What to Expect When You're Expecting a healthy QB: The Case for Cam
Cam Newton is going to be the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots this upcoming pandemic-laced season. At least I think he will. I don't have much faith in Jarret "Stidd" Stidham, even though his teammates might.
Anyways, if Cam does start, it opens up a lot of unknowns about this upcoming season in regards to Cam's health and what he has "left in the tank"
Cam has had 2 major injuries which resulted in multiple surgerires the last few years that directly impact his ability to be an effective quarterback. Let's Review:
The shoulder surgery in 2017 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff on his throwing arm, which likely lead to an arthroscopic "clean up" R shoulder surgery in Jan. 2019.
The Lisfranc foot injury in 2019 in his left foot (planting foot when throwing the football).
The Pesky Shoulder
Newton's repaired a partially torn rotator cuff in March 2017 and was able to return and play 16 games in 2017 and 14 games in 2018, although statistically they were not his best seasons. Cam completed almost 67-68% of his passes in those years. (Not bad)
Pictured above is an example of the rotator cuff and an interpretation of the damage represented in a tear, very close to the shoulder joint.
Then, in January of 2019, he underwent arthroscopic (is a minimally invasive surgical procedure on a joint) surgery in the same shoulder in order to "clean up" some arthritic like symptoms. The damage was said to be “pretty small” and indicates the rotator cuff was not involved. This is great news, but my estimation is that his second shoulder injury could be from the expedited return after the March 2017 rotator cuff surgery.
This hurry to start the 2017 season on time could also have caused the stress leading to cartilage damage, since the muscles likely were being asked to do too much, too son. Having a weakened rotator cuff can alter the alightment of the mechancis and stress of the shoulder, causing expidited arhtiric and cartilage damage. So what does all this mean?
Pictured above is an example of arthritic and cartilage damage of the shoulder. This "bone on bone" damage would limit range of motion and cause pain.
Fantasy Football implications
Cam has always relied heavily on his above-average arm strength to make big time throws. This has sometime lead to bad mechanics and less than stellar footwork from Cam, and a tendency to not step into his throws (because he was able to compensate with a very strong arm). However, now that his arm strength will likely be somewhat diminished due to the multiple surgeries, Cam will have to improve his footwork if he wants to have the same downfield arms strength he is used to.
If his footwork does not improve, expect a decline in production. Two surgeries on the same shoulder in 2 years is never a good sign, and I would expect Cam's arm strength and already questionable accuracy to be on the decline this upcoming season. His footwork will heavily rely on his rehabilitation from his Lisfranc foot injury, which we will get into next.
What's a Lisfranc?
Newton initially suffered a left foot sprain during a preseason game in 2019. Though he was able to start each of the first two games of the regular season, he was sidelined after re-aggravating his foot a month later.
The injury failed to properly heal on its own and Carolina subsequently placed Newton on injured reserve followed by a surgery that would feature a recovery timetable of eight to 10 weeks for a “relatively simple” procedure in the Lisfranc area.
Cam had the surgery in December of 2019, which means he should definitely be 100% with his foot by the start of the 2020 season.
The Lisfranc joint is where the metatarsal bones (long bones leading up to the toes and stop at the ball of the foot) and the tarsal bones (bones in the arch) connect in the mid-foot. These two bones are joined by the Lisfranc ligament which is important for maintaining proper alignment/strength of the joint and holds all those bones together.
Lisfranc injuries occur when a twisting or heavy crushing force is applied to the foot. It most often occurs when the athlete's foot is plantar flexed (toes pointed down) and another player lands on the heel or when another player steps on the players midfoot or "Lisfranc area".
Last time we saw Cam, he was sailing the football on all his throws, he couldn't step into any throws due to pain, which was magnified by his already poor footwork when throwing the football. If he can avoid overcompensating for the foot injury and fix some mobility issues with his shoulder, seeing the old Cam Newton may be possible.
Fantasy Football implications
As stated before his accuracy and his footwork will heavily rely on his rehabilitation from his Lisfrac foot injury, which by now should be 100%. I predict Cam to have 85-90% of his usual arm strength, which probably places him still in the top 10 of QB arm strength in the league. If he meshes well with the Belichek system, I wouldn't be surprised if cam has one of his better years, however, I do think his 2015 MVP days are behind him.
Dr. Regi Bastien, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
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