December 17, 2014

Cam Newton returns to Panthers' practice

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton returned to the practice field Wednesday for the first time since sustaining two fractures in his lower back during a two-car accident last week in Charlotte.

Backup quarterback Derek Anderson received more reps than Newton during the 30-minute portion of the practice that was open to the media. But Newton looked limber and threw with a fluid passing motion while participating in all of the drills.

After the Panthers broke following their team stretch, Newton sprinted to the other practice field, beating all of his offensive teammates.

Newton handed the ball off, kept the ball on two zone-read plays and threw a 60-yard pass that practice-squad receiver Stephen Hill could not run down. Newton also playfully caught a one-handed pass.


Newton sat out last week's 19-17 win against Tampa Bay, the second game he's missed in his four-year career. He was sidelined for a Week 1 win against the Bucs with cracked ribs.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said earlier this week he would only play Newton in Sunday's game against Cleveland if he's confident Newton can protect himself.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on December 17, 2014 at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

December 15, 2014

Rivera: Newton will play if he can protect himself

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he will only play Cam Newton this week if he's confident his injured quarterback can protect himself against the Cleveland Browns.

Newton sat out Sunday's win against Tampa Bay after sustaining two fractures in his lower back during a two-car accident last week in Charlotte. Newton stood on the sideline during the game, cheering on No. 2 quarterback Derek Anderson.

Rivera said there's a rehab progression that doctors and trainers have laid out for Newton, and his status will be determined based on whether he meets those goals.

But Rivera said ultimately it will come down the coach's confidence that he won't be exposing Newton to further injury by playing him against the Browns.

"I don’t want to put a guy out there that can’t protect himself," Rivera said Monday. "By that it’s being able to run out of the way, scramble out of the way, stay alive, keep the play alive by being able to get away. That’s all part of it. That’s all part of the decision that went into the first Tampa Bay game."

Newton was sidelined for the Week 1 win at Tampa Bay with cracked ribs, despite lobbying Rivera to let him play.

Anderson is 2-0 this season while filling in for Newton in the only two games Newton has missed in his four-year career.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on December 15, 2014 at 01:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)

December 14, 2014

DeAngelo Williams inactive vs. Bucs

Running back DeAngelo Williams will miss his second consecutive game with a broken bone in his right hand.

The Panthers listed Williams as inactive versus the Buccaneers, which the Panthers expected to do all week.

Quarterback Cam Newton, who had been listed as out, is also inactive. The hope is he will be healthy enough to play next week against the Browns.

Cornerback James Dockery, safety Robert Lester, tackle David Foucault, guard Amini Silatolu (knee) and defensive tackle Micanor Regis are also inactive.

Linebacker Kevin Reddick, who was brought up from the practice squad Saturday, will play in his first game with the Panthers.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on December 14, 2014 at 11:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

December 11, 2014

Cam Newton thankful to be alive

A thankful Cam Newton addressed the media Thursday for the first time since his two-car accident, saying he's thankful to be alive.

The Carolina Panthers franchise quarterback sustained two fractures in his lower back, but is otherwise OK following the Tuesday afternoon wreck in uptown Charlotte that left Newton's pickup truck totaled.

"I'm on somebody's fantasy league, and I think it's the man upstairs," said Newton, who wore a blue hoodie and leaned on the podium during his seven-minute press conference.

"As far as when I'm coming back, who cares?" Newton said. "I'm just thankful that I have breath in my lungs."

Newton will miss Sunday's game against Tampa Bay, and said he didn't want his situation to become a distraction for the Panthers.

Newton was at Bank of America Stadium early Thursday to begin treatment and attend positional meetings.

Newton said seeing pictures of his 1998 Dodge Ram, with its smashed cab on the passenger's side, make him realize how fortunate he was.

"Every time I see that flashback of looking at that truck, I'm surprised that nothing serious was done to me," he said. "I'm just lucky to come out of there unscathed."

Newton said he never lost consciousness during the wreck, which occurred at the intersection of Church and Hill streets a block from the Panthers' stadium.

Newton was traveling south on Church when he saw the other driver, Nestor Pellot Jr., pull out and attempt to cross Chuch in a Buick sedan. Newton said he attempted to avoid Pellot's car, but the Buick "clipped the back of my truck."

Newton said the airbags deployed in his truck, and he sustained no external cuts or injuries.

"I really couldn't talk afterwards because I was in such shock," Newton said. "I got myself out the truck, and I couldn't stop smiling. ...

"I'm looking at this truck and I'm like, 'Somebody's supposed to be dead.' And I just can't stop smiling because it's like, God has his hands on me."

--Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on December 11, 2014 at 03:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Playoffs? Panthers mail out postseason ticket info

Fresh off their first victory in more than two months, the Carolina Panthers are mailing playoff ticket information this week, as mandated by the NFL.

