Cam Newton is listed on the injury as questionable, while Ron Rivera has elaborated that Cam is a gametime decision. Cam took all of his reps at yesterday's practice and has been throwing, but as with most rib injuries it's really about pain management and how it affects his play. Rivera says he's going to speak to the coaches and to Cam before making a final decision today or tomorrow.
It is important to note that as we know of Cam, he will likely say he wants to play. What needs to be accounted for is his long term health for the season here. While we all want to see Cam play and lead his team into the first game, is it worth risking his health for both the long term and the entire season? This will be Ron Rivera's choice, but it is good to know the Panthers have a very capable backup in Derek Anderson, who took the majority of first team reps prior to Cam's return from offseason ankle surgery.
Roster Decisions of Note
While the injury report is pretty cut and dry (Cam being the only name listed), there are a few other roster decisions that come after some competitions over the offseason. Per Max Henson, the Panthers have designated Roman Harper as the starter at strong safety for Sunday's game. While this shouldn't be a surprise, it is worth noting that Harper didn't get a single rep during the preseason until week 4* at strong safety in the Panthers' defensive scheme. However, with Robert Lester being moved to the practice squad and Anderson Russell reaching an injury settlement, the decision with Harper was pretty much a given at this point.
In related news, the Panthers have also decided to use Bene Benwikere as the starting nickel corner over veteran Charles Godfrey. While Benwikere is young, he had a tremendous camp while Charles Godfrey struggled with the change from safety to corner. The good news here is that the Panthers are going to use Godfrey to spell Roman Harper (if they have to). Godfrey is great depth because we know he can play safety and he will still be able to step in and play nickel cornerback in a pinch. This also allows Carolina to let Godfrey return to 100% (or as close as possible) following his Achilles injury in 2013.
A few other notes here are that the Panthers have decided to start Trai Turner but will also rotate in Fernando Velasco. Turner's conditioning could be an issue following his injury so Velasco will keep him fresh. The Panthers also plan to use both Chase Blackburn and AJ Klein as the third starting linebacker throughout the game, rather than sticking to just one.