CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cam Newton has been discharged from the hospital following a two-car crash that left the quarterback with two fractures in his lower back, team officials said.
Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said Wednesday that Newton was thankful for the care he received and is stiff and sore, but otherwise “his spirits were high.” Newton left the hospital with his family and will stay with them while recuperating. He will not be at the team’s facility Wednesday.
It remains unclear when Newton will return to action.
“That will be determined really on a day-to-day basis and we'll see how fast the soreness goes away,” Dayton said. “He'll start the recuperation process today.”
Newton’s father Cecil and mother Jackie, who live in Atlanta, arrived in Charlotte Tuesday after the accident.
The Panthers began practicing Wednesday in preparation for Sunday’s divisional game against Tampa Bay. Derek Anderson worked as the first-team quarterback.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police issued no citations for the accident.
A police report states that Newton was driving when a car driven by Nestor Pellot Jr., 46, of Fort Mill, South Carolina, pulled out in front of the fourth-year quarterback, causing his vehicle to flip. The report said Pellot didn’t see Newton’s truck at first and when he did, he tried to avoid a collision.
The report does not place blame on either driver.
However, the report lists two witnesses who said Pellot pulled out in front of Newton, causing $9,000 damage to the quarterback’s 1998 Dodge truck. Pellot’s 2013 Buick suffered $4,000 damage.
Like Newton, Pellot was also taken to the hospital but his injuries are unknown.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman was at the league owner’s meeting in Irving, Texas on Tuesday when he received a call from his office about the crash.
“I’m just thankful he was wearing a seatbelt and everyone involved is all right,” Gettleman said Wednesday morning before boarding a plane back to Charlotte.
Gettleman said he was horrified by the photos from the accident scene and that it wasn’t until sometime later he breathed a sigh of relief.
“You spend so much time with these guys and they become part of the family,” Gettleman said.
The horrific-looking accident was the latest unfortunate turn in what has been a frustrating season for Newton.
He escaped life-threatening injuries in the accident but the crash has left his return to the field in question, and he was coming off perhaps his best game of the season.
“You look at the truck and you think, ‘Man, I’m glad there was nobody in the passenger seat because it could have been bad,” Gettleman said.
Newton has no internal injuries and will not need surgery.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffered the same injury description earlier this year against Washington and sat out one game before returning to action the following week.
However, Romo’s injury came on the field, not in a car accident. Newton is also asked to run more than Romo and takes more hits than any quarterback in the league.
Dr. Andrew Hecht, chief of spine surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, said Tuesday the transverse process is the small bone that sticks out of either side of the vertebrae.
Hecht said while the injury can be extremely painful, the bones are “of no significance in terms of the overall structural stability of the spine” and there are normally no long-term issues.
He said Newton’s return to football will largely depend on how the quarterback feels, adding that Newton could have additional soft tissue damage.
The Panthers have three games left in the regular season.
They enter a crucial stretch one-half game behind the Saints and Falcons, both 5-8, in the NFC South. If the Panthers win their final three games and the Saints lose one game, Carolina will repeat as NFC South champions.
Ironically, Newton missed Carolina’s first game against Tampa Bay in Week 1 while recovering from ankle surgery and fractured ribs in the preseason.
The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback is having a roller-coaster season, but put it all together Sunday against New Orleans. The Panthers (4-8-1) catapulted themselves back in the NFC South playoff race with a 41-10 rout of the Saints. Newton threw three touchdown passes and snapped a string of eight straight games with an interception.
An Atlanta native, Newton led the Auburn Tigers to a national championship in 2010.
Newton is under contract through 2015 after the Panthers picked up a one-year option on his rookie deal. Newton will make approximately $15 million next season.