Panthers under fire for failed protocol after Newton hit

Cam Newton returned to the NFC wild-card playoff loss for the Carolina Panthers without being put through the newly enhanced NFL concussion protocol, which includes removing players from the field for examination in a locker room.

With eight minutes and 26 seconds left in Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints, Newton went down after a hit by Saints backup defensive tackle David Onyemata.

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Approaching the sideline, Newton went to the ground and gestured toward his right eye or forehead.

According to the NFL, this action required a locker room examination due to the inclusion of the notice that league will "require a locker room concussion evaluation for all players demonstrating gross or sustained vertical instability (e.g., stumbling or falling to the ground when trying to stand)."

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Cam Newton suffers possible concussion during Wild Card game
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Cam Newton suffers possible concussion during Wild Card game
Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) hits Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) hits Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) hits Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts after a tackle by the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts after a tackle by the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is examined after being tackled by the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is examined after being tackled by the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is examined after being tackled by the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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Panthers media relations announced Newton instead was tested for a concussion in the blue sideline tent, cleared and permitted to return to the game.

Newton returned on the next series and threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Christian McCaffrey on the third play of the possession.

Newton echoed coach Ron Rivera's assessment that Newton was poked in the eye.

"I know it was precautionary things for a concussion," Newton said, "but it wasn't a hit to the head it was my eye. My helmet had came down low enough over my eyelid and it got pressed by the player's stomach I believe. I thought somebody stuck their finger in my eye, but I've got my visor, so that couldn't happen."

The Seattle Seahawks were fined $100,000 for failing to test quarterback Russell Wilson in Week 10. No violations were found in an investigation of the Houston Texans' decision to clear quarterback Tom Savage despite visible concussion-like symptoms on the field. However, the investigation did lead to the NFL announcement on Dec. 29 of new concussion protocol.

--Field Level Media

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