Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Speaking to reporters following Wednesday's practice, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton expressed certainty that his fractured rib won't prevent him from starting the team's regular-season opener in less than two weeks.
Newton is dealing with a hairline fracture he sustained while absorbing a hit from New England linebacker Jamie Collins during the Panthers' preseason game against the Patriots last Friday. He told the media that the pain in his ribs is subsiding and "there's no doubt" he'll be ready when Carolina travels to Tampa Bay for the Sept. 7 opener.
"My body feels better. It's been a great process," Newton said. "There was soreness like any other injury. It's obvious that my ribs were hurting, but I'm moving forward and trying to stay positive and optimistic about this whole process."
Newton is also still recovering from offseason ankle surgery that limited his practice reps early in training camp.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera also was optimistic that Newton would start against the Buccaneers and said he does not expect the offensive game plan to change due to his star quarterback's injury.
Newton led all NFL quarterbacks in rushing attempts (111) and yards (585) during Carolina's run to the 2013 NFC South title, while setting career bests with 24 touchdown passes and a 61.7 percent completion rate.