Ron Rivera doesn't know for sure how Cam Newton will play Week 1

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This is what we have seen of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton since shoulder surgery: Two short passes. That’s it. He did complete them both, for what it’s worth.

And that might be all we see of Newton until the games count. The Panthers don’t know yet if they’ll start Newton in the fourth preseason game Thursday, according to the Charlotte Observer. Most teams don’t use any starters in the preseason finale, though this might be a special case. Even if Newton does play it won’t be long, so there’s a good chance Newton’s next pass will be Week 1 at the San Francisco 49ers.

If that’s a bit concerning, Panthers coach Ron Rivera’s comments don’t paint the most confident picture.

“I think he’s still taking steps. You really won’t know until the opener. That’s just the way it is,” Rivera said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “Nobody knew what he was going to be like his rookie year. That’s kind of how this is going to be. You won’t know until we open up in San Francisco.”

To sum up Rivera’s remarks: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Offseason shoulder surgery for a quarterback isn’t a minor deal, as the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck are proving. While Rivera is correct that Newton missed the offseason in 2011 because of the lockout and then threw for 4,051 yards, this is a much different situation. Newton’s return from shoulder injury has had some stops and starts, and just two low-stress passes in game situations. Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer wrote that despite being shut down for 12 days early in camp, for the last two weeks Newton has “appeared to be throwing without limitations.”

Week 1 in the NFL is full of mysteries, because we don’t know how new players will do in different spots, how scheme changes will take hold or what impact rookies will have on the season. Add Newton’s arm health to the list of mysteries.

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Cam Newton might not play in the Panthers' preseason finale. (AP)
Cam Newton might not play in the Panthers’ preseason finale. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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