Cam's Shoulder Not Tested

Brett Jensen
September 08, 2019 - 7:52 pm

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Even though the Carolina Panthers played four preseason games, it was still unclear just how healthy Cam Newton's throwing shoulder really is following his offseason surgery.

And after the first game of the 2019 season, it's still not known publicly how Newton's right shoulder feels.

Newton kept his passes short and the offense was mostly conservative. Had it not been for the stellar play of running back Christian McCaffrey, things likely would've been worse than the 30-27 victory by the Los Angeles Rams in the season opener Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

Newton only attempted one pass that considered to be a true downfield throw, and that was for only about 25 yards. It went over the head of Curtis Samuel by five yards on a very key third-down play in the fourth quarter.

Newton completed 25 passes, but they went for a scant 239 yards. He also had an interception.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton wasn't limited one bit by his shoulder.

"He still can throw it deep," Rivera said. "It's just what he decides. He sees things and he had to decide whether he wants to. But he had an opportunity to throw it long and deep to Curtis, and he overthrew him. I'm not concerned about any of that stuff."

Newton was asked directly about his shoulder and why all but one or two passes were short attempts.

"I'm not going to get into any philosophical discussion about throwing the ball downfield because that's not what this game is about," he said. "I go through the specific reads in a timely manner and that's how I always play."

"You don't say to Coach, 'Let's throw the ball deep and see what that gets us.' That's not our mentality."

The only other pass by Newton that can be considered downfield was one where he overthrew a wide-open Greg Olsen on the right sideline.

Newton said he has to be more accurate.

"When we do throw the ball downfield ... I have to get (Samuel) a better ball, be more accurate and just settle in."

Carolina (0-1) is going to need Newton to be more accurate when throwing deep, for sure. To rely on McCaffrey to perform like he did against the Rams on a continuous basis and hope that's enough to get the win likely isn't a solid game plan.

The offense was basically nonexistent the first two-and-a-half quarters, but then it kicked into full gear thanks to McCaffrey doing nearly everything.

.@run__cmc is straight BALLIN' today#KeepPounding pic.twitter.com/Bbby1cljPH

-- Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) September 8, 2019

The third-year running back had 19 carries for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 10 catches for 81 yards.

"Guys just making plays," he said when asked what the difference was from the first to the second half. "The team that stays poised and limits the self-inflicted wounds, that's usually the team that wins. We've got to get back to the drawing board, see what we did well, see what we didn't and go from there."

But even when the offense was finally clicking, the defense of the Panthers had a hard time slowing down Los Angeles (1-0), especially on third down.

The Rams converted 9-of-17 third downs into first downs (53%) to extend the drives, many of which led to points.

"I feel like they started figuring out what we were doing on third down," Carolina cornerback James Bradberry said. "We've just got to take advantage of opportunities and make plays no matter what is called on the play. We've got to be tighter on the coverages."

Carolina has a quick turnaround as it only has two days of practice before playing at home Thursday night on national TV against Tampa Bay.

Most will be watching to see if Newton tries to go deep or if it's a mirror image of Sunday.

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