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Understanding Cam Newton’s Injury

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The Patriots shocked the football world Sunday night when they signed former NFL MVP Cam Newton to a one-year contract. Before getting too excited about what Newton can bring to New England’s offense, it’s important to understand the injury he’s recovering from.

Newton had surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in December. Newton suffered the injury in a preseason game against the Patriots and originally planned to forgo surgery, but changed course once it became clear his season was over and his recovery would be aided by going under the knife.

This appears to be the play Newton was injured on:

The timetable for recovery after surgery is 5-6 months, which means Newton should have just recently fully recovered if his rehab went according to schedule. However, his foot issues could prosist.

“A stable Lisfranc complex is crucial for walking, running, jumping and cutting.” Dave Siebert, M.D. said in 2013. “Players and medical personnel fear Lisfranc injuries for a few reasons: They can linger, they can be unpredictable and they are frequently marked by complicated, frustrating recoveries.”

Dr. Robert Anderson, former co-chairman of the NFL’s foot and ankle committee, reiterated much of the same, “That’s the top of the arch and that’s where a lot of the stress goes on a running athlete. In order to push off or power through the foot, you have to have a stable midfoot.” Anderson did say that the injury is “not a career-ending.”

Newton is notorious for his ability to cut and juke, which is what makes his injury so concerning for NFL teams. Players like Le’Veon Bell in 2013 and Taysom Hill in college suffered similar injuries and returned to their peak athletically, but both were much younger than Newton at the time of their injuries. Conversely, running back Darren McFadden suffered a Lisfranc injury in 2011 after rushing for 1,157 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2010. McFadden would never reach those marks again and didn’t rush for over 1,000 yards again until 2015 with the 4-12 Dallas Cowboys.

What this means is there’s a lot of unknown in regards to Newton’s future health. Foot problems can linger, and only time will tell if Newton’s do or not. It’s impossible to know whether a player will have nagging foot issues until another injury pops up and that likely won’t happen until Newton is back on the football field.

The Lisfranc may fall short of the catastrophic nature of Achilles and ACL injuries, but they’re not ideal for players who rely on their mobility to be productive like Newton. If he can’t scramble the way he once did, it’s hard to imagine him finding the same success he was able to earlier in his career. However, there is hope that Newton’s days as an electrifying mobile quarterback are not over just yet.

Photo: (Charles Krupa – AP Photo)

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