CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Cam Newton suffered a hairline fracture of one of his ribs during Friday's loss to the Patriots, and he will not play in the preseason finale on Thursday at the Steelers.
Head coach Ron Rivera is optimistic Newton will be ready for the regular season opener against Tampa Bay on September 7.
"This morning he came in and he was very, very sore," Rivera said. "I do (think Newton will be ready for Week 1). He's got to get past the soreness, which we expect. Then we'll see how he starts to progress."
The injury occurred late in the second quarter when Newton scrambled and took a hit from New England linebacker Jamie Collins, whose knee came down on Newton's back.
"The way the flak jacket sits, that was the only crease that wasn't protected," Rivera said. "Wouldn't you know it, that's the one spot he got hit. They asked where he got hit, and he pointed right between the two shells. It's crazy how that happened, but that's what happened."
Last week, Newton was asked about sliding more this season than he had in the past because of offseason ankle surgery. He responded that he's not a sliding-type of guy and gets down the best way he knows how.
This rib injury is a reminder of how important it is for Newton to properly protect himself.
"One of the things he is going to have to understand is either dump it or slide," Rivera said.
Newton was expected to start against the Steelers, but now the Panthers quarterback situation is very much up in the air.
The wife of backup Derek Anderson is expected to give birth any day, and Matt Blanchard suffered a concussion against the Patriots.
Rivera said Joe Webb's chances of making the team have increased as a result of Newton's injury, and Webb could be in line for significant playing time Thursday.