There’s a decent amount of optimism surrounding the Cleveland Browns now that Hue Jackson is the head coach and Sashi Brown is running things in the front office. It’ll take some time to decide if the optimism is warranted, but the first quarter of Week 1 was a rough one for the Browns.
Newton was on the A’Shawn Robinson Jersey receiving end of several helmet-to-helmet hits, but never missed a snap for the Panthers. One particularly brutal hit from Darian Stewart left Newton facedown on the turf and slow to get back to his feet.
The team announced shortly after the injury that Cushing’s return to Sunday’s game was questionable, but it certainly didn’t look like he’d be returning when they showed his expression on the sideline. Cushing spent time on the trainer’s table getting Alex Carter Jersey looked at by the team, and eventually walked to the locker room under his own power.
He did not return to the game.
Cushing, 29, was a first-round pick by Houston in 2009 and has been one of the league’s top linebackers in the league since then. He played in all 16 games for the Texans in 2015, but it was the first time he’d done that since 2011, as injuries have been a consistent issue for him in recent years.
Last year, Cushing put up 110 tackles and a forced fumble. In seven seasons in the league, Cushing has 13 sacks, eight interceptions and 584 tackles. Cushing made the Pro Bowl with the Texans in 2009, the year he was also named Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was also a second-team All-Pro player in 2011.
Cushing has a history of knee injuries, and tore his ACL four years ago against the New York Jets. He also broke his leg and tore his FCL in October 2013, so when he went down on Sunday, there was definite cause for concern.
It seems that the injury was not at all related to that contact, though. Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer speculated that Newton had injured his right leg, and Michele Tafoya said on NBC’s broadcast that Newton had been jogging on the sideline and that it appeared to be his leg or ankle that was impacted.
Newton remained on the sideline for a few minutes, but began throwing and returned to the field before backup Derek Anderson had a chance to take the field. Cam didn’t look as dominant as he had prior to being shaken up, and the Panthers went three-and-out on their next possession.
It’s clearly not a serious injury for Newton, though it’s possible that it’s throwing him off his game.