Tolbert: Panthers mismanaged Newton's injuries
Eric Hartline / US PRESSWIRE

A former teammate of Cam Newton's believes the Carolina Panthers did Newton wrong by releasing him so late in free agency. He also believes it was just the last in a long line of bad moves the franchise made with its star quarterback.

Retired fullback Mike Tolbert was one several Panthers alumni asked about Newton's release, but he was perhaps the most vocal in defending his old quarterback.

"They've been doing him wrong timing-wise for the past two or three years, if you ask me," Tolbert told Joseph Person of The Athletic.

"It goes back to his shoulder surgery. Everyone knew his shoulder was messed up in the middle of the year two years ago. But they wait until offseason gets ready to start to have shoulder surgery. Makes no sense. Timing's off."

Newton underwent surgery on his throwing shoulder for a partially torn rotator cuff in March 2017. He dealt with an injury to the same shoulder while Panthers endured a six-game losing streak in 2018, but he didn't undergo another procedure until January 2019.

Tolbert said it was more of the same after Newton suffered an injury in a 2019 preseason game against the New England Patriots.

"As soon as he got hurt ... they were saying, 'Oh, he's got a high ankle sprain.' I looked at it on film carefully. It's not a high ankle sprain, you could tell that 10 minutes after the play," Tolbert said. "You knew it's a mid-foot sprain, Lisfranc, something like that. But you wait 'til December for him to beg you to have surgery. He shouldn't have been out there Week 1 and 2. He shouldn't have been out there probably 'til Week 4 or 5, at minimum."

Instead, Newton struggled through two losses in the first two weeks of the season before the Panthers shut him down for the year.

Carolina released Newton on March 24 after nine years with the team. The 31-year-old remains a free agent.

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Tolbert: Panthers mismanaged Newton's injuries
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