In an email sent Thursday, the Panthers notified their season ticket-holders they can reserve tickets through a "Pay as we Play" option, which doesn't require any up-front payments.

Fans are required to fill out their playoff ticket requests before Dec. 26, but would not be charged unless and until the Panthers win the NFC South, a division that will not have anyone with a winning record.

The Panthers (4-8-1) trail Atlanta (5-8) and New Orleans (5-8) by a half-game in the division, with three games remaining.

The Panthers are trying to make it to the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time in their 20-year history.

"Hopefully, it's a wonderful option for people. We're not asking them to do anything. It's a very effective way we feel that rewards our fans," Panthers chief revenue officer Phil Youtsey said Thursday. "If we have a playoff game, they'll get charged. If we don't, they don't."

The Panthers hammered the Saints 41-10 last weekend to snap a seven-game winless streak that dated to Oct. 5. They face Tampa Bay (2-11) on Sunday at home.

"We're a half-game out of first place. We have to go," Youtsey added. "If things fall right, you never know."

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on December 11, 2014 at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Newton back at the Panthers' facilities Thursday morning

Less than a day after being discharged from the hospital, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was at the team facilities in meetings and getting treatment.

A team source within the Panthers’ facilities told the Observer Newton was in Bank of America Stadium Thursday morning, one day after he stayed at home with his family to rest and recuperate after being discharged.

Newton was involved in a two-car collision late Tuesday that sent him to Carolinas Medical Center with fractures in his lower back. He was also stiff and sore upon leaving the hospital Wednesday, and that was expected to be the case for at least a week.

On Wednesday night, Newton posted a picture to Instagram showing his totaled 1998 Dodge Ram truck. Below the picture he posted a message to his fans telling them to appreciate every day and thanking them for their prayers and well wishes.



I do not know where to begin because by the look of that picture soMEone is supposed to be dead or severely injured worse than what I am right now! While I am resting up the thought that keeps flashing in my mind is that GOD IS GOOD and someone has there protective hands on my life shielding me from any danger that may come my way! I know one thing, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF "IF" you are holding a grudge against someone, "IF" you don't tell the people that's close and dear to you that "YOU LOVE THEM" every chance you get, "IF" your mad because something didn't go your way today! L1FE IS TO SHORT FOR YOU NOT TO APPRECIATE IT TO THE FULLNESS; THROUGH THE GOOD AND THE BAD! I thank you to the people who have been keeping me in there prayers and well wishes for a speedy recovery! I am appreciative for the many great things GOD has given me to be thankful for. It's a old cliché statement but it says "GOD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS!" And as that crash constantly plays back in my mind every time I close my eyes, I can't go another day without me THANKING GOD for the opportunities he has given me in my life and this accident puts ALOT of things in perspective of what's important and what's not! SHAMEonYOU if YOU go another second in life with holding a grudge or HATING on someone, taking life for granted, or just not appreciating the breath you just breathed; trust and believe there are plenty people with illnesses, people in the hospital, or even people that are 6ft under the earth that W1SH they had "another"opportunity to do so! So if you read this I challenge you to L1VE life to the fullness everyday! 1OVE the people who are close to you (and don't be afraid to tell them as well)! FORG1VE "whoever" for "whatever" they did! Trust when I tell you that L1FE is to short for you NOT to do those things! #THANKyouJESUSforALLOWINGmeTOseeANOTHERday L1VE-1OVE-FORG1VE=HAPP1NESS

A photo posted by Cam Newton (@cameron1newton) on Dec 12, 2014 at 4:46pm PST

The Panthers will start Derek Anderson at quarterback Sunday against Tampa Bay. Newton will be inactive for the game, but the hope is he’ll be able to manage the pain in his lower back enough to start and play effectively next week against the Browns.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on December 11, 2014 at 08:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

December 09, 2014

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton injured in uptown Charlotte accident

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was taken by ambulance to a hospital at 12:50 p.m. Tuesday after a truck crashed and overturned on the Church Street bridge over Interstate 277.

Newton, lying prone in black workout clothes, was treated on a sidewalk along the bridge for at least 20 minutes before a Medic ambulance took him away.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police spokesman Rob Tufano said Newton was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A second person, from the second vehicle, was taken by ambulance to a hospital about 10 minutes before Newton.

A witness, Tony Douglas, said he was walking on Church Street toward the Transportation Center when he saw a Buick sedan and the Dodge truck collide.

Douglas said the truck was heading south on Church and the sedan was crossing Church from Hill Street when they hit.

The truck flipped several times, he said, coming to rest on its passenger side. Douglas said he ran to the truck and saw the quarterback inside.

Afterward, he said, Newton “was alert. He was in pain.”

The Buick’s driver, writhing in pain on the sidewalk, told police that he was crossing Church Street when a truck “came flying down” the street and struck him.

