The start of the NFL season is two weeks away, and amid the quarterback competitions, final preseason games, and photos of Aaron Rodgers getting his eclipse on, two notable players are flying under the radar despite concerns surrounding their health. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck both had shoulder surgery this offseason, and their recoveries have limited them in training camp. Though it’s reported that Newton will likely take the field for the first time Thursday in Carolina’s third preseason game, Luck’s timeline is a bit more of a question mark. On Tuesday’s Ringer NFL Show podcast, Robert Mays and Kevin Clark explore the effect that any missed time from Newton or Luck would have on their respective teams.
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.
Clark: Cam Newton has surgery—he has shoulder problems—and he has been pretty slow to get out there. I was out [at Panthers training camp] in August and he wasn't throwing. … On Monday, he participated in every drill for the first time, but look—if you're doing that in late August, that's still a sign that there's a tough road to go, and I just feel like we're going to see him start very slowly. We have a couple of times talked about the Panthers being a bounce-back team with Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Samuel, by the way, is healthy again for the first time since college, basically. And so I think the big hiccup here is, what if Cam Newton is not ready to play? What if he goes out there too early, or they throw out [backup QB] Derek Anderson in Week 1? I still have full confidence that Cam Newton in Week 1 is going to look good, but ... I mean, there's a chance there, man, that he starts slow and the whole season goes downhill.
Mays: The Cam Newton thing I feel like is interesting, because it's not as if it's just a complete carryover with their offense. The reason that we're excited—part of the reason, at least—about Carolina is that we feel like the dynamic that could be there with McCaffrey and with Samuel [is] going to be a little different than the way they played before. So you would have liked Cam Newton to get some time with those guys and with that approach coming into the season. I know the terminology is going to be the same—I know that [Newton]'s spent a lot of time with [offensive coordinator] Mike Shula, there's a relationship there. It's not a disaster. I just feel like not all continuity situations are the same. Sometimes it's different in terms of how much is going to change—how much do you know? [Jaguars head coach] Doug Marrone is a first-year coach, but he still has experience with Blake Bortles. Mike Shula's been the offensive coordinator in Carolina for years, but you would assume this is going to look a bit different. And with that in mind, you're right, I think I would temper my expectations for how good Carolina can be as a team that's supposed to bounce back in a big way.
Clark: Andrew Luck—you know, he's still not where he needs to be. The Colts refuse to get a competent guy there [as a backup]. I mean, I guess that's to suggest that Andrew Luck is healthier than people think and that he'll be there Week 1, but man, that could be a massive disaster if you've got Scott Tolzien [starting for] the Indianapolis Colts. And what happens if Andrew Luck comes back after six weeks on [the physically unable to perform list] and he looks good and they win eight of their last 10 games, [but] their playoff run was screwed up because they had Tolzien [starting] for the first month of the season? It's ridiculous.
Mays: I guess I understand that. I also think the Colts just wouldn't care if they went 6-10 this year. Part of me is just of that opinion.
Clark: Andrew Luck would care! Andrew Luck is really good, man! ... We've seen him create a lot of crap out of nothing.
Mays: I'll be curious to see how that unfolds.