Panthers QB Newton to have surgery, out 4 months

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Cam Newton will undergo surgery Wednesday on his left ankle and will be sidelined for four months, the Carolina Panthers announced.

The team said Tuesday the Pro Bowl quarterback has experienced soreness in the ankle since the end of last season and the problem simply wasn’t getting better.

“The ankle was sore after the San Francisco game and we wanted to see if rest would calm it down, but it is still bothering him and the decision was made to address it,” Panthers trainer Ryan Anderson said in a press release.

The Panthers lost to the 49ers on Jan. 12 in the NFC divisional playoffs.

The surgery will be performed by Panthers team physician Robert Anderson at Carolinas Medical Center. If all goes as expected, Newton could return before training begins at the end of July.

Newton led the Panthers to a 12-4 record last season and the NFC South championship. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl.

The news is particularly concerning for the Panthers since Newton is expected to be working with almost an entirely new group of wide receivers this season.

The Panthers released Steve Smith, the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions in a salary cap related move last week. Brandon LaFell, the team’s other starter last season, signed with New England in free agency while top reserves Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon signed free agent deals with Arizona and Chicago respectively.

Given that Newton won’t be back until just before the start of training camp means he won’t have much time to develop chemistry with the new receivers the team brings in to play this season.

The Panthers haven’t signed any free agent receivers this offseason, although they did recently visit with Jerricho Cotchery from the New York Jets.

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Ron Rivera were unavailable for comment.

Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, reached by telephone, said he hasn’t spoken to his son about the ankle and didn’t feel comfortable discussing the injury in the media.

He said Cam Newton has been taking classes at Auburn where he is working on his college degree.

Newton has started all 48 regular season games since arriving as the No. 1 overall pick out of Auburn in 2011.

This past season Newton threw for 3,379 yards with a career-high 24 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He also led the Panthers on five come-from-behind victories in the fourth quarter.

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