Cam Newton sidelined for Sunday’s game after truck crash

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By Eliott C. McLaughlin and Steve Almasy

FILE: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers warms up prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium. Photo by CNN's Rachel Nichols, Host of CNN's 'Unguarded'. The 49ers defeated the Panthers 23-10. Credit:Rachel Nichols/CNN

FILE: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers warms up prior to the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the San Francisco 49ers at Bank of America Stadium. Photo by CNN’s Rachel Nichols, Host of CNN’s ‘Unguarded’. The 49ers defeated the Panthers 23-10.
Credit: Rachel Nichols/CNN

CNN

(CNN) — The Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton does not appear to be at fault in a Charlotte, North Carolina, wreck, according to a police report released a few hours before the star quarterback was discharged from a hospital Wednesday.

The driver of the car that flipped Newton’s truck told police he didn’t see the truck before colliding with its driver’s-side rear wheel, according to the report.

Two witnesses, one who was traveling behind Newton’s Dodge truck and one who was behind the Buick sedan that struck Newton, told police that the other driver — identified as a Fort Mill, South Carolina, 46-year-old — pulled out in front of Newton as he was on his way to the Panthers’ facility.

“(Newton) advised that he tried to maneuver to avoid the collision but (was) unsuccessful. As a result of the collision, (his vehicle) rolled over,” the report said.

The speed limit was 35 mph on the street where Newton was traveling, and Newton was driving the speed limit when he was hit, according to the report.

Newton suffered two horizontal fractures in his back in the wreck, the Panthers said in a statement Tuesday. He will be sidelined for Sunday’s game after spending parts of Tuesday and Wednesday in the hospital.

The quarterback was released from the hospital Wednesday, team spokesman Charlie Dayton told CNN.

“Cam Newton has soreness but is in good spirits. He’s excited to be discharged and begin recuperating with family,” the team tweeted.

On Wednesday night Newton posted a picture of his truck on Facebook and wrote a message to his fans, thanking God for watching over him and telling his supporters to forgive grudges and tell others how much you care for them. He said he is replaying the accident in his mind “every time I close my eyes.”

“I do not know where to begin because by the look of that picture soMEone is supposed to be dead or severely injured worse than what I am right now!” he wrote. “While I am resting up the thought that keeps flashing in my mind is that GOD IS GOOD and someone has there protective hands on my life shielding me from any danger that may come my way!”

He added: ” Thank you to the people who have been keeping me in there prayers and well wishes for a speedy recovery!”

The injury was to Newton’s transverse process, a small bone that extends from each vertebra in the back. There were no other internal injuries, the team said.

“It’s not the kind of injury that affects the spine or the nerves so it’s a matter of when the pain settles down enough so he can play,” said Dr. Kenneth Mautner, a sports medicine specialist at Emory University in Atlanta. He is not involved in Newton’s case.

The injury is treated similarly to a rib injury. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had the same injury earlier this season, he said. Romo missed one game.

Mautner said doctors will advise rest and recuperation and likely recommend Newton not practice for two days or longer. It can take one to three weeks for a patient to deal with the pain from the fractures, Mautner said.

Newton shot to fame in 2010, leading the Auburn Tigers to an undefeated national championship season. He went on to win the Heisman Trophy, given to the best player in college football, and was drafted No. 1 by the Panthers in 2011, making him the first player to accomplish all three feats in the same year.

After signing a four-year, $22 million deal with the Panthers in 2011, the Atlanta native showed his prowess as both a passer and a rusher, racking up more than 4,000 yards throwing and more than 700 yards running, snaring Rookie of the Year honors.

This year, with both Newton and his team beset by injuries, he has put up less impressive numbers, and the Panthers are 4-8-1 going into this weekend’s games.

He arguably had his best game of the season Sunday against the division rival New Orleans Saints, throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for another. For that effort, he was named his conference’s offensive player of the week.

Despite their dismal record, the Panthers are still in the playoff hunt because of the weak competition in the NFC South. They are set to play another division rival, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Sunday.

Backup quarterback Derek Anderson told reporters Wednesday he’d be starting against the Bucs, but it wouldn’t affect how he prepared for Sunday. He’s ready for the challenge, he said, and he looks forward to Newton’s return.

“Obviously, he’s our leader, and last week, the way he played — I thought he played awesome,” he said. “If he could be out there, he’d be out there.”

Coach Ron Rivera said Newton wanted to play, but he wasn’t sure when Newton would return.

“As we go forward, we’ll see how he is next week,” Rivera said. “We do not want to expose him in any fashion to any further harm.”

CNN’s Jill Martin, Kevin Dotson and John Newsome contributed to this report.

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