Panthers Facing Questions About Cam Newton's Quick Return

Cam Newton crumples trying to leave field in scary scene

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In the fourth quarter of the Panthers' wild-card game in New Orleans on Sunday, Cam Newton was drilled by defensive tackle David Onyemata, a sudden shot to the head that blindsided Newton, who was trying to escape other onrushers.

"He took a knee because they told him to take a knee so we could get the official timeout and Derek [Anderson] could warm up, " Hurney said when explaining why Newton went to the ground while coming off the field.

The NFL and NFLPA determined the Panthers properly followed the protocol in that case. The league and players' union conducted probes previous year after Newton took a hard hit to the head late in the season opener at Denver but did not come out of the game.

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Newton finished the game as the Panthers lost, 31-26, at the Superdome and saw their season end. Any player showing "gross or sustained vertical instability" following a hit is now required to be evaluated for a concussion in the locker room, according to the NFL's updated concussion protocol. Changes to the league's protocol - including the addition of a centralized unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant at the NFL office to monitor games - were spurred by the Savage hit.

According to the National Football League, this required the player to be removed from the field for examination in a locker room.

"Based on what the young man (Newton) said to me, that is what I believe happened", Rivera said. Newton later said he did NOT feel like he had a concussion, but suffered an eye injury from his helmet slipping down.

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This is not the first time the Panthers' handling of Newton has come under scrutiny. Although Newton had eight carries for 37 yards, he threw the ball 40 times, and the Saints feel better about him throwing than running. He was surprised to see Newton return to the game, he said. I hate that I couldn't do enough to get a win today for a lot of guys that I think so highly of. "We romped him good". But again, I'm not the doctor.

When a reported noted that Jordan's sauce comment was a callback to Newton's joke, Jordan said, "Petty, right?"

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