ProFootballDoc: What Can the Patriots (and Fans, and Fantasy Players) Expect From Cam?

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In typical Bill Belichick fashion, he used a situation to his advantage.
He replaced Tom Brady with Cam Newton.
The New England Patriots did it again.

Newton was cast aside in Carolina after a down season followed by an injury riddled one. He landed in a market with very few openings for his services and even fewer bidders as many questioned his (two) throwing shoulder procedures and foot surgery. What made it even more problematic for Newton was the lack of in-person physicals due to CoronaVirus. He literally had to market himself on social media.

The Patriots, who were up against the salary cap, advantageously signed Newton for the veteran minimum (plus a bonus structure). Shrewdly, right after the signing, the team reworked some contracts to create over $7 million in cap space.

But the major question remains: Will Newton be healthy and able to contribute?

Based on my NFL experience as a head team physician analyzing players, I have little doubt that his health will be anything but fine. 

Many worry about his Lisfranc foot surgery from December of last year and cite typical recovery as nine months or longer. Indeed, that can be the case, but not here. By my analysis, Newton had a very mild form of the midfoot injury as evidenced by the fact that he tried to play on it and attempted to rest to allow it to heal before the delayed surgery. A high-grade Lisfranc injury would be easily recognized, there would be no way to play on it, and he would have had immediate surgery.

Anytime a quarterback has shoulder surgery there is concern and Newton had two in the previous two seasons. Based on his own YouTube channel video of his surgeons post-operative conversations with Newton, I don’t see it as an issue for this season. The key phrase there is “this season.” The injuries could call into question his longevity given the admitted damage is to his articular cartilage which in lay terms is a form of arthritis.

Rather than health, the main issue – at least from my perspective — is the lack of time to learn a new offensive system. Perhaps the playing field has been leveled on that issue given that no team has had a chance to install/learn new offenses this offseason, even if the Patriots system is not easy to digest no matter the time to learn it.

The bottom line is this: Newton will be healthy for the start of training camp. If he is able to learn the offense, he will lead the team onto the field whenever we get football back.  It also shows that the Patriots are trying to win now and a “Tank for Trevor (Lawrence)” strategy was never in the cards.

Oh, bonus tidbit for the conspiracy theorists: Newton injured his foot in the preseason game against the Patriots.

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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