Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton injury history warrants skepticism

(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) Cam Newton
(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) Cam Newton /

Carolina Panthers recent injury “disclosures” lead to skepticism regarding Cam Newton.

Under coach Ron Rivera, the Carolina Panthers have a history of veiled injury analysis, especially when dealing with franchise quarterback Cam Newton. In 2016, the former No. 1 overall pick was injured in a Week 14 contest against the San Diego Chargers but never missed any time until he had offseason surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Last year the extent to which Newton was battling shoulder soreness was never fully revealed until after he was finally shut down completely with two games remaining.

The shrouded reporting isn’t illegal, Newton appeared on the injury reports as required but nothing was ever addressed other than soreness and explanations of this being “the new normal”. Last offseason he underwent surgery again, having a “procedure” performed to help alleviate the pain while relentlessly working on his rehab and mechanics in order to avoid any future issues.

Newton isn’t the only Panthers player to undergo this treatment. In 2017, after missing a majority of the previous season with an injured shoulder, center Ryan Kalil “woke up” with a neck injury and ended up playing in only six games during the year. More recently, linebacker Luke Kuechly exited a training camp practice, was given some days off and then suited up for the last preseason game without ever disclosing any issue.

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Now, Newton has an injured foot to add onto his damaged shoulder but the Panthers are optimistic he’ll be ready to roll in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. There’s no doubt he was never going to play in the final preseason game this week and he’ll likely show up on the injury report leading up to the opener, presumably being listed as a game time decision.

Given the current state of the backup situation, no one can argue that even a limited Newton doesn’t give the Panthers a better opportunity to win over Kyle Allen, Will Grier or Taylor Heinicke but is it worth the risk?

Ultimately, Rivera has to determine if subjecting Newton to early punishment and hoping he can hang on for a full season is better than taking some lumps with a backup under center while aiming for a full, healthy return, later hopefully followed by positive results.

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A tricky situation no doubt, so prepare for the same stories of limited practices and required injury reports until Newton proves otherwise.