Carolina Panthers

Panthers’ Rivera admits QB Newton had confidence shaken last season

(AP Photo)

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admitted on Wednesday that quarterback Cam Newton’s play in 2016 suffered due to his confidence being shaken.

“He’s going to have to rebuild his confidence,” Rivera told reporters Wednesday at the NFC coaches breakfast. “I mean, it was shook. Let’s be honest. I’m not even going to lie about that. The young man went through a tough time and we went through a tough time. Why? Because of the injuries that we suffered on the offensive line. That was probably the biggest thing. It just kind of shows the importance of protecting your quarterback.”

Newton completed 52.9% of his passes for 3,509 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His quarterback rating of 75.8 was a career low, and the Panthers finished 6-10.

Those numbers marked a stark drop-off from his Most Valuable Player campaign the previous season, in which Newton completed 59.8% of his passes for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns while leading the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a trip to Super Bowl 50, though Carolina fell to the Denver Broncos 24-10.

One of the chief reasons for Newton’s struggles, Rivera noted, was because of a leaky offensive line that permitted Newton to get hit repeatedly.

The Panthers announced March 21 that Newton played with a partially torn rotator cuff in his right throwing shoulder late in the year. After rest and rehab did not solve the issue, Newton now will undergo surgery and miss all of Carolina’s organized team activities and minicamp. The Panthers expect Newton to be back for the start of training camp in July.

Newton will not be able to throw while he recovers from the procedure, but the Panthers expect him to be engaged in the team’s offensive meetings and preparations for the 2017 season.

“He’ll be there,” Rivera said. “He’ll be actively involved. He won’t be throwing, but he’ll be doing the stuff the trainers allow him to do and then he’ll be with us.”

Newton’s surgery is scheduled for Thursday.

“We feel pretty comfortable with that, for the most part,” Rivera said Wednesday. “We’ll just see how it goes. We’ll know Thursday.”

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