Dec 10, 2014 10:30 AM
Panthers GM 'thankful' Newton was wearing seatbelt
The Associated Press
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Panthers quarterback Cam Newton remains hospitalized but is still expected to be released on Wednesday following an automobile crash that left him with fractures in his lower back.
Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman confirmed in a telephone interview from Texas that Newton had not been released Wednesday morning. The quarterback was injured Tuesday afternoon when his truck crashed and overturned in a two-car accident.
Gettleman said he still has no details of what happened or when Newton would return to action.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have not released an accident report of the crash.
The GM was at the league owner's meeting in Irving, Texas on Tuesday when he received a call from his office about the crash.
"I'm just thankful he was wearing a seatbelt and everyone involved is all right," Gettleman said before boarding a plane back to Charlotte.
Gettleman said he was horrified by the photos from the accident scene and that it wasn't until sometime later he breathed a sigh of relief.
"You spend so much time with these guys and they become part of the family," Gettleman said.
The Panthers return to practice Wednesday to begin preparing for Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Derek Anderson is expected to take the first team reps.
The horrific-looking accident was the latest unfortunate turn in what has been a frustrating season for Newton.
He escaped life-threatening injuries in the accident but the crash has left his return to the field in question, and he was coming off perhaps his best game of the season.
"You look at the truck and you think, 'Man, I'm glad there was nobody in the passenger seat because it could have been bad," Gettleman said.
Newton has no internal injuries and will not need surgery.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffered the same injury description earlier this year against Washington and sat out one game before returning to action the following week.
However, Romo's injury came on the field, not in a car accident. Newton is also asked to run more than Romo and takes more hits than any quarterback in the league.
Dr. Andrew Hecht, chief of spine surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, said Tuesday the transverse process is the small bone that sticks out of either side of the vertebrae.
Hecht said while the injury can be extremely painful, the bones are "of no significance in terms of the overall structural stability of the spine" and there are normally no long-term issues.
He said Newton's return to football will largely depend on how the quarterback feels, adding that Newton could have additional soft tissue damage.
"It would be hard to speculate on when" he'd be able to play football," Hecht said.
The Panthers have three games left in the regular season.
They enter a crucial stretch one-half game behind the Saints and Falcons, both 5-8, in the NFC South. If the Panthers win their final three games and the Saints lose one game, Carolina will repeat as NFC South champions.
Ironically, Newton missed Carolina's first game against Tampa Bay in Week 1 while recovering from ankle surgery and fractured ribs in the preseason.
Anderson started the game and threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns as the Panthers defeated the Bucs 20-14 in a game that wasn't close until Tampa Bay scored two late touchdowns.
Anderson took to Twitter late Tuesday night: "My thoughts and prayers are with my brother @CameronNewton and his family. Positive thoughts sent ur way on such a scary day!#Wolfpack"
Carolina's quarterbacks collectively call themselves the "wolfpack."
The timing couldn't be worse for Newton.
He is having a roller-coaster season, but put it all together Sunday against New Orleans. The Panthers (4-8-1) catapulted themselves back in the NFC South playoff race with a 41-10 rout of the Saints. Newton threw three touchdown passes and snapped a string of eight straight games with an interception.
An Atlanta native, Newton led the Auburn Tigers to a national championship in 2010.
Newton is under contract through 2015 after the Panthers picked up a one-year option on his rookie deal. Newton will make approximately $15 million next season.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Associated Press writers Tom Foreman Jr. and Mitch Weiss contributed to this report.