Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the reason for at least some of quarterback Cam Newton’s accuracy issues vs. the Jets stuck out like a sore thumb.
Newton’s right thumb, specifically.
Newton has been dealing with pain in the thumb since banging it off “somebody’s back” in the Nov. 13 victory over Miami, according to Rivera.
Rivera said he didn’t know about the injury until after the bye week when the Panthers returned for practice. Newton was limited during the first two practices last week, but was a full participant Friday and did not have an injury status for Sunday’s game vs. the New York Jets.
Rivera thinks Newton might have struggled with his grip at times Sunday, contributing to a 39.3 completion percentage that was the third-lowest of Newton’s career. But that wasn’t the only problem in the passing game, according to Rivera.
“I think that’s possibly why a few of the balls sailed a little bit on him,” Rivera said Monday. “There were a lot of good decisions being made, obviously. But unfortunately the ball wasn’t delivered or we didn’t make the catch. And we had some opportunities, as well.”
Asked about his thumb after the game, Newton said: “It was all right.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Shula said he’s not sure Newton’s thumb bothered him vs. New York.
“I think early in the week it was a little bit of adjusting,” Shula said. “He’s probably not going to ever say (it affected him). He’s not going to use that as an excuse.”
Rivera said Newton would receive treatment the next two days before preparations for the Saints’ game begin Wednesday.
“I think he’s in a situation where it’s getting better,” Rivera said. “We’ll see how he responds to the treatment he gets … and we’ll see on Wednesday.”
Wide receiver Devin Funchess caught seven of Newton’s 11 completions in the 35-27 victory Sunday, despite dealing with a toe issue. Funchess said he stubbed his toe -- which he broke in college -- early in the game, but it’s not turf toe.
The Panthers should get some reinforcements this week.
Nickel back Captain Munnerlyn was back at the stadium and “virus-free” Monday after missing the trip to New York.
The Panthers also expect to activate speed receiver Damiere Byrd from injured reserve this week. Byrd broke his forearm in Week 4 at New England, but returned to practice last week.