Newton questionable for season opener

CHARLOTTE – Cam Newton was a full participant in Friday's practice and the quarterback is listed as questionable for the regular season opener against Tampa Bay.

"Cam took all his reps today. He did throw. It was a good sign." head coach Ron Rivera said. "I feel better. He took the next step."

But has Newton, who has been battling soreness in his ribs, done enough to start Sunday?

Rivera will review Newton's progress before he makes that decision. A final call could come on Saturday or game day.

"I'm going to listen to what I'm told," Rivera said. "I'm going to listen to the young man. I'm going to listen to the coaches, and then I'll make the decision off that. It's got to be in the best interests of his health and this football team.

"We are going to evaluate him and watch the tape to see how he looked to make sure he is technically and fundamentally sound – that he's not favoring anything either. That's the other thing we have to be smart about."

LINEUP DECISIONS: Rivera revealed a few lineup decisions for Sunday's matchup.

Roman Harper will start at strong safety, and rookie Bene Benwikere will get the nod at nickel cornerback. Cornerback Charles Godfrey – a converted safety who competed for the nickel role – will backup both spots.

"We are going to start out with Roman (at strong safety), knowing again that he hasn't played a lot in the preseason," Rivera said. "If we do spell him, it's going to be Charles Godfrey."

The coaching staff has not yet decided if Chase Blackburn or A.J. Klein will be the third starting linebacker, but Rivera said ideally both will play.

"That's a discussion we are having right now," Rivera said. "If there are 60 plays, one is going to hopefully get around 30, the other one is hopefully going to get around 30."

Rookie Trai Turner will play Sunday, but Fernando Velasco will see plenty of action at that right guard spot as well.

"The thing about Trai we have to be careful of – this is really the first week of work he's had in the last two and a half," Rivera said. "That's a concern because of the conditioning aspect. You don't want to throw him out there and have a relapse and lose him for the next three or four weeks."

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