Aug 22, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers' Rivera 'confident' Cam Newton will start season opener

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Cam Newton suffered a hairline fracture in his ribs during Friday’s preseason game loss to the New England Patriots. While there was initially doubt that the Panthers’ star would play during the regular season, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera thinks they’ll have Newton week 1.

Asked if he had no doubt Newton would be ready for the Buccaneers, via ESPN.com, Rivera said, “I’m pretty confident. The true evaluation will come in about a week, so we’ll probably be looking at this Saturday for where he is and how he is.”

Rivera has kept a watchful eye on Newton and seems hopeful about his development.

“I saw him throw a couple of balls, I saw him catch a couple of balls, I saw him bend over and pick up [a couple of balls], so I imagine it is lessening,” Rivera said of Newton’s pain.

“This is exactly what the doctor told us. It’s just a matter of time. Get the stiffness out, the soreness out, and he’ll be all right.”

Rib injuries are brutal for a quarterback. They may not get his as often as everyone else on the field, but when they throw, they leave their ribs vulnerable to more contact. Due to the lack of contact, however, many quarterbacks have played with a fractured rib, including Tony Romo, Tom Brady and Michael Vick.

The caveat is that those players tended to keep the injury under wraps for as long as they could, so that opponents didn’t target their injury. Newton’s is common knowledge. Regardless, Newton is expected to open the season with his team.

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