Cam Newton out against Bills

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl quarterback Cam Newton did not play in Friday night's preseason-opening 20-18 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

This is not a setback for Newton, who underwent surgery in March to tighten tendons in his left ankle, as much as it is precautionary.

While Newton has been sharp in practice, he still hasn't been cleared to scramble or run the read option. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said it was a matter of days before that happens.

That Newton did not play isn't a surprise. He did not take reps with the first-team offense on Thursday, when the team installed what little game plan they were going to for Buffalo.

Newton spent that time working with trainer Ryan Vermillion on exercises to determine if the ankle was structurally sound. Newton said afterward there were no issues.

While Newton said on Thursday he wanted to play, Rivera and offensive coordinator Mike Shula stressed the goal was have the team's franchise quarterback ready for the season opener at Tampa Bay.

"We've got to get him ready for game day,'' Shula told ESPN.com on Thursday. "Does he need reps? Everybody does because of the newness of our personnel. But we have to be smart.''