CHARLOTTE – In a reversal of roles when it comes to the semi-annual matchup with Tampa Bay, quarterback Cam Newton is ready for action but his backup is not.
Derek Anderson has been ruled out for Sunday's season finale after missing practice and steering clear of Bank of America Stadium all week because of an undisclosed illness. Newton practiced fully for the first time Friday after taking it easy on his right shoulder earlier in the week.
"He's a little contagious, so that's why he stayed away," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Hopefully he'll be better, for his sake.
"Joe will be the backup, obviously, and we'll go from there."
Joe Webb will serve as Newton's backup. As for the "go from there" part of the equation, Rivera said wide receiver Philly Brown would serve as emergency quarterback and will get some snaps in Saturday's walkthrough.
"He loves it," Rivera said. "He can throw it."
Newton, tight end Greg Olsen (elbow) and running back Jonathan Stewart (foot) are listed as questionable, but Rivera said it's merely a formality to follow protocol regarding the injury report and that they all should play. Newton has missed three games in his six-year career, all three against Tampa Bay. In each instance, Anderson filled in for him.
In addition to Anderson's absence, defensive end Charles Johnson (foot) has been ruled out.
Rivera said that wide receiver Damiere Byrd, who was called up from the practice squad earlier in the week, will make his NFL debut against the Buccaneers.
"He'll get on the field," Rivera said. "He had a good preseason returning kickoffs and punts. We want to give him an opportunity. He's done a nice job. He's worked very hard for us.
"Everything we do is to win, but we also have some young guys that are going to play, and we're going to win with them."
The Panthers will wear a decal on their back of their helmets in memory of special teams coach Bruce DeHaven, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 68.