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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
The NFL and the players union have launched an official review to determine whether the Carolina Panthers followed the concussion protocol properly with quarterback Cam Newton during Sunday's NFC wild-card game against the Saints.
Head coach Ron Rivera and interim general manager Marty Hurney both said Monday they believe the Panthers acted properly after Newton took a big hit to the head in the fourth quarter of the 31-26 loss to New Orleans.
"We did everything the right way," Hurney said.
Newton left for one play after Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata's chest struck Newton's head with about nine minutes left.
Newton walked toward the Panthers' sideline and appeared to stumble to the turf as trainers met him a few yards from the bench area.
Newton was evaluated for a concussion in the medical tent, and was cleared to return. He said after the game the issue was with his eye, not his head.
The NFL and union announced changes to the protocol last month in the wake of Texans quarterback Tom Savage returning to the field after having an apparent seizure after a hit.
Among the changes was the requirement of a locker room concussion evaluation for all players "demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand.)"
Panthers officials reiterated Monday that Newton was following instructions from the sideline to take a knee so backup quarterback Derek Anderson could loosen up.
"He took a hit. But when he walked off and he told the trainers he got poked in the eye, then they did take him into the tent and checked him for a concussion, which he did not have," Hurney said.
"And it was really getting poked in the eye. He took a knee because they told him to take a knee so we could get the official timeout and Derek could warm up."
Rivera did not believe Newton had not demonstrated any post-concussion symptoms Monday.
"I don't think so. But again, I'm not the doctor," Rivera said. "I know he still has to do his exit physicals. So they'll get a chance to look at him."
This is not the first time the Panthers' handling of Newton has come under scrutiny. The league and union conducted a review last year after Newton took a helmet-to-helmet shot near the end of a Week 1 loss at Denver, but remained in the game.
The NFL and NFLPA determined the Panthers properly followed the protocol in that case.
The Panthers could be subject to a fine of up to $150,000 if it's found they erred in implementing the protocol.
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