Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has begun throwing a regulation-sized football, a league source told the Observer on Thursday night.
It’s another key step in the rehabilitation process for Newton, who had a second offseason shoulder surgery on his throwing arm this spring.
Newton has not thrown overhand during the public workouts available to media so far this spring.
After shoulder surgery on their throwing arms, some quarterbacks must rebuild their arm strength using foam footballs or high school-sized footballs before moving up to a regulation size, to avoid stressing the shoulder.
When Newton was recovering from his first shoulder surgery in 2017 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff, he was not allowed to throw overhand for a length of time, finally doing so near the end of Panthers training camp that summer.
But this surgery, an arthroscopic scope, has been characterized to the Observer by multiple sources over the last several months as a “cleanout procedure”, rather than a repair.
Coaches and teammates have remained optimistic about Newton’s continued recovery through the winter and spring.
“They’ll continue to go through the process ... I’m optimistic,” head coach Ron Rivera said earlier this month. “I think he’s done a great job. Everything I’ve seen tells me that he’s doing a great job. We’ll just continue to go forward with it.”
Newton had the scope, performed by Charlotte and Panthers team surgeon Dr. Pat Connor, on Jan. 24.
According to a video blog created by Newton’s production company, Iconic Saga, Connor told Newton after the surgery that “cartilage damage (was) much less severe than they originally thought.”
While the Panthers did not want to give a specific timeline for Newton’s return to full participation, he has been expected to participate fully in training camp this July and August.
Newton, 30, began to feel soreness and tightness, along with a limited range of motion in his shoulder, after a fourth-quarter comeback win against Philadelphia in late October. He starting limiting his throws during practices, on what Rivera called a “pitch count”, and checked himself out of games twice on long-ball “Hail Mary” attempts when it became clear his shoulder would not allow him to unfurl the deep passes for which he’s long been known.
Newton ultimately sat out the final two games of the season.
“I believe in him 100 percent,” said Rivera in late December, of the decision to sit Newton. “I believe he does everything he can to give us a chance to win. That’s why this is a tough decision. But it’s also, I think, the decision we needed to make.”
“You know how I’ve always felt about him. I think the world of who he is as a young man, as a person, as a competitor.”