CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Cam Newton has a hairline fracture in his ribs but expects his quarterback to be ready for the regular-season opener against the Bucs on Sept. 7.
He won't play in the final preseason game.
Newton was hit while scrambling Friday against New England. He continued to play, and an MRI exam on Sunday revealed the fracture. Rivera said Newton is "pretty sore."
Newton, who was unavailable for comment, has never missed a start in his three seasons.
"We will treat it day by day and see how he is at the end of the week," Rivera said. "He has to get past the soreness."
More Panthers: Former Bucs receiver Tiquan Underwood was released.
NFL to ban Broncos kicker for four games
DENVER — Broncos kicker Matt Prater will be suspended for four games, his lawyer said. The NFL is expected to announce it today, the Denver Post reported.
Harvey Steinberg said the league threatened a one-year suspension before agreeing to the shorter one, so an appeal is not expected. He added Prater drank beer this summer. Prater has been in the NFL's substance-abuse program since a DUI charge in 2011.
"This guy was off probation. There's no allegation that he used PEDs or illegal drugs," Steinberg said. "He was on vacation, had three beers three years after a DUI. Come on, give me break."
Denver's only other kicker is rookie Mitch Ewald.
Welker out: Broncos receiver Wes Welker was diagnosed with his third concussion in 10 months a day after getting hit by Texans safety D.J. Swearinger. He's out indefinitely. One play after the hit, Peyton Manning threw a touchdown, ran toward Swearinger and was penalized for taunting. Swearinger said he wasn't trying to hurt Welker: "I led with my shoulder. He's a short guy." Neither player disclosed what Manning said.
Bears: Quarterback Jordan Palmer was released, espn.com reported, leaving Jimmy Clausen as Jay Cutler's backup.
Bengals: Owner Mike Brown, 79, was treated for what the team called a "minor medical situation" and missed Sunday's game at Arizona.
Bills: Defensive tackle Alan Branch was released a day after he was arrested on a drunken driving charge. Police said they spotted Branch vomiting out the side of his car in Cheektowaga, N.Y. It added he recorded a blood-alcohol level of .14, over the limit of .08 at which someone is presumed impaired.
Packers: Starting center J.C. Tretter will miss 5-6 weeks with what the team called only a "significant" knee injury sustained Friday against the Falcons.
Patriots: Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly will be cut, he said.
Titans: Starting defensive end Ropati Pitoitua broke his left hand Saturday against the Falcons but is not expected to miss regular-season games.
Missing Jet: Cornerback Dimitri Patterson returned to camp two days after not showing up for a game against the Giants. In between, he had no direct communication with the team. General manager John Idzik said he learned, through agent Drew Rosenhaus, the player was not hurt and it was not believed to be a legal issue. But the team didn't disclose any details.
Marino joins Dolphins: Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino was named a special adviser to owner Stephen Ross. Marino was named Miami's senior vice president in 2004 but left after less than a month, citing family and other reasons.
San Francisco offense continues to struggle
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The 49ers' No. 1 offense looked shaky again during a 21-7 win over the Chargers.
Phil Dawson's 39-yard field goal with 9:27 left in the first half ended an eight-quarter scoring drought and doubled San Francisco's preseason total. Vance McDonald scored its first touchdown of the preseason on a 6-yard catch from backup Blaine Gabbert 8:41 later. Starter Colin Kaepernick was 6-of-12 for 59 yards.
San Diego's Philip Rivers was 9-of-10 for 85 yards and a touchdown. Starting center Nick Hardwick suffered a neck injury. Details and his status were not disclosed.