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Cam Newton questionable for game vs. Bucs

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's health has been the dominant storyline surrounding the team since March, and it will continue to be for at least a couple more days.

Newton, who's been dealing with cracked ribs for the past two weeks, was listed as questionable on the team's injury report Friday. Under the NFL's reporting guidelines, that means the Panthers believe Newton has a 50 percent chance of playing in Sunday's season opener at Tampa Bay.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton threw passes and took all the reps he was scheduled to during Friday's practice. Rivera was encouraged with Newton's progress, but said Newton's status would be a game-day decision.

"I do feel better. He did take the next step, kind of what we were hoping, especially in light of how he felt the other day," Rivera said. "There was some concern obviously coming into practice. But he just seems to be getting stronger right now. So again, we're going to evaluate him, watch the tape, see how he looked to make sure he's technically and fundamentally sound."

Newton did not miss a game during his first three seasons, and sat out only a handful of snaps due to injury.

He said Wednesday he was "on pace" to play against the Bucs. But Rivera said he had to make a decision that was in the best interests of Newton and the team.

Backup quarterback Derek Anderson said he's ready to go if needed, adding he didn't have a sense of whether he would start.

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