Both Newton and the other driver were placed on backboards and in neck braces before being transported by ambulance.

The Buick Verano with temporary Georgia license tags later sat in Church Street near its intersection with Hill Street. It had been struck on the front-right side, with the hood buckled and bumper torn off.

The truck also had extensive front-right damage. The passenger compartment was partially flattened.

Rescuers closed outbound Church Street at Stonewall.

- The Charlotte Observer

Posted by Observer staff on December 9, 2014 at 01:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 04, 2014

Davis: Saints tried to run up the score last season

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis says the New Orleans Saints tried to run the score up on the Panthers last year at the end of the Saints' 31-13 win in New Orleans last December.

"They got a big lead on us and they were still dropping back trying to throw the ball deep. That speaks volumes when you have a team down and it's late in the fourth quarter and you're still trying to throw the ball deep," Davis told reporters Thursday.

"That's their offense. That's their team. They can run it, do whatever they want to do. But that's a sign of disrespect."

Davis has had issues with the Saints in the past, saying they were trying to set individual records at the end of a 45-17 win against Carolina in the regular-season finale in 2011.

As far as the game in New Orleans last season, the Saints led 24-6 when they got the ball back early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Drew Brees was 6-of-8 on the Saints' scoring drive, culminating with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham that put the Saints up 31-6.

After the Panthers scored on a long touchdown drive on their next possession to make it 31-13, the Saints went three-and-out, with passes called on two of the three plays.

On third-and-24, Brees threw a check-down pass to running back Pierre Thomas, who came up well short of the first down.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn't take issue with the Saints' end-of-game approach, saying, "That's some people's philosophy."

Asked if he planned to remind his players what the Saints did at the end of last year's game, Rivera said: "I don't need to."

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on December 4, 2014 at 03:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (18)

December 02, 2014

Panthers waive Cason; third veteran to go

The Carolina Panthers have jettisoned another underperforming veteran, waiving cornerback Antoine Cason on Tuesday, according to team and league sources.

Cason, who signed a one-year deal for the league minimum in March, follows the recent releases of defensive back Charles Godfrey and wide receiver Jason Avant.

The Panthers will activate rookie cornerbacks Carrington Byndom from the practice squad to take Cason's spot, according to a league source.

Byndom will give Carolina three rookies in the secondary, along with corner Bene' Benwikere and safety Tre Boston.

Cason was one of several defensive backs signed during the offseason as general manager Dave Gettleman tried to rebuild a secondary that lost four of its top five players from last year's 12-4 team.

Cason started 11 of 12 games, but was among the lowest-rated cornerbacks in the league by Pro Football Focus, an NFL analytics site.

PFF ranked Cason 111th out of 117 cornerbacks overall, and 116th in terms of coverage.

After giving up a touchdown catch in Sunday's loss at Minnesota, Cason was benched in favor of Benwikere, the fifth-round pick expected to take over Cason's spot full-time.

Cason was 8th among corners in the latest Pro Bowl balloting that was announced last week, despite allowing quarterbacks to complete 57 of 71 passes against him for an 80.3 completion percentage and 122.2 passer rating.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on December 2, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (39)

December 01, 2014

Rivera backs special teams coach after meltdown vs. Vikings

A day after the Panthers ran their winless streak to seven games, Ron Rivera said Monday he wasn't quitting on the season and has no plans to make any staff changes.

The Panthers had two punts blocked and returned for touchdowns in the first half of the 31-13 loss to Minnesota, a feat that hadn't occurred in a quarter-century.

But Rivera, the Panthers' fourth-year coach, expressed confidence in special teams coordinator Richard Rodgers, Rivera's teammate at Cal who had never held an NFL coaching job until Rivera hired in 2012.

Asked if he still had faith in Rodgers, Rivera said: "Yeah, why wouldn't I?"

The Panthers' special teams have languished for much of the season, but never as glaringly as during the loss against the Vikings. The blocked punts and ensuing returns put the Panthers in a 21-3 hole.

The Panthers (3-8-1) haven't won since Oct. 5 against Chicago. Their seven-game winless stretch is tied for the third-longest in team history.

The loss at Minnesota assured the Panthers of a losing season and continues their streak of never posting back-to-back winning years in their 20-year history. Rivera was AP Coach of the Year and received a three-year contract extension in January after leading the Panthers to a 12-4 regular-season finish in 2013.

"Last year was good enough but apparently this year was not. I get that. You are what you are now. This is a game of now. And I get that. Coaches understand that, players understand that," Rivera said.

"But let’s not give up on something. We look at these things and say you got to do this, you got to do this. We’re not going to do anything knee-jerk. We’re going to go through the process, guys.

"Understand that. A year ago it was good enough and this year it’s not. Well then we’ve got to find out why and what happened."

--Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones


Posted by Observer Sports on December 1, 2014 at 01:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)