Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a hairline fracture in his ribs that has left his availability for the start of the regular season in question.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said an MRI on Sunday morning revealed the fracture in the lower portion of Newton's right midsection.
Rivera said Newton was out for Thursday's exhibition finale at Pittsburgh, and expects him to play in the season opener at Tampa Bay on Sept. 7. But Rivera later referred to Newton's status as "week to week."
Newton was injured during the second quarter of Friday's night loss at New England when Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins kneed Newton in the back while making a tackle at the end of Newton's 7-yard scramble.
Newton was wearing a flak jacket, but Rivera said Newton was struck in the crease of the jacket.
"Unfortunately what happened was, the way the flak jacket sits, that was the only crease in the protection. And wouldn't you know it, that's the one spot he got it on," Rivera said. "I just happened to be in the locker room when they brought him in at halftime and watched it and said where'd you get hit and he pointed right between the two shells. It's crazy how that happens but that's what happened."
There is little treatment to be done for a hairline fracture other than rest, Rivera said. And getting the soreness out will be the first priority, according to Rivera.
Newton has never missed a regular-season start in his first three NFL seasons. Newton looked to be in pain Sunday when he walked on to the Panthers' practice field with head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion.
Newton underwent offseason ankle surgery that kept him out most of organized team activities.
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