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Panthers overworked Cam Newton some early but he's ready now

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Newton chimes in as Rivera answers questions about Peppers (0:22)

As Panthers coach Ron Rivera is answering a question on DE Julius Peppers, QB Cam Newton can be heard on the other side shouting "Oh Julius!". (0:22)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As much precaution as the Carolina Panthers took with quarterback Cam Newton and the rehabilitation of his surgically-repaired shoulder during training camp they apparently could have taken more.

"He wants to be out and competing," coach Ron Rivera said on Wednesday when telling how tough it was for Newton not to be a full participant in camp. "He wants to be out there developing, growing. He wants to be on the field. It's one of those things where we have to save him from himself.

"We have to save him from us sometimes. We got carried away at one point and it cost us three or four days. The doc wanted to slow him down."

Newton threw a lot during the first four days of training camp, and then midway through the fifth day was pulled when the staff noticed fatigue and some soreness in the shoulder.

The 2015 NFL MVP didn't throw in practice for most of the next two weeks and was limited to one series in four preseason games.

"It's just the way it happens," Rivera said. "There's not much you can do about it. You've just got to go about the business. He tried to stay as engaged as possible."

Rivera said the one series, a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, was enough to convince him his quarterback would be ready for Sunday's opener at San Francisco.

Rivera said the offense won't be limited "on what we're going to do or who is going to do it" because of Newton, who underwent surgery on March 30 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff.

Newton was listed as a full participant on Wednesday when the first official injury report of the season was released. Following a practice in heavy rain, Newton spending much of the media locker room period playing basketball on a miniature goal with outside linebacker Thomas Davis.

As Rivera later talked about 37-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers in the media room, Newton stood outside the door shouting, "Julius. Oh Julius," in a high-pitched tone.

Even Rivera had to laugh at that, another sign of how anxious Newton is to get back on the field.

"There is a little bit different of a flare to him right now as opposed to last year and the year before and the year before that," he said. "Cam's an individual. He's his own person. He goes about it his way."