Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton didn’t take the news that he would sit out Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Bucs well.
He tried to talk coach Ron Rivera out of the decision, which was made Saturday night after consulting with the Panthers doctors, trainers, coaches and Newton.
Newton didn’t want to miss the season opener – which was his first career game missed because of injury – but it wasn’t up to him.
“Believe me guys, he wants to play in the worst kind of way,” Rivera told the media after the 20-14 win against Tampa Bay. “You know who he is – he’s a heck of a football player and we know that.”
Newton cracked his ribs two weeks ago in the third exhibition against New England and practiced twice last week. He was limited Thursday but did more than the team expected at practice Friday.
Newton, a fourth-year pro and two-time Pro Bowler, tried to convince his coaches that he was healthy enough to play, but Rivera went against his wishes.
Newton has promised he wouldn’t change the way he played because of the injury, and that scared the team.
“The concern being that if that were to happen,” Rivera said, “the callous that’s built up there could have come off and we’re talking about another three-four weeks depending on how bad it was. We were really concerned.”
Head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion called the worst fear an accordion hit. That’s when Newton gets hit or sacked and the weight of the defender goes on top of him and through his body to the ground.
It’s a marathon and not a sprint, Rivera said last week, and the team looked out for Newton’s long-term health.
“The one thing the doctor stressed to me is if we could create one more opportunity, he’d be that much healthier,” Rivera said.
With the extra opportunity, Rivera expects Newton to play next week against Detroit. Newton declined to talk about himself or his injury after the game, saying it’d be selfish to take the spotlight away from Derek Anderson. But he seemed hopeful for this week.
“Whatever coach tells me to do, I’m going to do it. (Vermillion) as well,” Newton said. “I’m coming in for treatment (Monday) and I can’t wait.”
Newton wore black sweats and a sideways hat on the sideline. He ran onto the field before an offensive series to pump up his teammates.
That’s a no-no, and Newton and the Panthers were warned. Newton said after the game he didn’t know he couldn’t do that.
“The one thing I told him is be there for your teammates on the sideline,” Rivera said. “In fact we had to pull him back a couple of times. He wants to be part of everything we do and that’s why his teammates selected him as team captain.”