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Rivera on Cam Newton: 'I think he's ready' for opener

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After throwing just a pair of passes all preseason, Cam Newton is six days away from going wire to wire against the 49ers in Carolina's season opener.

The Panthers quarterback -- and his surgically repaired shoulder -- looms as one of a handful of raging X-factors heading into Week 1, but coach Ron Rivera believes Newton is up to the test.

"I think he's ready. I do," Rivera said, per the team's official site. "You wish he'd had a few more snaps and played a little bit earlier in the preseason so we'd have more to go on. But what we saw, we liked.

"We liked how everything seems to be meshing together as an offense and we'll see how it goes as we continue to work this week."

It's an uptick in confidence from six days ago, when Rivera said of Newton: "You really won't know until the opener. ... Nobody knew what he was going to be like his rookie year. That's kind of how this is going to be."

Beyond simply shaking off the rust, Newton has barely practiced with his teammates this offseason, missing important snaps with newfound rookie weapons Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Longtime teammate Greg Olsen, though, expects the signal-caller to lean on his six years of motor memory under center.

"This is going to be [Newton's] seventh year in the league," Olsen, the Pro Bowl tight end, said last week. "He's seen a lot of things. He has a lot of experience, and you just kind of count on guys' instincts kicking in."

Newton isn't alone. Baltimore is waiting to see how Joe Flacco responds after missing the entire preseason with a back issue, while the Colts are simply hoping for positive word on Andrew Luck's elongated pathway back to live action.

As for Newton, a full week of practice will help, but it's unfair to expect fireworks out of the gate. That said, Cam's surprised us before.

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