ENGLEWOOD—Cam Newton was hit four times in the helmet by Denver Broncos defenders Thursday.
Once by Shaq Barrett, once by Brandon Marshall, once by Von Miller and once by Darian Stewart.
The hits by Barrett, Miller and Stewart appeared to be speed-of-the-game, unintentional strikes to the helmet.
"I reached for the ball and his head was right there,'' Barrett said. "It was nothing intentional at all.In fact I got this blood on my finger. It hurts, too.''
The blow from Marshall may have been accidental, but it didn’t look that way.
Only Stewart’s hit was penalized – and that was a flag thrown from far away by referee Gene Steratore, who saw what the back judge positioned near the play could not.
“You better be aggressive against that group,’’ Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said at his day-after-game press conference Friday. “The quarterback is such a great player and there’s so many designed runs for him and you’ve got to tackle him like a back.’’
There was one play in the fourth quarter when as Newton toward the left sideline, Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby seemed to let up a tad on the quarterback. And Newton ran right over him.
The problem is not necessarily the helmet collisions the Broncos had on Newton as that he was never checked for a concussion, much less get cleared from the concussion protocol. Not that helmet hits should be cause for automatic concussion evaluation -- offensive and defensive linemen get banged in the helmet almost every play.
But twice, Newton was clearly shaken. Once from the hit he took from Miller as the quarterback was falling from the sack wrap of DeMarcus Ware with 8:27 left in the third quarter. And again with 42 seconds left in the game when Newton was struck by Stewart. Newton lay face down for several seconds before he got up -- and never left the field.
The Broncos had two players tested for concussions Thursday night – Jordan Norwood and Brandon Marshall. Both were cleared and returned to the game.
And Carolina would have won had Graham Gano made, instead of hooked, his 50-yard field goal attempt with 4 seconds remaining. That may be a sad commentary on how teams place a higher priority on winning than player safety.
But this is a ruthless, win-it-all-costs business. All 32 teams are guilty of trying to win at all costs.
Not all teams, however, are as cautious as the Broncos medical staff. There is an obvious solution to teams obeying the NFL’s concussion protocols – remove the teams’ medical staff from the evaluation process. There is an independent neurologist on each sideline, but they work along with the team medical personnel.
Copyright 2016 KUSA