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Cam Newton admits to playing hurt for Panthers

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Refuting a report that his quarterback is playing through a right foot ailment, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera insisted Tuesday that Cam Newton is "not injured."

Newton didn't exactly back his coach's play on Wednesday, acknowledging to reporters that he's playing through pain.

"Hurt is hurt. If you're asking me am I hurt right now? Yeah, I'm hurt," Newton said. "I haven't felt 100 percent in a long time. But is that ... my excuse why we're on a losing streak? No, absolutely not. You ask me a question: Is Cam Newton hurt? Yes, I'm hurt. And that's all honesty. But can I play, yes I can play and I will be playing."

Quite frankly, there's not a hint of controversy here.

For nearly a century, NFL players have pointed out the difference between being hurt and being injured. As Newton said Wednesday, it's a case of "mind over matter."

After taking hits for 10 weeks, most players around the league are suiting up at less than peak strength by mid-November.

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Newton's case is unique, because he has absorbed twice as many hits as any quarterback over the past three years.

"He's a different kind of athlete," Rivera told ESPN's Ed Werder last month. "This guy is a warrior."

It's Rivera's duty to protect Newton. If the quarterback is merely hurt as opposed to injured, that means not disclosing a weakness for opposing players to target and opposing coaches to game-plan against.

This is the fine line that 32 coaches toe on a weekly basis.

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