• 66°

Rivera: Newton not injured

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera walked into his news conference Tuesday and, before taking any questions, looked directly at reporters and said “No, he’s not injured.”

Rivera did his best to dispute published reports that two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Cam Newton was injured during Carolina’s lopsided 45-21 loss to Philadelphia on Monday night.

Rivera said he’s spoken to trainers who informed him that Newton is “fine” despite being sacked a career-high nine times.

“I’m not sure where all that came from — but put it to rest,” Rivera said. “He said it at his press conference after the game, he’s fine. I’m taking him for his word. … The doctors have nothing on it. The trainers have nothing on it.”

That’s a small piece of good news for a Carolina team mired in a four-game losing streak and 1-6-1 in its past eight games.

Players had Tuesday off and Newton wasn’t available for comment.

“I’m great. That’s not going to be a distraction,” Newton said after the game in Philadelphia. “Yeah, I got hit a lot, but it’s all in the game. We’re not playing ballet. We’re not running track or anything. This is a physical sport. It’s what you sign up for.”

Newton has surgery on his ankle in March, but offensive coordinator Mike Shula said he doesn’t see anything different about Newton’s mobility, even though it appears he has lacked explosiveness and the ability to escape in the pocket.

“He’s gotten healthier as the season has gone by, and I think he’s probably looked like he’s looked the past couple of years at this time,” Shula said. “He had a couple of fast guys chasing him, that’s all.”

Rivera kept Newton in the game even with the Panthers down 38 points to the Eagles in the fourth quarter.

He said the team needed to develop some cohesiveness on offense moving forward. Newton threw two late touchdowns to Kelvin Benjamin with the outcome already determined.

Rivera said he hasn’t given up on the season, even as he and the Panthers (3-6-1) face criticism on local sports talk radio.

“I know there is a sense of panic, but I’m not going there,” Rivera said.

He added that despite the defeat, the Panthers are “on the cusp” of turning things around and suggested they can still win the NFC South, where they are a half-game behind division-leading New Orleans (4-5).

The Panthers still control their playoff destiny — even though they don’t look anything like a playoff team.

If there’s some positive news for the Panthers moving forward it’s that their schedule gets significantly easier after going 0-4-1 against five playoff teams from last season. They only face one team with a winning record the rest of the season — the Cleveland Browns.

Rivera was an assistant coach with the 2008 San Diego Chargers, a team that started 4-8, but the made the playoffs after winning its final four games.

“I have been through this before, and I know what it is like,” Rivera said. “So we’re mirroring that (Chargers’ team), but at the same time we have to start making hay. Eventually everyone is going to start righting the ship and if we’re not where we need to be then that is going to pass us up.”

The Panthers won the division with a 12-4 record last season.

But this year’s team hasn’t resembled that club in any stretch.

Aside from their struggles protecting Newton and running, the Panthers have given up more points in 10 games than they did in 16 games last season.

“Everyone wants to compare us with last year’s team but this isn’t last year’s team,” left tackle Byron Bell said after the game. “This is a new team. We have to continue to grow, learn one another. There is always room for improvement.”

NOTES: Rivera said starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei had an MRI on his left ankle which revealed no significant damage. He expects Lotulelei to miss Sunday’s game at Atlanta and return after the bye week. … Rivera also said he expects nickel back Bene Benwikere to return to practice Wednesday.

Comments

Crime

Man receives consecutive prison sentences for sex offenses

BREAKING NEWS

RSS Board of Education approves Faith Elementary sale

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department receives 400 Pfizer, 800 Johnson & Johnson vaccines for week

Crime

Blotter: Accident in Food Lion only weekend shooting to produce injuries

Crime

Salisbury man charged with felony drug crimes

Crime

Second person charged in thefts from house near county line

Crime

Police use tear gas to end robbery stand off, arrest suspect

Local

Ask Us: When will Rowan Public Library’s West Branch open?

Nation/World

Prosecution case nears end in ex-cop’s trial in Floyd death

Nation/World

Officer accused of force in stop of Black Army officer fired

Crime

Blotter: Man charged with hitting man with car, fleeing while intoxicated

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, professionals reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School