CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton has been cleared from the NFL’s concussion program and can play Sunday when Carolina visits New Orleans.

The team said Saturday in a short statement that Newton had passed the league’s concussion protocol. Previously, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the quarterback and 2015 league MVP was expected to start against the Saints “barring a setback.”

Newton participated fully in practice Friday, but still had to meet with an independent doctor before being cleared to play.

Newton hasn’t spoken to reporters since suffering a concussion on Oct. 2 against the Falcons.

The Panthers are 1-4 and have lost three straight games.

AP NFL website: and