Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera is cautiously optimistic he could get his quarterback back this week.
Cam Newton remains in the concussion protocol, but Rivera said he had “a good day” Monday when he lifted weights, ran and threw passes to one of the team’s younger receivers.
Newton missed his third game in six seasons Monday after sustaining a concussion in an Oct. 2 loss at Atlanta when Falcons linebacker Deion Jones hit on a 2-point conversion run.
Newton was at Bank of America Stadium early Monday, but left before the Panthers’ 17-14 loss to Tampa Bay.
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“He had a good day on Monday. He came out and worked out with our training staff. They took him out and he ran. He threw the ball. ... He lifted,” Rivera said Tuesday. “I don’t know how he is today. I haven’t had a chance to see him. But I know (Monday) he did a lot. They put a lot on his table. So we’ll see how he is.”
The Panthers (1-4) will try to snap a three-game losing streak Sunday at New Orleans. Players were off Tuesday and will begin practicing for the Saints (1-3) on Wednesday.
Returning to football-specific work is an important step in the concussion protocol, but the exertion can cause the post-concussion symptoms to reoccur in some players.
The Panthers’ team doctor and an independent neurologist must clear Newton before he can begin practicing again.
Rivera said he was optimistic about Newton’s availability this week, but reiterated he had not spoken to Newton as of lunchtime Tuesday.
Newton was photographed Monday riding a Segway-like device without a helmet, which became fodder for many of the sports highlights shows.
Rivera was not concerned, and laughed when he was asked about it.
“I’m not going to worry about that. I don’t know,” he said. “The bottom line is he’s an adult. And we’ll go from there.”
Rivera didn’t have any updates on the four other players who were sidelined Monday – running back Jonathan Stewart (hamstring), left tackle Michael Oher (concussion protocol), cornerback James Bradberry (turf toe) and defensive tackle Vernon Butler (high ankle sprain).