While the NFLPA and the NFL are investigating whether the Panthers followed the proper concussion protocol after quarterback Cam Newton took four hits to the helmet last Thursday in Denver (one of which was flagged by the NFL’s officials), the Panthers are defending their track record on head injuries.
Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, the Panthers insist Newton was checked out properly during the game, and that he was not concussed.
“I have a tremendous amount of confidence in our medical staff,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We follow the protocol the way it’s been explained to us, and I say that because of what we’ve done the last few years.”
The Panthers can point to the way they’ve handled things in the past, such as with middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who suffered a concussion during the opener and missed the following three weeks.
“He was dying to get back in and they wouldn’t let him,” center Ryan Kalil said. “He’s arguably one of the best defensive players in the league — I’d want him back in there, too. So I think our guys have done a great job with that stuff over the years.”
Kalil said he saw no indication that Newton wasn’t in any shape to play, despite the repeated hits to the head from the Broncos. The Panthers said Newton went through four tests including after the game and upon arriving back in Charlotte, and hasn’t shown any concussion-related symptoms.
“I saw a guy who’s trying to score. I saw a guy who was trying to get us in a good position to win,” Kalil said. “If he had any problems I didn’t see it. We were talking about one the protections, and he reminded me about something we talked about earlier in the week, so I thought he was fine.”
Rivera said other than the usual soreness associated with such a physical game, Newton was fine, and was expected to play against the 49ers.