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 vehicle 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.
“(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 was listed in fair condition and spent the night 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.
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 would be a surprise if he could play Sunday but it’s not out of the question, said Dr. Kenneth Mautner, a sports medicine specialist at Emory University in Atlanta.
“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 Mautner, who is not involved in Newton’s case.
The injury is treated similarly to a rib injury, and if he plays, Newton likely will wear extra padding during a game to protect the back, the doctor said. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had the same injury earlier this season, he said.
Mautner said doctors will advise rest and recuperation and likely recommend Newton not practice for at least two days, perhaps longer. It can take one to three weeks for a patient to deal with 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.