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Cam Newton injures back vs. Patriots; X-rays negative

Cam Newton was up and down last week in his first preseason game since undergoing ankle surgery in the offseason. This time around was mostly down.

The Panthers didn't score a point in five drives with Newton under center. He also took a hard shot to the back on a scramble midway through the first quarter, and missed a play. He was not overly accurate upon his return, and Carolina wound up losing in New England 30-7.

Newton got X-rays during the second half of the game, which came back negative, NFL Media's Albert Breer noted after the game. Newton has a contusion in the middle of his back. Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicated that he will play next week because the offense needs to work on its timing. That much was clear on Friday.

Left tackle Byron Bell had problems with Patriots pass rusher Chandler Jones. When Newton did have time to throw, he struggled to find open receivers. Rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin made a few contested catches, and Newton missed badly on a few throws down the field.

Newton has not looked fully confident in his ankle in two preseason appearances. He's been hesitant to scramble, and he struggled to get away from defenders Friday. Carolina's passing game has plenty of work left to do before the regular season. 

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