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Cam Newton status remains unclear ahead of Week 16

The Panthers have yet to put a hard timetable in place for Cam Newton.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicated to reporters Monday that Carolina is still feeling the situation out after Newton sustained two fractures in his lower back in a car accident last week. Rivera said the decision will come down to a coaching decision on whether Newton puts himself at risk of a setback by taking the field against the Browns in Week 16.

"I don't want to put a guy out there that can't protect himself," Rivera said Monday, according to the Charlotte Observer. "By that it's being able to run out of the way, scramble out of the way, stay alive, keep the play alive by being able to get away. That's all part of it. That's all part of the decision that went into the first Tampa Bay game."

Rivera is referring to Week 1, when the Panthers kept Newton on the sidelines with a cracked rib. Derek Anderson started and won that game, then beat the Bucs a second time on Sunday. The win moved the 5-8-1 Panthers into first place in the NFC South with two games to play. The Saints can move back ahead in the division with a win on Monday against the Bears.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Panthers are optimistic Newton will play next Sunday.

On Monday, Rivera dismissed the notion that the Panthers would shut down Newton if Carolina was eliminated from contention after Week 16.

"We're not giving anything up, win or lose."

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