CHARLOTTE – If you're a fan of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, you'll be happy to hear what Ron Rivera said after Tuesday's practice.
When asked if he had any doubt about Newton for Week 1, here's how the head coach responded:
"No, there is no doubt in my mind," Rivera said. "He's done exactly what he's needed to. We're at the point now where it's just a matter of time once we start our prep for the Rams that he's back on the field."
Newton, who is still recovering a left midfoot sprain, went through pretty much the same practice routine as yesterday, although Rivera said the workload increased slightly.
"He threw again. He got a nice little workout in with (head athletic trainer) RV on the side and then was out for the rest of practice," Rivera said. "He's made good strides and we're pretty excited about it, because we'll have a couple extra days to get ready for the Rams."
Questions at kicker
Kicker Graham Gano hasn't kicked yet this preseason. He might not kick at all.
"We're still kind of waiting for a final decision," Rivera said.
Gano has been dealing with a leg issue, which opened the door for rookie Joey Slye to impress. Slye is 6-for-6 and has made all his point-after attempts.
"He's been terrific and he's working hard, he really is. It's just the inexperience portion of it," Rivera said of Slye. "It's an interesting set of circumstances we're in right now."
Go time for Butler
Defensive tackle Vernon Butler has been battling back from a quad injury, but he is set to play Thursday against the Steelers.
The former first-round pick hasn't had the impact that was expected through his first three seasons and the Panthers opted not to pick up his fifth-year option this offseason.
So Butler clearly has a lot to prove on 2019.
"He's done a lot of good things. We're excited to watch him," Rivera said. "This is go time. This really is an important time of his career knowing he's going into the last year of his contract. He knows that. He's very aware of that."