We have our first game-time decision of the year, but this one has become more than just gamesmanship.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton practiced today for the first time this week, and the team has listed him as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.
Newton is still sore from a hairline fractire of a rib he suffered during Week Three of the preseason against the Patriots. That kept him out of the preseason finale, and practice the last two days.
Today’s performance looks like an effort to gauge his pain, and see if he’ll be able to go Sunday.
But Panthers coach Ron Rivera cautioned reporters that he’s still taking the long-term interests of the team in consideration.
“Some things we can’t measure, like how he reacts if/when he gets hit,” Rivera said, via Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer.
The Panthers have a measure of confidence in backup Derek Anderson, and Newton clearly isn’t 100 percent (from the rib injury or offseason ankle surgery). So Rivera seems to be weighing whether a week off now will buy him a healthier Newton later in the season, or whether the risk of putting a sore quarterback out there now is worth it.