If the defending NFC champion Panthers are going to start digging out out of a 1-3 hole in Week 5, they might have to do it without quarterback Cam Newton. The reigning NFL MVP remains in concussion protocol as a result of a fourth-quarter hit in the Panthers’ 48-33 loss to the Falcons last Sunday and has missed back-to-back practices. As a result, he’s unlikely to suit up Monday in Tampa Bay, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.
While it could benefit Newton and the Panthers that he has an extra day to recover, the club only has two light practices remaining before Monday. That doesn’t bode well for a player who must successfully go through the NFL’s various steps to return from a concussion, as Person notes.
Newton hasn’t missed a game since 2014, and the two he sat out that year also came against the NFC South rival Buccaneers (1-3). Derek Anderson, who will start Monday if Newton can’t, completed 49-of-74 passes for 507 yards and three touchdowns in those matchups as he helped the Panthers to a pair of wins. Anderson relieved Newton last week and turned in an uneven performance, connecting on 17-of-23 attempts for 172 yards, two scores and two interceptions.
Newton led the Panthers to a 15-1 record last year while combining for 45 TDs (35 passing, 10 rushing) and nearly 4,500 total yards, but he hasn’t been nearly as effective this season. With five interceptions, the sixth-year man is already halfway to last season’s 16-game total and has also experienced a drop-off in most other major statistical categories. More alarmingly, he has now dealt with concussion questions multiple times in less than a month. In a Week 1 loss to the Broncos, Newton absorbed a handful of helmet-to-helmet hits, though team doctors determined that he didn’t suffer a concussion.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.