What if I told you a month ago that Cam Newton would miss the majority of Carolina Panthers training camp due to a sore shoulder? Not great news, right? Well, it soon could happen. A story that no one really wants to talk about as of today remains a very real possibility.
When training camp opened last month, Cam Newton looked close to his old self. For five days he threw the ball pretty well, sticking to mainly short and intermediate passes down field. All seemed well for the Carolina Panthers. Just as they said, Newton was ready for training camp.
Then, a setback. Newton was no longer throwing in practice. At the time, this was not concerning. After all, Newton was recovering from shoulder surgery on this throwing arm. Some level of soreness was to be expected. The Carolina Panthers knew this would happen, but I’m not so sure they planned on the extent of Newton’s time off. If the Panthers foresaw Newton missing entire weeks of practice, they likely would have said so this offseason. Better to get ahead of the story than behind it.
Newton will miss the first preseason game of the year on Wednesday against the Houston Texans. Then, the Carolina Panthers have a day off. If Newton still is not throwing the ball on Friday the level of concern should sky rocket. Cam Newton will have missed close to two consecutive weeks of practice and the majority of training camp in Spartanburg. Not great news for a quarterback with a new offense and receivers.
All of this after only five days of light to intermediate throwing.
But would Ron Rivera actually hold Newton out of the season opener against San Francisco? You only need to look back to the 2014 season for that answer.
In 2014, Cam Newton was recovering from an offseason ankle surgery. He was thought to be ready for training camp, and indeed he was. Newton practiced through pain and even played in the preseason games. A shot to the ribs in New England ended Newton’s preseason playing time, but still he practiced. He threw.
Then, Carolina Panthers shocked everyone by not starting Cam Newton in Tampa Bay for the season opener. This was not thought possible at the time. Newton had been practicing all week, any mention of the starting quarterback being benched was dismissed as a smokescreen. As it so happens, Ron Rivera felt Derek Anderson could handle the season opener on the road against an inferior opponent.
Season opener, Derek Anderson, on the road, against an inferior opponent. Sound familiar? It should. It is the exact same situation the Panthers face in 2017.
At this point, assuming Cam Newton will be 100% only a month from now is starting to seem like wishful thinking. His shoulder will continue to go through periods of soreness as the number of reps and intensity of throws increase.
If there is any doubt about the health of Newton’s shoulder, Ron Rivera will sit his starting quarterback against San Francisco. You may want to brace yourself for that possibility now.