Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has had a problem with his shoulder for most of the season. As the season comes to a conclusion, Newton still doesn’t know what the problem is.
“For people who [have] labrum, rotator cuff, just shoulder soreness . . . I wish I could say what the injury is because I don’t really know what it is either,” Newton told reporters after Monday’s 12-9 loss to the Saints. “No matter how much you push, no matter how much you ice, the anti‐ inflammatory you take. Trust me, I’ve done it. Acupuncture, massages. There’s not a night that goes by without me getting some type of work done on my arm. You just don’t have the strength. From the range of motion, you work on the range of motion then come game time and you never know how the game can play out. Of course you try to stay under 25-30 throws, but if you surpass that or you get hit on it or you have to run or you get tackled and fall on your shoulder, certain things happen. That’s the game of football. As far as stiffness, just muscle tension, there’s a lot going on. At the end of the day it’s not something that hasn’t got worse over the weeks or hasn’t got better over the weeks. It’s just been the same.”
Newton said his inability to put in a full week of practice has been “disheartening” but he doesn’t want to play the “‘woe is me’ game.”
“I have to be better,” he said. “That’s what’s so frustrating. When you want it so bad and you push. You put so much on your plate and you know it doesn’t come down to you, but at the end of the day you just have to uphold your end of the bargain. When certain things don’t happen, that’s when frustration comes. That’s why I’m frustrated. It’s not necessarily about practice, which it is to a degree, but when you’ve been doing something over a certain time you kind of get in a regimen of when you’re supposed to do certain things. Obviously my arm hasn’t allowed me to do a lot of practice. I’ve been on a pitch count for a long time, but at the end of the day it is what it is. That’s not a scapegoat. That’s not something that I want people to bail me out on. It’s just something that is reality.”
Newton continues to deny that the pain in his shoulder is affecting his throws, but the eyeball test applied over the course of the season suggests otherwise. And it’s clear there’s an issue that has yet to be resolved.
“I think the thing is when you talk to the different people who can help you with it, there is no magical surgery,” Newton said. “It’s just time. I’ve been hearing that since the injury happened, but when you look around the league and you see guys doing certain things that you know you’re capable of doing, whatever it is. I feel as if this team has everything that it needs to go to the next level. Even with me and the position that I am in, it still didn’t come down to my arm tonight. It still comes down to execution.”
With the Panthers now at 6-8 and virtually eliminated from postseason consideration, Newton was asked whether he’s considering sitting out.
“That’s not on me,” Newton said. “My job is to do the things that I can control and for me at this particular point in time, I don’t have an answer for you. I know, and I’ll make public, that I have tried and done everything. I think the frustration, like I said before, comes when no matter what you do — you can rub magic dust on it, go to this or that person, have the placebo things done where you think certain things are what they are — and you come out and you’re still the same. Like I said, over the past couple of weeks nothing has really changed.”
Newton said he’s not looking forward to the conversation regarding whether he’d sit out, and he said “I don’t know” when asked whether it would bother him to not play. He also was asked about the possibility of surgery.
“I don’t know,” Newton said. “At this particular point, I don’t know. I’ve been eager . . . to find out what it is. . . . It is what it is. It is what we expect it to be. It’s not getting better, it’s not getting worse. It’s just a lot of soreness and tension in the joints.”
Whatever it is, the sooner they figure out what needs to be done and the sooner they start doing it, the better off Newton and the Panthers will be. Rest, surgery, whatever; get it started now so he’ll be good to go when the offseason program begins.
Assuming he’ll be good to go when the offseason program begins.