CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Cam Newton is anxious to return to action as soon as possible, but the Panthers feel no anxiety over having to replace him with Derek Anderson for their Monday Night Football game against the Buccaneers.
Newton remains in the concussion protocol and has been ruled out for the game. Anderson will get his third start in his five-plus seasons with the Panthers. The previous two, in 2014, also were against Tampa Bay and resulted in victories.
"It's not just because of what DA has done against these guys – it's who DA is," head coach Ron Rivera said about his team's comfort level with Anderson under center. "He's a guy who has had success in the NFL, who has been a Pro Bowl player. He's won a lot of games and played in a lot of games.
"Our guys just have a lot of confidence in who he is. He's a guy who fits what we do."
Rivera described Newton as "antsy" to return. Four other Panthers will have to wait at least another week as well. Running back Jonathan Stewart (hamstring), left tackle Michael Oher (concussion protocol) and defensive tackle Vernon Butler (ankle) will be out again, and cornerback James Bradberry is out after suffering a toe injury last week against Atlanta.
With Bradberry out and Bene Benwikere no longer on the team, Rivera said rookie Daryl Worley and veteran Robert McClain would start on the outside. When the Panthers are in nickel – as they often are – McClain is expected to move there, with Teddy Williams or rookie Zack Sanchez replacing him on the outside.
"We have a lot of confidence in what we've got," Rivera said.
Rivera also sounded confident about linebacker Thomas Davis (hamstring), defensive end Charles Johnson (quad) and fullback Mike Tolbert (hamstring) playing. All three are listed as questionable but fully participated in Saturday's indoor practice.
Rivera feels "pretty comfortable" about the possibility of Stewart returning next week. That term also applies for this week despite all the key cogs out of action.
"We're going to do what we do and play who we play. We've done this before. We've been through this," he said. "I expect our guys to come out and play, play with energy and play to their abilities. We have a lot of faith in the guys who are replacing the guys who aren't playing. That's the nature of what we do, that next-man-up mentality."
The Panthers also made a roster move Saturday, reinstating veteran guard Chris Scott from the exempt/commissioner's permission list and waiving guard Tyler Larsen. Scott was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing substances, and the Panthers were given a one-week roster exemption in order to decide whether to add Scott back to the 53-man roster.
View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against Tampa Bay.