Carolina Panthers

Panthers GM Dave Gettleman explains why Cam Newton played through shoulder injury

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, right, , lays on the turf after failing to stop San Diego Chargers' Trovon Reed from returning an interception for a touchdown during the Dec. 11 game at Bank of America Stadium.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, right, , lays on the turf after failing to stop San Diego Chargers' Trovon Reed from returning an interception for a touchdown during the Dec. 11 game at Bank of America Stadium. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman is confident Cam Newton will be ready for training camp following next week’s shoulder surgery, which mirrors the timeline provided Tuesday by head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion.

Newton is expected to begin a throwing rehabilitation regimen 12 weeks after Dr. Pat Connor performs the arthroscopic procedure to repair a partially torn rotator cuff, and throw fully with the team at 16 weeks.

Gettleman also explained why the Panthers chose to continue playing Newton through the injury, even as they decided to sit middle linebacker Luke Kuechly for the final three games even after he exited the concussion protocol.

“It’s two different cases and I’m not going to go down there,” he said, in response to Newton’s playing versus Kuechly’s sitting. “There’s always conversations with injuries. We have this crazy idea we should care about them as people. They’re going to have long lives beyond their NFL careers.

“Everybody’s done on a case-by-case basis. Charles (Johnson) didn’t play the last game because of a leg (injury), I believe. We are in the business of winning.

“That’s what we’re here for. I just know that’s my responsibility – put the best club on the field and to win games, that’s Ron (Rivera’s) job. That’s why we’re all here. You talk about our culture here and the No. 1 priority is winning football games. Those conversations happen.

“Cam’s a football player. He wanted to play and the medical people felt it was fine, so we did.”

Vermillion also explained to the Panthers’ team site that rest and rehab were the first options for the team when dealing with this specific type of injury.

That same report revealed that the partial tear was discovered in December after the victory over San Diego.

Rivera was asked about the MRI in the week following the San Diego game, including an Observer reporter who asked if the exam “came back pretty clean.”

“Yes, yes it was,” Rivera responded.

Multiple media outlets have reported that the December MRI was “clean” since that time, before the Panthers’ Tuesday announcement contradicted that.

At the time, Newton also shrugged off the injury as “nothing to be scary about,” and the team listed him on its injury reports and described the injury as soreness for the final three games.

On Friday, Gettleman was asked to clarify those specific December comments by Rivera and Newton regarding Newton’s shoulder after the MRI.

“The bottom line is, my integrity and the organization’s integrity is very important,” he said. “Our owner is old-school. I’m old-school, so it works for me. At the end of the day, it is what it is. We have been very transparent. I know that Ron is as transparent as any head coach in this league, and I know I am as well. And my integrity is very important to me, so the facts are the facts. And Ryan laid it out. Keep moving.”

Gettleman said and that there is a plan in place for the upcoming OTAs without Newton, who will be unavailable while rehabbing his shoulder. That leaves two backups, Derek Anderson and Joe Webb, as the quarterbacks who will throw during that time.

On Friday afternoon, the team added quarterback Garrett Gilbert, a 25-year-old product of Texas and SMU, to the mix.

“I’m not going to tell you what we’re doing. But we’ve got a plan, and we’re going to keep moving forward,” Gettleman said before the Gilbert deal was announced. “You’re always looking to better your team, no matter what position it is.

“We may do something, we may not. We’ll just see what’s available and who’s out there.”

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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