With so much attention being paid in recent days to the injury to Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Dolphins replacing him with Jay Cutler, little attention has been paid to the other NFL quarterbacks dealing with injuries during training. One such quarterback is Carolina Panthers signal caller Cam Newton, who has seen limited action during training camp, as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. On Tuesday, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said Newton would not play in the team’s first preseason game this week. At the moment, there’s no specific timeline for when Newton will appear in a preseason game.
Newton suffered a partial tear of the rotator cuff in his right shoulder in Week 14 of last season. Despite the injury, Newton continued to play for the remainder of the season. However, his practice and workout routines had to be modified over the final three weeks of the season. Newton planned to rehab the injury during the offseason. However, he then underwent surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff on March 30 after experiencing pain during his rehabilitation. At the time, the Panthers were hopeful he’d be fully recovered by the start of training camp.
Full recovery from rotator cuff surgery can take anywhere from four to six months, depending on the severity of the tear. Right now, Newton is a little more than four months removed from surgery, so it should not come as a surprise that he’s not ready to take the field yet.
The plan that Carolina trainers put forth for Newton involved him throwing for the first time 12 weeks after the surgery. That would have put him on track to be fully ready for training camp. Things have not unfolded as planned, however. Newton reported soreness in his throwing shoulder at practice a week ago, prompting the Panthers to remove him from any throwing drills. He’s done only light throwing on the side over the past week and a half.
It’s important to keep in mind that a rotator cuff injury is perfectly normal for someone like Newton. Any athlete who throws a ball overhand, most notably, pitchers in baseball and football quarterbacks, is susceptible to the injury. Newton has gained a reputation as an iron man over the course of his six seasons in the NFL. He’s missed just three games in those six years. Missing a game or two, possibly more, at the start of the 2017 season can not be ruled out.
Even with close medical attention from top-notch doctors, it looks as though Newton may need more time to fully recover. Unfortunately, the extent of the tear to Newton’s shoulder is unknown. This makes it difficult to predict a return date.
At this stage in his career, Newton would likely be able to play in a regular season game with limited snaps during the preseason. However, the Panthers aren’t going to risk playing Newton until he’s able to throw without shoulder soreness. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when that day will come. Fortunately, the Panthers have longtime backup Derek Anderson available to lead them into the 2017 season, just in case Newton isn’t fully recovered by Week 1.