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Reasonable for Newton to play in Week 1

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is correct to be optimistic about having Cam Newton available for Week 1, but that doesn't mean the quarterback won't be affected by his rib injury.

Newton suffered a hairline rib fracture in the second quarter of Friday night's 30-7 preseason loss at New England when linebacker Jamie Collins stepped on his back at the end of a 7-yard scramble.

Newton will not play in Thursday's preseason finale at Pittsburgh, but Rivera is hopeful the first pick of the 2011 draft will be ready for the Sept. 7 opener at Tampa Bay.

ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell had this to say: "Rib injuries make it painful to move in any direction, twist, turn, reach, even take a deep breath. Even if pain gets manageable by Week 1, it could still hurt to throw hard [twisting rib cage, tug of abdominal muscles], run hard [the impact as well as breathing].

"If running and throwing aren't painful, it's still possible contact could aggravate. Much will be determined based on how he responds over next handful of days."

If you need an example of a quarterback who has played through the pain, look no further than Dallas' Tony Romo. He suffered a fractured rib and punctured lung against San Francisco in Week 2 of the 2011 season.

He played the following week against Washington and led the Cowboys to an 18-16 Monday night victory, completing 22 of 36 pass attempts for 255 yards.