Newton 'on target' to start

Charlotte, NC ( - Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told reporters Thursday that Cam Newton will "probably" start Sunday's game against Cleveland as the quarterback continues to progress well after a recent car accident.

Newton took the majority of first-team reps during Thursday's practice, his first full session since injuring his lower back in a two-car accident on Dec. 9. He declared himself pain-free when speaking to the media afterward, though Rivera has yet to make it definitive that Newton would be back under center against the Browns.

"I don't want to say yes and then suddenly we have a setback," Rivera said. "We want to go through the process and make sure we do things the right way. I would say he's on target. He had a good day today. He looked good out there, took the reps he was supposed to.

"But we're going through the process. He did a few more things, and we'll evaluate the tape and take a real good look to make sure he's fine. We did some more things with him that we didn't do yesterday, and we'll increase that again tomorrow to make sure he's really where he needs to be. Then we'll double-check him on Saturday morning."

Derek Anderson filled in for Newton last week against Tampa Bay, throwing for 277 yards and a touchdown to help the Panthers to an important 19-17 win over the Buccaneers.

"I don't think we're worried about who is starting at quarterback. I think we're both ready," Newton said.

At 5-8-1, the Panthers enter the season's final two weeks just behind 6-8 New Orleans for first place in the NFC South.