Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is reportedly tired of answering questions about Cam Newton every time he takes to the podium, which is one reason why he walked out of a press conference in September. The belief was that putting the quarterback on Injured Reserve would put an end to the constant queries, but that wasn't the case. Rivera was greeted with new questions about Newton's status during his most recent media availability, and he responded with a very blunt answer.
Wednesday afternoon, Rivera was asked by reporters if Newton will be returning from IR if the team makes the playoffs. Given that the Wild Card round is eight weeks away from the moment the QB was shelved, the timeline is fitting. However, that didn't mean Rivera was happy about being asked about any potential returns.
“Just so everyone understands, that question will not be addressed until it’s time to address," Rivera said after cutting a reporter off before he could finish his query. "OK? So at the end of the day, he’s on IR. Alright? Kyle Allen is our quarterback. Thank you.”
Rivera appeared frustrated with multiple questions about Newton, primarily because they were asked after he made an opening statement about his QB and then said that he wanted to answer questions about the Green Bay Packers. However, the observations about Aaron Rodgers and the offense were bookended by reporters seeking clarification about whether or not Newton would be making a return if the Panthers secure a spot in the playoffs.
Whether it was the reporters asking about Newton instead of the Packers or the simple fact that Rivera would have to address potentially being active during a playoff game, the head coach made it clear that he didn't want to discuss the matter. Getting the Panthers a sixth win in enemy territory is the bigger priority for him, as is stopping Rodgers and the Packers' offense.
One potential reason for avoiding a question about the playoffs is that Rivera could be faced with a difficult decision if the Panthers continue on the winning path. If this team does, in fact, secure a spot in the postseason behind the strong play of Kyle Allen, would Rivera be willing to bench him in favor of a QB in Newton that has been inactive for nearly the entire season?
Yes, the 2015 league MVP has proven to be a wildly effective player once the calendar turns to January, but he would potentially be rusty after missing 14 games of action. The Panthers would likely stick with the proverbial hot hand in Allen and let him lead the team into a "loser goes home" scenario.
While reporters may want a more in-depth answer about Newton's future with the team and the possibility of a return to the field, Rivera will not be providing any clarity. The Panthers coach will instead be focusing on an upcoming schedule that features games against the Saints, Falcons, and Packers.
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