Tuesday afternoon, the Carolina Panthers placed quarterback Cam Newton on Injured Reserve and officially ended his season. He is scheduled to miss the final eight games of the year and will only be eligible to return to the roster if the Panthers secure a spot in the playoffs. The team now belongs to backup Kyle Allen.
When this news broke, there was a range of reactions. Some viewed it as the end of Newton's tenure with the team and laid out the expectation that he will be moving on following the season. Others, however, expressed their belief that he will be the starting quarterback for the Panthers in 2020 and potentially even longer if he plays his way into a new contract.
For the players on the roster, however, this news was unfortunate, but they couldn't truly dwell on the fact that Newton isn't available. After all, he has been out of the lineup since week three while they have been striving to keep pace with the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints.
As roster members Jarius Wright, Bruce Irvin, and Tre Boston explained to the Panthers' team reporter, they love and support Newton in his recovery. However, they have other things to focus on at the moment. Specifically, the Green Bay Packers.
(Photo Credit: Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service/Getty)
“I’ve talked about how much we love Cam, how we’re friends on and off the field,” Jarius Wright said, per the Panthers website. “It’s bittersweet. You get the bitter of not having a guy you love to be around, not having one of your friends out there with you, but the sweet part is a guy like Kyle Allen gets the chance to be the guy he is.”
A former member of the Minnesota Vikings, Wright joined the Panthers in 2018. He wasn't the team's leading receiver, but he still served as a reliable third-down option for Newton. He finished his first season with the team with 43 receptions for 447 yards and one touchdown.
Kyle Allen: “It’s tough to see Cam go on IR with how hard he’s worked. He looked great in training camp. I feel for him. Behind the scenes he’s working his ass off every day. I know he’ll handle it well.”— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) November 6, 2019
All along, the Panthers coaching staff has been telling Kyle Allen that this is his team. It didn't matter that Newton could possibly be returning at any point; they wanted the backup-turned-starter to have confidence that he was a trusted figure.
"To see him play through the shoulder injury all year and see how hard he worked to get ready each week to play, then the rehab this offseason to get ready to come back this year,” Allen said on Wednesday. “Then to have something else happen to his foot – not even the same injury. I feel for him. It’s tough for a competitor like him who has been on top his whole career."
Edge rusher Bruce Irvin is a newer addition to the team after joining the Panthers in March, but he is a veteran that has seen Newton from afar throughout his eight-year career. What he learned is that the former first overall pick is an extremely talented player. Still, that doesn't change the immediate future.
“Nothing changes. Now we know officially Cam isn’t coming back,” Irvin said. “We trust in ‘7.’ It’s an unfortunate situation for Cam. He’s a hell of a player. But life goes on. He knows that, we know that. ‘7’ is the guy now and we’ve got complete faith in him. I’m behind him.”
Similar to Bruce Irvin, safety Tre Boston only joined the Panthers during the offseason. However, he very familiar with Newton considering that he started his career in Carolina. Boston was a member of Carolina's defense in 2014-2016 and helped the team reach Super Bowl 50 in 2015.
“It’s kind of like we’re going on with our day, because we knew Kyle was starting this week and each week it’s just been like we’re ready to roll with Kyle,” Boston said. “Only you guys are ready for the, 'Cam’s back!' We love Kyle, we love what he’s done for us, we love that he’s going to be able to finish the season.”
While wide receiver Jarius Wright could deal with some chemistry changes considering that Kyle Allen and Cam Newton are different quarterbacks, there are other members of the roster that won't be affected. For right guard Trai Turner, his job doesn't change. He still has to block for his quarterback, whether it's Newton or Allen.
“I can only speak for me, but I don’t really think there’s too much of a difference,” Turner said. “Whoever’s playing that week is going to play their hardest. I’m not going to block any harder for whoever’s in there. I just hope the Cam gets well soon and Kyle keeps progressing.”
Ron Rivera on Cam Newton... pic.twitter.com/TqSohvPeJy— Steve Reed (@SteveReedAP) November 6, 2019
When head coach Ron Rivera met with the media on Wednesday, he started his presser by explaining that Cam Newton is a hard worker that has tirelessly attacked his recovery. Unfortunately for the Panthers, he didn't make as much progress as initially expected. That's what sparked the trip to Green Bay to meet with a foot specialist.
"We feel right now, probably the best thing was to put him on IR and move forward," Rivera said on Wednesday. "That's where we are with it, guys. I really appreciate everything Cam does and appreciate that he's still here, he wants to be around."
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Being placed on Injured Reserve was not an ideal situation for Cam Newton and the Panthers, but the former first overall pick (2011) is not letting the circumstances get him down. Instead, he is choosing to focus on his rehab and getting better for the future.
"Charlotte & Panthers will forever be in my heart!!" Newton wrote on Instagram in response to the team. "I will work my tail off to be stronger, faster, SMARTER, and ACCURATER for you guys!! Until then I will continue to support the hell out of the @panthers and for @kyle_allen & @willgrier7!!"
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