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Dec 10, 2014 11:20 PM

Panthers' Newton thankful to be alive after crash

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cam Newton is thankful to be alive after escaping a horrific-looking automobile accident without any life-threatening injuries.

The Panthers quarterback posted a lengthy introspective message to his Instagram account late Wednesday night with a photo of his mangled truck.

"By the look of that picture SoMEone is supposed to be dead or severely injured worse than what I am right now," Newton posted. "While I am resting up the thought that keeps flashing in my mind is that GOD IS GOOD and someone has (their) protective hands on my life shielding me from danger that may come my way!"

Newton fractured two bones in his lower back when his truck crashed and overturned one block from the team's downtown stadium, but will not need surgery. Coach Ron Rivera said Newton, who has started 60 of 61 games during his career, will not play Sunday against Tampa Bay.

"I won't expose him," Rivera said. "I don't want to put him in a bad position."

Newton, 25, did not practice with the team Wednesday, but Rivera said he is likely to return to the facility on Thursday.

Newton thanked those who have sent thoughts and prayers, adding: . "This accident puts A LOT of things in perspective of what's important and what's not!"

Rivera confirmed Wednesday that Derek Anderson will start and Joe Webb will be his backup. The coach said Newton's playing status will be reevaluated next week before Carolina's game against Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns.

Newton was discharged from the hospital earlier Wednesday and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police issued no citations for the accident.

Rivera said he met with Newton on Tuesday at the hospital and "in true Cam fashion, he was disappointed for his teammates. He feels like he is letting us all down."

Newton's teammate Byron Bell said he started praying when he heard about the accident from a teammate.

"My only concern was 'Is he alive?" Bell said. "I'm not worried if Cam is playing Sunday, I just want him to be fine."

With Newton sidelined, Rivera will turn to Anderson, now in his 10th season.

Anderson started against Tampa Bay in the season opener and threw two touchdown passes, leading the Panthers to a 20-14 victory.

Newton left the hospital with his family and will stay with them while recuperating, Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said. Newton's father Cecil and mother Jackie, who live in Atlanta, arrived in Charlotte Tuesday after the accident.

A police report states that Newton was driving when a car driven by Nestor Pellot Jr., 46, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, pulled out in front of the fourth-year quarterback, causing his vehicle to flip. The report said Pellot didn't see Newton's truck at first and when he did, he tried to avoid a collision.

The report does not place blame on either driver.

However, the report lists two witnesses who said Pellot pulled out in front of Newton, causing $9,000 damage to the quarterback's 1998 Dodge truck. Pellot's 2013 Buick suffered $4,000 damage.

Like Newton, Pellot was also taken to the hospital but his injuries are unknown.

"I'm just thankful he was wearing a seatbelt and everyone involved is all right," Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said via telephone from the NFL owner's meetings in Irving, Texas.

The accident was the latest unfortunate turn in what has been a frustrating injury-plagued season for Newton. He had offseason ankle surgery and fractured his ribs in the preseason.

On Tuesday, Newton was diagnosed with two transverse process fractures, a similar injury description suffered by Brazilian soccer star Neymar and Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.

Neymar was sidelined about four weeks. Romo, who was injured against Washington, sat out one game before returning to action the following week.

Anderson said he is ready to step in and start and get the team focused and hops fans will rally around Newton.

"I know we are all thinking about him," Anderson said. "We are all fired about up this weekend, but it will now take a city-wide effort to get this stadium rocking."

Anderson filled in for Newton in the season opener and threw two touchdown passes in a 20-14 Carolina win.

While Newton will return his attention back to football soon, his focus was clearly elsewhere Wednesday night.

"As that crash constantly plays back in my mind every time I close my eyes, I can't go another day without me THANKING GOD for the opportunities he has given me in my life," Newton wrote, encouraging people to live, love and forgive.

"Trust when I tell you that L1FE is to short for you NOT to do those things."


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL


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