Cam Newton isn’t just dealing with his surgically repaired ankle. The Carolina Panthers quarterback has two bad wheels right now.
Newton is nursing a right foot injury the Panthers training staff believes might be the result of compensating for the lingering soreness in his left ankle, a source told FOX Sports. The combination of lower-leg issues could explain why Newton has appeared to be sluggish, particularly on Monday night while he was trying to escape Philadelphia Eagles pass rushers during a 45-21 loss for the Panthers.
"That ain’t the same Killa Cam," former Panthers wide receiver and current New England Patriot Brandon LaFell tweeted during the game. "Gotta get healthy."
Newton was limping for much of the game and jogged gingerly to and from the sideline between series. Following one of the Eagles’ nine sacks of him, Newton was stretching his groin or hamstring area, so he might have tweaked a muscle in that region as well.
Newton threw the first of three interceptions and DeAngelo Williams lost a fumble on Carolina’s first three plays from scrimmage. The turnovers led to 10 points for the Eagles. Newton finished 25 of 40 for 306 yards and two fourth-quarter TDs to Kelvin Benjamin. More tellingly, Newton ran for only 6 yards.
"I have to protect the football better," Newton said. "I can’t throw the football up for grabs and have to understand the difference between giving my guys a chance or opportunity and risking the football. In the pocket, man I got to do better."
This has been an injury-plagued year for Newton dating to his ankle surgery in the spring, a procedure he acknowledged recently was "bigger than I thought." He also suffered a rib injury in the preseason, which led to his being inactive for the Panthers’ season-opening win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In addition to those ailments, Newton is battling a thumb issue on his throwing hand that’s forced him to wrap it during games.
Newton’s foot issue hasn’t been listed on the team’s injury report. He hasn’t missed practice time for any injuries since September.
Newton is on pace to come in below last year’s mark of 585 yards rushing, which was the lowest of his first three NFL seasons.