Rivera: This has been tough on Cam

CHARLOTTE – Everyone wants to know what the Panthers are going to do with Cam Newton, especially after the star quarterback was ineffective against New Orleans and afterward opened up out about his struggles with a consistently sore throwing shoulder.

At this point, it's business as usual for head coach Ron Rivera.

When he met with the media Tuesday, he hadn't yet spoken to the medical staff or Newton. So there wasn't much in the way of an update entering Week 16.

"We'll wait till we have those conversations and see where we are," Rivera said. "Until I get a chance to visit with (Cam), I am not going to speculate."

It's not unreasonable to ask if starting the banged-up Newton at quarterback gives the Panthers the best chance to win with two games left.

Rivera was asked that very question and provided this response: "Well, I believe in Cam. So we'll just leave it at that."

Newton has been pained by all of this. The soreness is one thing. The losing streak is another. And Rivera knows Newton's first instinct is to do what he's always done: battle through.

"This has been tough on him," Rivera said. "Knowing him, he puts a lot of responsibility on himself. We'll get an opportunity to visit and talk and see where he is mentally."

Newton and Rivera on the sideline