A Carolina Panthers official said Friday that quarterback Cam Newton, who took several helmet-to-helmet hits during Thursday night’s 21-20 season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos, has passed four concussion tests.
Team spokesman Steven Drummond said the tests came in the lockerroom after the game, on the bus to the airport in Denver, on the flight back to Charlotte and in Charlotte on Thursday at 6 a.m.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, in a news conference at the stadium, confirmed the tests. And while Rivera said his opinion was that some of the hits on Newton should have drawn penalties and that it’s time Newton started getting some “veteran favoritism,” he didn’t consider pulling Newton from the game and is confident the concussion protocol was followed.
“I’m not going to question the doctors,” Rivera said. “They’re the trained professionals.”
Rivera also said that in the future the NFL should consider making blows to the head of the quarterback reviewable under the instant replay system.
Other topics Rivera addressed in the news conference:
▪ He said wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who is coming back from a torn ACL suffered a year ago, played about 15 more snaps than Rivera would have liked on Thursday. Rivera had said the target for Benjamin was 35 snaps.
▪ Rivera praised the play of rookie cornerback James Bradberry and said he didn’t agree with some calls that went against him. “I thought he played really well,” Rivera said.
▪ He said he wished Daryl Worley, the Panthers’ other rookie cornerback, would have played more.
▪ On veteran punter Andy Lee: “I thought Andy Lee was phenomenal. ... He justified – at least initially – why we went out and got him.”