Panthers QB Cam Newton’s ‘nicked’ ankle doesn’t concern Ron Rivera

jjones@charlotteobserver.comDecember 23, 2013 

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It’s unclear when Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) injured his ankle in Sunday’s game, but coach Ron Rivera said Monday the ‘nicked’ ankle isn’t a cause for concern. Here, Newton is grabbed by the ankle for a sack by New Orleans’ Curtis Lofton (50) during the first half Sunday. The Panthers won 17-13.

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For the second consecutive week, seemingly indestructible Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is dealing with an injury.

A week after stubbing his toe against the New York Jets, Newton injured his ankle against the New Orleans Saints and walked with a noticeable limp after the Panthers’ 17-13 victory Sunday.

Coach Ron Rivera said he’s not concerned about his 6-foot-5, 245-pound starting quarterback and does not expect Newton to miss practice.

“It was tweaked, and he feels pretty good today,” Rivera said Monday afternoon. “He came in and got some pretty good treatment today. He rolled it and he’s out here walking around.”

Newton said after the game he “nicked” his ankle. Rivera said Newton injured his ankle on a second-quarter scramble, but the broadcast seemed to indicate he injured it on a third-quarter rush for no gain near midfield.

Newton had his ankles re-taped on the sideline before finishing the game.

Newton didn’t have his best day against New Orleans, passing for 181 yards on 13-of-22 completions with one touchdown and one interception. He ran four times for 6 yards, the fewest rushing yards he’s had in a game all year and second-fewest in his career.

“You got to be smart and judicious and make sure the situation calls for it, and (offensive coordinator) Mike (Shula) was very smart about it, very careful about it and unfortunately we missed some things is probably the biggest thing,” Rivera said.

“We missed some throws. He had some guys open and he knew it and he threw them a little high, but again, as I said (Sunday), when we needed him to come through he did.”

Kuechly’s record: Luke Kuechly’s big day got even bigger after his coaches got to watch the tape.

Kuechly was credited with 24 tackles after Sunday’s game, and a coaches’ film review upped that number to 26. That broke the team record of 20, held by James Anderson.

“I think it took three games to equal one,” said Rivera, comparing his playing days with the Bears to Kuechly’s game. “That was very impressive and he played a heck of a football game.”

Kuechly became the first player since Tampa Bay’s Derrick Brooks in 2001 with 20-plus tackles and an interception in a game.

Because tackle is not an official NFL statistic, there is no official NFL record for most tackles in a game. His 24 tackles, according to press box statistics, were the most in an NFL game since 2007.

Davis shows instincts: Thomas Davis’ second-quarter interception of Drew Brees was a product of what the defense had anticipated.

“It was something that we worked on all week – sell the blitz and get back in coverage,” Davis said. “Drew Brees never saw me I don’t think and I was able to come away with a huge interception and ended up setting up a scoring drive for our offense.”

Before the snap, he set up as a down lineman. As the ball was snapped, Davis, a former safety at Georgia and in his early years at Carolina, backpedaled into coverage. He made a leaping interception on a pass intended for Kenny Stills.

“We saw some things on tape that we thought we could use to Thomas’ strengths,” defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. “He rushes well, he drops (into coverage) well and he just made a great play. I’m not sure if Brees saw him or not but credit Thomas. It’s one thing to be there, it’s another to make the play and that was a huge, huge play for us.”

On the ensuing play, DeAngelo Williams rushed for a 43-yard touchdown, giving Carolina its first lead of the game.

Davis has a career-high in tackles (143), sacks (four), interceptions (two) and passes defensed (eight) this season.

Injury update: Running back Jonathan Stewart will be re-evaluated this week. His status for the Atlanta game Sunday is unclear.

He has missed two games with a sprained knee, and Rivera was optimistic Stewart could return for the regular-season finale.

Defensive tackle Colin Cole is day-to-day with a strained calf, an injury he suffered during the first quarter against the Saints.

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9

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