Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is traveling to Green Bay to meet with renowned foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, a league source confirmed to the Observer. The team confirmed the news Friday afternoon.
“I spent a long time speaking with Cam this week and he’s done everything he possibly can in his rehab process to get his foot to 100 percent,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we haven’t reached that point. The next step is for him to go see Dr. Anderson and gather more information.”
Newton has missed the past five games with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. He initially injured the foot Aug. 22 in Carolina’s third preseason game against the New England Patriots.
The quarterback started each of Carolina’s first two games, a pair of home losses to the Rams and Buccaneers, but later admitted in a video blog that he struggled to run during each.
Coach Ron Rivera said Friday that the team is still hopeful Newton will avoid surgery. When asked what the threshold would be for deciding to let Newton heal the rest of the season, Rivera said the examination with Anderson would lend clarity.
“He’s going up and probably seeing one of the best foot doctors, and whatever we get from the doctor, I think will probably really impact the decisions going forward,” Rivera said. “But until then, like I said, it would be pure speculation.”
Rivera also said he “didn’t want to get into” whether the team would consider placing Newton on season-ending injured reserve (IR).
Newton is under contract with the team through next season, but if the team were to cut him, they would save $19 million against the salary cap while eating only $2 million in dead money.
Since Newton’s exit, the Panthers have reiterated that they won’t rush him back before he’s 100-percent healthy. The team and Rivera have maintained that Newton is progressing in his rehab process.
“Part of the process,” a league source said of Newton meeting with Anderson.
But the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Friday morning on Twitter that Newton’s meeting with Anderson is more a cause for concern.
Players with a Lisfranc injury like Newton may opt to let the foot heal naturally over time.
Anderson, previously the Panthers’ assistant team physician, said in a 2013 interview that even “non-operative” Lisfranc injuries may take 6-8 weeks to heal. He also said that if a player and/or team opts for surgery, the recovery timeline may take 5-6 months.
Since exiting the lineup after Week 2, Newton has only briefly appeared at Panthers practice. He traveled with the team to San Francisco last week for the first time this season, and he went through a pregame routine of dynamic stretching and some throwing.
The word “setback,” Rivera said, is not one he’d use in describing Newton’s progress or his visit to see Anderson. That said, the coach did say he got a sense that the hyper-competitive Newton was frustrated that the recovery process is dragging.
Rivera added that knowing what the team knew about Newton’s injury the first two weeks of the season, he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
“Based on what we knew at the time, no,” Rivera said. “I thought we did what we were supposed to do. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way and hindsight would be great to have, but no. I think the things that we did in listening to the doctors and listening to the player, no.”
Monday, quarterback Kyle Allen was named the starter for Sunday’s game vs. the Tennessee Titans. Allen has started the past five games in Newton’s absence, leading the Panthers to a 4-1 record during that span.