Cam Newton never tested for concussion despite four blows to helmet by Broncos

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.

"I'm happy they took a lot of concern with the collision I had with (Panthers safety) Kurt Coleman,'' Norwood said. "I know my wife was happy they took the time to go  through the protocol. They did as much as they could on the  sideline and then they took me to the  locker room to finish up.''
 
The side of Norwood's helmet got hit by Coleman on what the Broncos receiver called "a good football  play" during running play.
 
"It was a  pretty good collision,'' Norwood said. "But if you get bearings back in 5 seconds I think it's a little different than laying out on the  field and things like  that.''
 
How Newton was not flagged by the concussion spotters in the press box to leave the game for brain evaluation is unexplainable. It’s easier to understand why Carolina head  coach Ron Rivera and the  Panthers’  medical team didn’t pull Newton for evaluation – with him on the field they had a great  chance to  win; without him they had  less chance.

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


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