Cam Newton ready to ease back into game action

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The Panthers held Cam Newton back last week to make sure he could protect himself, but they’re going to expose him to the elements gradually this week.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said there wouldn’t be any planned running around for Newton Sunday night against Kansas City, in hopes he doesn’t aggravate his surgically repaired ankle.

He can’t help himself because he loves to compete and he wants to win,” Rivera said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “That is one of the things that is of concern – that he’ll get out there and he may see something, he may go from a three to a seven [in effort level] and the next thing you know he’s out there doing his thing. That’s just who he is. He’s very competitive.”

Newton said he’s still not quite 100 percent, but he said he’s confident he can play.

“The thing that keeps coming back up is, ‘Keep treating it. Treat it when it feels good, treat it when it feels bad. Don’t be that guy that only treats it when it’s nagging. Try to stay ahead of the pain,’ ” Newton said. “That’s what I’ve been doing, and it’s been paying off. . . .

“Each day it’s been getting better and better for me. At this point we don’t want to have any mishaps in the treatment process.”

Taking care of their quarterback is the first priorirty. But with so many questions about a rebuilt offense, the Panthers are putting a lot of faith in Newton being himself come the regular season, and Sunday night will be their first tangible evidence.