkward half-tackle, half-bellyflop. He was wearing a flak jacket, but Newton said Collins's knee got him in between two pieces of padding.
Just the week before, Newton had said "I'm not a sliding type of guy." This despite the Panthers wanting to keep him out of trouble as he recovers from offseason surgery on his ankle ligaments. Ron Rivera sounded more than a little upset that Newton had tried to extend this fateful play, or at least not passed to a wide-open DeAngelo Williams.
Said Rivera: "He had a chance to make a play on it, he chose to tuck it and run, and one of the things he's going to have to learn is either dump it or slide."
Since he entered the league, not only has Newton been hit more times than any other QB. He's been hit twice as many times as any other QB:
It looks like it's going to be a rough year for the Panthers. Newton, in limited preseason time, hasn't looked himself after his surgery, especially when running. He shouldn't expect much help. Carolina's O-line projects to be one of the worst in football, and no one really knows what to expect from a new-look receiving corps.
Behind Newton, the Panthers have Derek Anderson and are expected to carry Joe Webb as their No. 3 QB.