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Dec 10, 2014 3:19 PM

Rivera: Anderson replacing Newton at QB vs. Bucs

The Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants Cam Newton to get some rest and not worry about football.

Rivera said Wednesday that his fourth-year quarterback will not play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, allowing him a chance to begin recovering from an automobile crash that left him with two fractures in his lower back.

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

Rivera confirmed Wednesday that Derek Anderson will start and Joe Webb will be his backup, and joked that Newton would be mad when he finds out he's not playing.

Newton was discharged from the hospital earlier Wednesday, a day after he was injured when his truck crashed and overturned in a two-car accident. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police issued no citations for the accident.

Newton was not at the team's facility, though Rivera said he is expected to be in on Thursday and his playing status will be reevaluated next week.

The coach 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."

Rivera said Newton flashed his smile and "when he did that you knew everything was going to be OK."

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.

"He's had some success in this league," Rivera said.

Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said Wednesday that Newton is stiff and sore, but otherwise "his spirits were high" when he left the hospital.

Newton left the hospital with his family and will stay with them while recuperating. His 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.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman 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 Wednesday morning before boarding a plane back to Charlotte.

The horrific-looking accident was the latest unfortunate turn in what has been a frustrating injury-plagued season for Newton. He was coming off his best game of the season when the crash has left his return to the field in question.

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.

"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."

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, and still in contention in the NFC South.

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 filled in and threw two touchdown passes in the win.

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


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