As the early slate of Sunday's week 1 action kicked off, news of injured Panthers' QB Cam Newton's week 1 status began to trickle out of Tampa Bay, where Carolina opens their 2014 season against their divisional rivals, the Buccaneers.
Newton, according to multiple media outlets including Fox, NFL Network and ESPN, is looking unlikely to play this afternoon. Newton is expected to take part in warm-ups ahead of the 3:25 CT kickoff, but is not expected to play as the Panthers' staff does not want to expose their quarterback to further risk. Newton, who is dealing with fractured ribs and lingering effects of offseason ankle surgery, is not at 100 percent, despite declaring "no doubt" over his week 1 status just days ago.
However, coach Ron Rivera hinted that his signal caller would likely be a game-time decision earlier this week, and as of late this morning it appears that the 2011 offensive rookie of the year will not be available for his team's opening matchup. Cam Newton is not expected to play today.
Derek Anderson will likely make the start in Newton's stead, and the Panthers are likely to focus on a ground attack featuring veteran runners DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
If Newton, who plans to wear a flak jacket upon his return, were to take another heavy shot to the injured area, the team fears he could be shelved longer than just a week or two. By sitting him today, the Panthers are more likely to have a healed Newton under center as early as next week, as rest is normally the best recipe for recovery in regards to rib injuries.
Newton was injured in an August preseason game at New England. We will provide an update on his status closer to game time.
*Update*- Cam Newton is inactive and will not play today vs. Tampa Bay. Derek Anderson will start, as expected.