Carolina is preparing for life without Cam Newton next season, in case the Panthers’ quarterback can’t make it back from a lingering shoulder injury.
Owner David Tepper said Tuesday that the hope is Newton will be healthy. However, the team still doesn’t know if he’ll need surgery.
“Hopefully Cam’s shoulder is fantastic and we’re hunky dory and we’re all happy. If it’s not, you may need more cap space,” Tepper said. “You need to be able to go out and find somebody. If you don’t, [reporters] are going to be writing up what a dope we are here.”
Newton struggled most of the season throwing the ball more than 15 yards downfield, partly stemming from surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in 2017. The Panthers eventually shut him down with two games remaining after being eliminated from playoff contention.
Newton was a mere shell of himself in the second half as the Panthers finished 7-9 after starting 6-2. Newton threw six interceptions and two touchdowns in his final three games.
Tepper said the Panthers should’ve considered sitting Newton when he wasn’t able to practice during the week.
Tepper also pointed to Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck as a player who returned from a shoulder injury to play at a high level this year — although that came after Luck sat out all of 2017.
Tepper said undrafted rookie Kyle Allen, who played well in Carolina’s season-ending win at New Orleans, is an option.
Atlanta defensive end Takkarist McKinley was undergoing a mental evaluation after police were called to an L.A. hotel.
No criminal charges were filed. The Falcons said they will do “everything we possibly can to support and assist” the former UCLA star, who had a team-high seven sacks this season.
Pro Bowl replacements
Luck was named to the AFC Pro Bowl squad to replace the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, and Baltimore defensive tackle Brandon Williams will replace Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins. On the NFC team, Dallas linebacker Leighton Vander Esch replaces Carolina’s Luke Kuechly; Philadelphia safety Malcolm Jenkins replaces the New York Giants’ Landon Collins; San Francisco defensive tackle DeForest Buckner replaces Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox; and Atlanta tight end Austin Hooper replaces Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz.
Chicago defensive backs coach Ed Donatell is following Vic Fangio to be his defensive coordinator. Outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley is joining Fangio too. ... Indianapolis fired offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, who took over a unit that allowed a league-high 56 sacks in 2017 and under him, the Colts gave up a league-low 18 sacks this season. ... Kansas City activated right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from injured reserve.