Knee injury contributed to Newton's fall after hit to head

Cam Newton injured his knee in playoff loss to Saints

In addition to getting no help from his wide receivers, Newton got pummeled in the backfield repeatedly, sacked four times, poked in the eye and kicked in the head.

But that doesn't matter, according to the joint statement the NFL and NFL Players Association distributed just nine days before that Panthers-Saints game.

With 8:26 left in the 31-26 loss to New Orleans, Newton went down after a hit by Saints backup defensive tackle David Onyemata.

On the surface, that excuse seems like a hard one to believe, especially in light of how often the NFL's concussion protocol gets ignored for star players.

In December, the National Football League announced changes to its concussion protocol, including forcing players who stumble or fall to get evaluated in the locker room rather than the medical tent, except in cases of orthopedic injuries.

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Earlier this year, the Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 after quarterback Russell Wilson was not properly tested.

Newton echoed coach Ron Rivera's assessment that Newton was poked in the eye.

"I know it was precautionary things for a concussion", Newton said, "but it wasn't a hit to the head, it was my 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".

According to Schefter, the quarterback underwent an MRI for the injured knee on Monday, which came back negative. My helmet had come down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player's stomach, I believe.

Newton returned for the next offensive series after missing just one play and threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to rookie Christian McCaffery.

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