CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Cam Newton is spending every waking minute trying to reach full health.
When Newton wakes up Sunday, he doesn't want to hear a single word about his health.
"If I'm thinking about a particular injury, then I'm already to step behind," said Newton, who said he will absolutely start Sunday when the Detroit Lions visit Bank of America Stadium. "My main focus is to have confidence in myself so that I'm able to be myself when I'm out there."
The Panthers didn't think Newton, who is recovering from offseason ankle surgery and a preseason rib injury, had healed enough to be himself – or protect himself – in last Sunday's season opener at Tampa Bay.
So with Newton watching from the sideline - an "eye-opening experience," he said – the Panthers turned to backup Derek Anderson and came away with a 20-14 victory.
Newton, after fully participating in practice Wednesday, appears ready to start another consecutive games streak. Prior to last Sunday, he had never sat out an NFL game – or college game, or high school game.
"He had a really nice day at practice, did some really good things," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Wednesday and Thursday (of last week), he had a little setback and wasn't as spry as I had hoped he would be. Friday, he came out and practiced very well, but in talking to the doctors, I was not convinced that the best thing to do was play him, so I decided to sit him. We went with Derek Anderson, and Derek played a very good football game, did some really good things.
"Come Monday, Cam had a really good workout. Then Tuesday he came in on his own, and today he had a good, solid workout."
Newton continues to receive treatment daily for his injuries, but the most important part of his day Wednesday was the time he got on the practice field.
"My main focus is still trying to get on the same page with all my receivers so that come game time, everything will be running smooth," Newton said. "You have to get in a groove and understand where guys are going to be. It's about trying to get in rhythm with how each guy is going to run their route.
"We look forward to the challenge of trying to have the offense executing on all cylinders come Sunday. We still have to get better, but we had an unbelievable practice today."
Newton said he's trying to get to 100 percent so that he "won't be thinking about anything body-related" come game time.
Not only does Newton not want Sunday to be about his health; he doesn't want it to be about him, period.
"This isn't all about, 'How is Cam feeling?' " Newton said. "This game is about the Carolina Panthers, not about my health. Because when it comes down to it, the best team will win - not the best player because there are great players on both sides of the football.
"My thing is to just execute the given play, execute the game plan to the best of my ability."