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Cam Newton’s mid-foot sprain doesn’t seem likely to keep him out for much longer.
The Carolina Panthers’ star quarterback was seen at team facilities on Sunday without a walking boot that he had been wearing since leaving Thursday’s preseason game.
Head coach Ron Rivera had a simple message for what the removal of the boot tells the team: “It means he’s progressing.”
“So far, so good,” Rivera added, via NFL.com. “Every day he progresses. Every day it’s been positive. Each day it's about how he feels when he gets up, and so far it was good this morning and we'll continue (rehab).”
The Panthers were “cautiously optimistic” that Newton would be ready to compete in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams, and this next step makes his return feel all the more close.
Former NFL team doctor David Chao opined on Friday that Newton would need to be out of a walking boot by Thursday to safely play in the season opener, so Newton would appear to be ahead of schedule.
He’s not expected to play in the Panthers’ final preseason game on Thursday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he likely would not have played more than a series even if he were healthy. The fourth and final preseason game is notorious for starters resting.
Why did the Panthers allow Newton to take hits?
If anything, Newton’s injury begs the question of why teams bother to play their stars at all during the preseason. Players hoping to make the cut are playing as hard as ever, and with no wins on the line, why risk injury in an inherently dangerous sport?
The play on which Newton got hurt was not anything out of the ordinary. He stepped up in the pocket, danced around pressure and was eventually brought down by Adam Butler, falling awkwardly on his left foot.
The Panthers are staying cautious with Newton, especially considering he missed the last two weeks of 2018 with a shoulder injury. The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue relayed on Saturday that the quarterback could take reps as soon as Monday.
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