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Blandino: Posture key to Cam Newton's protection

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The fallout from the Carolina Panthers' Week 1 loss to the Denver Broncos centered on a series of helmet-to-helmet hits absorbed by Cam Newton.

Coach Ron Rivera intimated that his quarterback doesn't receive the same "veteran favoritism" as other established stars due to Newton's size and physicality.

The NFL's vice president of officiating confirmed a report by NFL Network's Judy Battista that one of the unflagged hits on Newton should have been a penalty.

"We reviewed all of the hits in the game, just like we do for every other game," Dean Blandino said on Tuesday's edition of NFL Total Access, "and there was one call that we felt was missed."

The blow in question was delivered by Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who launched himself into Newton, hitting the quarterback in the helmet.

While it's true that Newton absorbs more hits than traditional dropback passers such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees, Blandino clarified that quarterbacks lose protection when they transition from passing threat to running threat.

"It's basically the posture will dictate his protection," Blandino explained. "So if he's in running posture, ball tucked, advancing it as a runner, he's treated like a runner and he doesn't get special protection. If he's in a passing posture, whether he's inside the pocket/outside the pocket, he's still going to get passer protection -- head, neck, crown to the body -- those types of protection. So it's the posture that dictates the protection.

"You can be scrambling in the pocket/outside the pocket, tuck the ball and then bring the ball up to throw and throw a forward pass. So you go from a runner to a passer again, so it can go back and forth."

When Newton finally drew a personal foul late in the fourth quarter, many questioned why it was ruled an offsetting penalty due to his own intentional grounding infraction on the play.

In an era of heightened concussion awareness, shouldn't the helmet-to-helmet hit trump the intentional grounding penalty?

"That's the rule," Blandino said. "If it were a 5-yard penalty on the offense, say it was an illegal formation or an illegal shift, that 5-yard penalty would go away and only the 15-yard personal foul would be enforced. But if it's a 10-yard penalty or a foul like grounding, the fouls offset."

In other words, the offsetting penalties are an issue decided by the NFL's competition committee rather than the gameday officials.

Although Newton will continue to take legal hits as a runner, the controversy surrounding the 2016 NFL Kickoff should lead officials to keep a more watchful eye on his head area while he's in the process of throwing.

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