NASHVILLE -- Cam Newton isn't out of the woods, but he's continuing to inch toward a better place.
Shortly after the Panthers quarterback watched his teammates drop a 34-27 preseason contest to the Titans, head coach Ron Rivera on Saturday sounded as optimistic about his most important player as he has in nearly three weeks.
"He's on target," Rivera said. "We're happy with it. His workouts really have been good.
"Everything is trending up."
Concerns about Newton's regular-season availability ramped up when his return from offseason shoulder surgery was suddenly shut down on July 30. But he returned to team drills last Sunday and team trainers slowly increased his reps this week.
Newton's absence against the Titans was expected, and if all goes well over the next few days, the hope is he'll make his preseason debut against the Jaguars.
"He had a real good week this week – really pleased with it," Rivera said. "We'll increase his throws and then make a decision with what's going to happen Thursday night in Jacksonville."