Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was nowhere to be found Monday during his team’s dispiriting 17-14 loss to Tampa Bay.
But the reigning league MVP could be back in the fold soon.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera told ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters before the game that Newton participated in some football-specific drills Monday – a sign that Newton continues to progress in the concussion protocol.
Newton missed the third game of his NFL career after he was drilled by Falcons linebacker Deion Jones on a successful 2-point conversion last weekend in Atlanta.
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Rivera said after the game that the team would re-evaluate Newton on Tuesday morning.
“We’ll find out,” Rivera said. “He is going through the protocol.”
Panthers players have Tuesday off – as mandated under the collective bargaining agreement – before beginning preparations for New Orleans on Wednesday.
The Panthers also could be getting running back Jonathan Stewart back. Stewart, who has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, worked out on the field before the game.
Rivera expressed optimism on Saturday about Stewart’s availability for the Saints’ game.