The Panthers' Cam Newton "probably" will start Sunday against the Cleveland Browns barring any physical setbacks this week, Carolina coach Ron Rivera said after the quarterback practiced on Thursday.
The team increased Newton's workload, and Rivera said the fourth-year QB seemed to handle it well. However, the coach was hesitant on naming Newton the starter in case he begins to experience soreness in his back.
"I would say he is on target" to start, Rivera said. "He had a good day and took the reps he was supposed to."
Newton was a full participant in practice Thursday, nine days after he was involved in a two-vehicle crash that left him hospitalized for one night with two fractures in his lower back.
He declared himself pain-free after the workout.
"If I can play, we all know I want to play," Newton said. "But at the end of the day I won't jeopardize what we have the opportunity to do just because of my selfishness to say, 'Oooh, I'm a tough man.' "
Peyton Manning is over his illness but not his injury.
Denver's quarterback was limited Thursday, when the Broncos reconvened for their first practice since their 22-10 win at San Diego on Sunday. Manning fought through the flu in that game and strained his right thigh in the first half, which he blamed on dehydration.
Manning participated in the walk-through but retreated to the Broncos' facility after the team stretch.
Manning didn't appear in any discomfort afterward. He had the coloring back in his face and even jokingly referenced Bill Belichick three times when he answered reporters' questions with a "We're on to Cincinnati" mantra.
Seahawks extend Wright
The Seattle Seahawks signed linebacker K.J. Wright to a four-year contract extension on Thursday, keeping one of their key defensive players from reaching free agency.
"The timing of this signing gives us the ability to keep as many of our core players together as we possibly can," Seattle general manager John Schneider said in a statement. "Since Day 1, K.J. has been a true professional in his daily approach."
Wright has been a versatile component of Seattle's linebacker corps since his arrival as a fourth-round pick in 2011. Wright has started at multiple linebacker positions, but Seattle has found he's at his best as the weakside linebacker.
Wright is leading Seattle with 96 tackles this season, already a career high, has two sacks and forced three fumbles. He's started all 14 games, including three at middle linebacker when Bobby Wagner was out with a foot injury.
The Chicago Bears benched Jay Cutler, deciding to start Jimmy Clausen against the Detroit Lions this weekend instead of their franchise quarterback who signed a massive, seven-year deal at the end of last season.
Coach Marc Trestman said Cutler will be available as the backup for Sunday's game at Soldier Field, where boos have rained down on a punchless, porous team that is now 5-9 and playing out the string after starting the season with legitimate hopes of a playoff run. They will miss the postseason for the seventh time in eight years.
Trestman said he met with general manager Phil Emery on Tuesday and informed Cutler and Clausen of his decision on Wednesday. He met again with Emery later in the day to discuss his decision and informed the staff that night.