The Carolina Panthers (4-8-1) are in third place in their division. Given their record, that is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is that they’re less than a game behind NFC South leaders Atlanta (5-8) and New Orleans (5-8).
This is, without question, one of the craziest seasons any NFC South player has ever been a part of.
“It’s one of those things where they always say fight to the end,” Panthers running back Mike Tolbert said on The MoJo Show. “No matter what happens, you keep fighting. No matter what our record is – 4-8-1 – we’re still fighting. We got a chance to make history, actually. We’re ready to go.”
But they may have to go with Derek Anderson under center, as Cam Newton sustained two back fractures following a two-car accident Tuesday afternoon near Bank of America Stadium. It is the same injury that Tony Romo suffered earlier this year and could take four to six weeks to heal.
Newton, the 25-year-old former No. 1 pick, has thrown for 2,812 yards, rushed for 425 yards and accounted for 19 touchdowns (16 pass, three rush) this season.
Anderson, 31, might start this Sunday against Tampa Bay (2-11).
“We’re extremely confident in Derek’s ability,” Tolbert said. “He’s straightened our defense up every day in practice, so we know what he can do. We know he’s a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback that’s been there before. He’s done it all. We’re excited about him being here. We definitely hope Cam can go, but if not, we’re definitely confident that Derek can get the job done.”
The news of Newton’s crash came as a shock to Tolbert.
“It was tough because a lot of guys – today’s our off day – so a lot of guys weren’t around,” Tolbert said. “When it happened, my phone started blowing up.”
Are you okay? Is Cam okay? What’s going on?
“I’m sitting here like, ‘Whoa, I just woke up from a nap everybody. What’s going on?’” Tolbert recalled. “I called Coach (Ron) Rivera, he told me what was going on, and we’re just sending prayers up to (Newton), hoping that everything turns out well – just for his health, not football-wise, but just for him to be okay, healthy and for him to get a speedy recovery.
“But I think the team was pretty shaken up by hearing all the rumors that happened on Twitter and things like that,” Tolbert continued. “(There were rumors that) he broke both his legs, was paralyzed from the waist down – things I heard today was crazy.”
Newton was the only person in his Dodge Ram at the time of the accident.
“I heard that his truck actually flipped a couple times,” Tolbert said. “That’s what I was reading online.”
Newton was expected to remain hospitalized overnight for observation.
“As far as I know, he’s in stable condition,” Tolbert said. “They say he’s doing good. They’re going to hold him overnight, so as long as he’s still with us and God’s got his hands on him, the football aspect can come later. He’s like a brother to us all. So we’re definitely praying for him and wishing him a speedy recovery.”