Rivera to Newton: Throw the ball away

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will make his head coach much happier if he throws the ball away instead of scramble in Friday night's exhibition game at New England.

Newton scrambled three times in Sunday night's 28-16 victory against Kansas City, the first time he's faced an opponent since undergoing surgery on his left ankle in March.

On at least two scrambles coach Ron Rivera screamed from the sideline "a few words I probably shouldn't have" for the franchise quarterback to go down.

"But that's him, that's who he is," Rivera said after Tuesday's practice. "He wants to compete and he wants to make something happen. It's his natural instincts. Throwing the ball away goes against everything that is ingrained in him in terms of being a competitor."

That aside, Rivera said there's nothing at the moment to keep Newton from playing at least the first half against the Patriots.

"No, unless we're absolutely awful and they're killing us," Rivera said. "I don't expect that to happen. I expect us to go out and be competitive with those guys and do our jobs.

"As the game goes and progresses, we'll decide how much longer we want to keep him in."

Newton started 1-for-5 passing for 5 yards against Kansas City, then completed three of his final four attempts for 60 yards to help Carolina to a 14-6 halftime lead.

"Truthfully, he was in for one more drive than I really wanted him to be," Rivera said. "But he was feeling good. The trainers felt confident about the ankle. The offensive line was playing well and he'd just come off the touchdown drive.

"I figured, 'What the heck, we'll give him one more.' Then when I told him he was done we got into an argument because he wanted to do the two-minute drill. I said, 'No, enough is enough.'"

Rivera's plan against the Chiefs was to treat it like the third preseason game when coaches normally play their starters for three quarters. His reasoning was the team has a short week to prepare for New England, and the bodies may not have recovered enough for maximum effort.

He and the staff haven't come up with a game plan for New England yet. But because Newton needs more repetitions in game situations to improve the timing with an entire new group of wide receivers, that will be a factor.

"We've increased his practice reps so he gets those reps," Rivera said. "We'll see how it is. But you can't simulate game speed."

Newton has done at least one thing to make Rivera happy. He showed for both sessions of treatments on Monday as he has throughout the rehabilitation process even though there were no ill effects from the game.

"I'm pretty fired up that he's doing the things he needs to do." Rivera said.