Newton no lock to play in preseason opener

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- It isn't a certainty that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will play in Friday night's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Newton underwent surgery on his left ankle in March and wasn't cleared to practice full until the start of training camp.

While the first pick of the 2011 draft hasn't had a setback and had one of his better days throwing on Tuesday, the Panthers haven't turned him loose to run or scramble.

"I'm not going to say yes and all of a sudden he's not going to,'' coach Ron Rivera said when asked if Newton would play. "And I'm not going to say no and all of a sudden he's going to. I've been told, in talking with the trainers, that we can't make a decision right now.''

Rivera said a decision likely won't be made until after Thursday's practice.

If Newton plays, Rivera said it won't be more than two series.

"And I imagine it'd involve a lot of handing the ball off,'' Rivera said.