A bothersome knee injury was reportedly a contributing factor as to why Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton staggered to the ground and struggled to stay balanced after a hard hit to the head in last Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff loss.
The NFL learned about the injury while interviewing Panthers officials over the phone this week as part of its investigation into whether concussion protocol was properly followed with Newton, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Panthers said Newton was poked in the eye and was evaluated for a concussion in the team’s blue medical tent on the sideline. NFL concussion protocol requires removing players from the field and an examination in the locker room.
Newton underwent an MRI for the knee injury Monday, which came back negative. A source told ESPN that Newton would have been ready to play had the Panthers advanced to this weekend’s NFC divisional playoff game.
With 8:26 left in the 31-26 loss to New Orleans, Newton went down after a hit by Saints backup defensive tackle David Onyemata. Approaching the sideline, Newton went to the ground and gestured toward his right eye or forehead.
According to the NFL, this action required a locker room examination due to the inclusion of the notice that league will “require a locker room concussion evaluation for all players demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand).”
Newton returned on the next series and threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Christian McCaffrey on the third play of the possession.
Newton echoed coach Ron Rivera’s assessment that Newton was poked in the eye.
“I know it was precautionary things for a concussion,” Newton said last week, “but it wasn’t a hit to the head it was my eye. My helmet had came down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player’s stomach I believe. I thought somebody stuck their finger in my eye, but I’ve got my visor, so that couldn’t happen.”
–Field Level Media