Panthers' Rivera confident Cam Newton 'is ready' for Week 1

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Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is confident Cam Newton will be ready for the opening week of the NFL season despite a lack of preparation.

After surgery on his throwing shoulder in March, the quarterback played one drive in pre-season for the Panthers but Rivera thinks that was enough for the 2015 NFL MVP.

The Panthers face the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.

"I think he's ready,'' Rivera said, as quoted by ESPN. "You wish he'd had a few more snaps and played a little bit earlier in the preseason so we'd have more to go on.

"But what we saw, we liked. We liked how everything seems to be meshing together as an offense. We'll see how it goes as we continue to work this week.''

In the one drive Newton led in Week 3 of pre-season, the Panthers marched down the field on a 10-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown in a 24-23 win over the Jaguars. He went 2 for 2 for 21 yards and a touchdown.

Following his MVP season in 2015, Newton struggled in 2016 as the Panthers finished 6-10. He was hit countless times during the season from the team's Week 1 match-up against the Broncos and never got comfortable -- and neither did his teammates.

He has not taken hits in the pre-season, and the team has repeatedly said it wants him to play in the pocket more to avoid those big hits and enjoy a better 2017 campaign.