Carolina Panthers

Did Panthers’ Cam Newton take another questionable hit vs. Rams? ‘There was one of concern’

Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton early in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton early in the fourth quarter on Sunday. TNS

After Sunday’s game in Los Angeles, neither Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton nor head coach Ron Rivera wanted to say much about a few hits Newton took en route to five total sacks.

“I’ll have to go back and watch the tape,” Rivera said.

“I’m not worried about that,” said Newton, when asked about two hits in particular; one from Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the other from outside linebacker Mark Barron.

Rivera watched the film on his flight back to Charlotte on Sunday evening after the team squeaked out a 13-10 victory. And on Monday, he mentioned “one hit” that the team will likely submit to the league for review.

“Again, it’s tough for (the referees) to judge things as they happen at full speed and angles and things like that,” said Rivera. “But there was one of concern, and we’ll talk about that and see what the league has to say and go from there.

Again, it’s tough for (the referees) to judge things as they happen at full speed and angles and things like that. But there was one of concern, and we’ll talk about that and see what the league has to say and go from there.

Head coach Ron Rivera on hit on Cam Newton

“Other than that, I think they handled it well. There were a lot of things that they missed on both sides, a lot of things they got right on both sides. That’s the nature of the game and it happens. Like I said, just one of concern and we’ll see if they agree or disagree.”

Rivera did not specify the hit in question when asked.

Much had been made on social media on Sunday night specifically about Barron’s sack on Newton. Multiple angles of the takedown at various speeds have circulated, with some appearing to be simple shoulder contact and others appearing to show helmets clacking together.

“Well, he could have been spying the quarterback and he could have been in man coverage,” said Rivera of Barron’s play. “But it was an odd front. ... Again, it was well-timed as far as him coming up the middle.”

Rivera did not discuss the play any further, but said that Newton “was fine.”

Newton said last week that he spoke on the phone with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after a no-call on an illegal hit by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell. The hit drew a postgame rant Newton’s perception of a lack of regulation of those type of hits where he is concerned.

“I don’t feel safe,” he said at the time, adding that on that particular play he could have torn his ACL.

Longtime NFL coach and current Football Night in America analyst Tony Dungy spoke up on Newton’s behalf on the broadcast Sunday night.

“Some of these hits have to be called. ... I know how they interpret it, but some of this has to be called,” he said.

Rivera, a linebacker for the Chicago Bears for nine seasons from 1984-92, added that as the game has changed, some players have perhaps lost the “hit-and-wrap” mentality and instead focused on highlight hits.

“Well, I think tackling was different,” he said. “We hit, wrapped and drove our feet. You squared him up, you put your head to the side, you know, shoulder tackle. Stuff like that. Today, when you watch guys, you see guys launching, basically trying to knock people off their feet. It’s a little different from then. You go back and look at tackling from the 1980s and 1990s, and I think it’s vastly different from today.

“It might be partly because people are looking for the big hits, the big collisions so that they can have it on highlight reels. ... It’s just different. It’s a different era.”

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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