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Panthers coach expects Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart to play Sunday

Panthers coach expects Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart to play Sunday
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has cleared concussion protocol and will start Sunday if he has no setbacks the rest of the week. (Bob Leverone / Associated Press)

Panthers Coach Ron Rivera said quarterback Cam Newton is expected to start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints “barring a setback” in his recovery from a concussion. 

Newton participated fully in practice Friday, but remains in the league's concussion protocol. Rivera said the league's reigning MVP still has to meet with an independent doctor before being cleared to play.

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Rivera also said running back Jonathan Stewart is expected to return to action after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury.

However, Carolina has other injury concerns, most notably in the secondary where it will be without both starting cornerbacks when facing Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has thrown 27 touchdown passes in his last seven games at the Superdome.

James Bradberry (toe) and Robert McClain (hamstring) have been ruled out, along with offensive tackle Michael Oher (concussion) and defensive tackles Vernon Butler (ankle) and Paul Soliai (foot).

Las Vegas' NFL stadium proposal moves forward

Nevada took a giant step closer to becoming home of the Raider Nation on Friday, after state lawmakers narrowly approved a hotel tax increase that would put $750 million in public money toward an NFL stadium partly funded by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

A cadre of lobbyists for the project strained over the last week to overcome conservative anxiety over a tax increase and liberal objections to subsidizing one of the world's richest men, eventually securing the bare minimum number of Assembly votes to hit the required two-thirds majority. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who views the $1.9-billion stadium as a way to ensure Las Vegas' continued dominance in tourism, is expected to sign the deal Monday in Las Vegas.

Raiders owner Mark Davis praised Sandoval and lawmakers in a statement. 

"All parties have worked extremely hard to develop and approve this tremendous stadium project that will serve as a proud new home for the entire Raider Nation," he said.

But it's far from settled that Oakland's team will move to Las Vegas, a city that's only now ending its drought of professional sports after landing an NHL expansion team over the summer. Oakland still holds out hope that it can keep the Raiders from leaving them a second time, and a relocation needs the blessing of three-fourths of NFL team owners — a conservative bunch that's historically shunned Las Vegas because of its legalized sports betting. 

Still, proponents who envision Raiders games in Sin City by 2020 will have a persuasive bargaining chip to show when NFL owners meet next week: The prospect of a sparkling, 65,000-seat domed venue close to the Las Vegas Strip, backed by $650 million from Adelson, $500 million from the Raiders and the NFL and a $750 million public investment.

Critics pointed out that some outside economists, including Stanford professor and sports economist Roger Noll, have panned the deal as a boondoggle based on outlandish financial expectations. Defenders of the stadium say Las Vegas' outsized tourism economy, with 150,000 hotel rooms and 42 million visitors each year, is just so different than other markets that are more dependent on locals.

Etc.

 New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis returned to practice in a limited role for the first time since injuring a hamstring two weeks ago, increasing the chances he might play Monday night at Arizona.  … The injury-thinned and winless Browns placed starting offensive guard Joel Bitonio (mid-foot sprain) on injured reserve with a sprained foot, likely ending his season. … Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (hamstring), who has yet to play after missing four game while under suspension, is doubtful for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. ...

Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson (knee), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (illness) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (hand), all starters, have been taken off the injured list are expected to play Sunday when Chicago hosts Jacksonville. … Tennessee Titans safety Da'Norris Searcy said he expects to play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns after missing the last two games with a high left ankle sprain. … Miami Dolphins guard Laremy Tunsil (ankle) was practicing fully but listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. …

Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams because of an ankle injury. Riddick joins tight end Eric Ebron (ankle, knee), linebacker DeAndre Levy (knee, quadriceps) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (shoulder), who are also ruled out for the game. … Atlanta Falcons rookie linebackers De'Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones, who both had ankle injuries, will return for Sunday's game at Seattle. 

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