CHARLOTTE – Is head coach Ron Rivera relieved after learning the extent of Cam Newton's foot injury?
Yeah, you could say that.
“Very much so,” Rivera said after the Panthers practiced Saturday. “Are you kidding? It’s your starting quarterback.”
Newton did not make an appearance at Saturday’s practice, and Rivera said the medical staff wants Newton to stay off his injured left foot for the time being. Newton is still in a walking boot and he rehabbed inside while the team practiced in light rain.
“We anticipate he’ll be back on the practice field pretty soon,” Rivera said. “There really isn’t any timetable. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure he’s right and ready to roll.”
That said, it's unlikely we'll see Newton on the field before next weekend, when preparation really begins to ramp up for the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
The Panthers will split their time this week between prep for the Rams and prep for the preseason finale against the Steelers, a game that will feature only reserves.
Of course it’d be preferable to have Newton healthy and on the practice field this week, but Rivera is choosing to look at it with a glass-half-full attitude.
“The young guys can focus in on what they need to, and quite honestly it gives Cam a little more rest,” Rivera said. “Things are going great with the shoulder, so now he’s getting a chance to rest a little bit. We’re looking at it that way and putting a positive spin on it.”
Rivera is taking the same positive approach with the backup quarterbacks, who are in the spotlight with Newton’s foot injury and who again struggled to get into a groove in the loss to the Patriots.
Kyle Allen echoed this sentiment that came from the coaching staff in the morning meeting: “We’re disappointed, but not discouraged.”
The Panthers had 99 total net yards and only put three points on the board against New England. Offensively, things have been out of sync. But Allen, who was just 3-of-6 for 16 yards in the contest, remains upbeat and confident, true to form.
“I wouldn’t say it’s concerning,” Allen said when asked about the recent struggles. “Obviously there are things we want to improve on and that’s not what we want to put on tape. We learn from it, put it in the past and keep going.
“We’re going to have a really explosive team this year, I know it.”
Allen’s ability to shrug off mistakes and move forward has always impressed the coaches. And that winning performance in Week 17 of last season against the Saints has stuck with them as Allen and rookie quarterback Will Grier continue to compete for the backup role.
“You really watch the things that Kyle really knows and really handles very well, and you feel, OK, this is the guy,” Rivera said. “He hasn’t been as steady as we’d like in the two preseason games. The decision-making process has been good, he just hasn’t delivered a good ball at times. But he is quick on his feet. He’s shown some cool under pressure in the past, and I think that really weighs in his favor. He’s shown us that he has done it and he can handle it.”