Cam Newton waited until the last minute, but it wasn’t enough time.
ESPN reported earler that Newton, who suffered two broken ribs during the third preseason game against the New England Patriots, was listed as inactive before game time, the first time in Newton’s career. Derek Anderson will start for the Panthers. This will be Anderson’s first start since December 5, 2010, his last start for the Arizona Cardinals. Anderson is 18-25 as a starter, including 10-5 in 2007, when he made the Pro Bowl for the Cleveland Browns. Anderson joined the Panthers in 2011.
Newton suffered the injury with Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins kneed Newton in the back after a 7-yard run. Though Newton participated in practice on Friday, Newton did not practice Wednesday and was limited in practice Thursday. Coach Ron Rivera felt it best not to play the third-year quarterback from Auburn and risk aggravating the injury.
“There’s some things you can’t measure, and that’s how he’ll react when he gets hit,” Rivera said Friday. “So when we make our decision Sunday morning, it’s going to be based on how we feel he’s done the last couple of days, how he feels in terms of handling what we want to do with the game plan and whether or not we believe he’ll be able to protect himself if he takes a shot.”
SB Nation is reporting that this deals a serious blow to the Panthers on offense. The Panthers lost their top three relievers from last year, Steve Smith, Ted Ginn, and Brandon LaFell. They are being replaced this year by Jericho Cotchery, Kelvin Benjamin, and Jason Avant. The three new receivers and Newton have not been able to play at the same time this year. Newton also suffered an ankle injury before the preseason started, then the broken ribs, so there is no continuity yet.
Throughout his three-year career, Newton never missed a game in the regular or postseason until Sunday. In 2013, Newton threw for a career-high 24 touchdowns against 13 interceptions while throwing for 3,379 yards. Newton also added 585 rushing yards and six scores.
Newton again practiced with a protective vest that is bigger than the one he was wearing against the Patriots. Newton said when he lunged forward against the Patriots, Collins’ knee struck him in a “dead spot” in his flak vest.
Rivera said the new vest is “about as good as it’s going to get, unless it gets too bulky and then you’re going to hinder him.”
The Panthers have not yet decided about Newton’s status for next week when they host the Detroit Lions.