On Monday, he made sure there was absolutely no confusion: Newton is sore, but he will play Sunday against the 49ers.
"The only thing I'll say is he's sore in terms of playing-the-game sore," Rivera said Monday, via ESPN.com. "Not anything else sore.
"He's tough, he's resilient. He's moving around pretty good today."
Newton's game on Thursday was subject to much debate over the following days. The NFL issued a statement clearing the Panthers' medical staff of any wrongdoing, noting that Newton, who absorbed a handful of helmet-to-helmet blows at the hands of Denver's defense, showed no "indications of a concussion.". However, the NFL announced Sunday it has initiated a review of the medical team's response to a late-game hit on Newton by Broncos safety Darian Stewart that sent the reigning NFL MVP hard to the ground.
Rivera and some of Newton's teammates noted that Newton is often on the receiving end of unfair treatment by officials. Because of his size, strength and propensity to run the football, they believed he is treated more like a running back and less like an oft-protected franchise passer.