Much like they did late last season and again this preseason, the Carolina Panthers are cutting back Cam Newton’s practice reps in the hopes of getting their sore-shouldered quarterback through the next 15 weeks.
Newton, coming back from offseason shoulder surgery, has been on a pitch count at practice each of the past two weeks. That has made it difficult for him to develop any timing and rhythm, particularly with some of his new pass catchers, such as Christian McCaffrey.
Joe Person and Jourdan Rodrigue, the Observer’s Panthers beat writers, debate whether the Panthers are making the right call with Newton.
Joe: We’re at Week 3 and again it’s another week where Cam Newton is limited at practice. He’s gone two days where he hasn’t been throwing full (strength). At what point do the Panthers get worried about their franchise quarterback?
Jourdan: Well, we heard Ron Rivera talk about this being the new normal for Cam, making sure he’s limited for practice. We saw him (Thursday) kind of shadowing Derek Anderson on his dropback a little bit, going through everything but the actual throw itself. This is something that Ron said was going to have to be the case with Newton. It’s kind of a low-risk option for their quarterback.
Joe: And I get that. From a health standpoint you’ve got to figure out a way to keep No. 1 upright through the next 14 games. But my deal is you’ve got a quarterback now that two weeks in a row has been overshooting receivers, Christian McCaffrey most recently against Buffalo. And the timing’s off. And you’re not going to get that timing down with him going half-speed or not making all his throws at practice. It’s a difficult balance they’re trying to walk right now.
Jourdan: Yeah, it’s a tough call to make. I think they would rather have a quarterback who is having to go through a trial by fire in every single game to get his timing back than a quarterback who can’t throw at all. I do think this is a better-safe-than-sorry mode. I think Cam’s healthy. But they’re making sure that he’s just coming back in the protocol they think is best for him, and to limit that risk so he doesn’t get hurt later on down the line.
Joe: You can’t get him hurt. I get that. And you can’t shut him down. So the Panthers are going to try to live with this. And I think we’re going to see them relying on this defense more and more as the season goes on.