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Rivera: Deion Jones did nothing wrong in hit on Cam

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We're once again taking a look at the hits Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is taking once he breaks the pocket, this time thanks to a high-contact shot from Falcons linebacker Deion Jones in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss.

The hit sent Newton into concussion protocol and forced some to wonder if he could have avoided contact by diving low or not pulling up as he neared the goal line.

On Monday, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, a former linebacker and vocal supporter for the push to take a more conservative view on the hits Newton takes as a runner, said that Jones did nothing wrong. Rivera said that if he was the linebacker on that play, he would have done the same thing.

"Well to me, because as a defensive player, you see the guy coming to the goal line and your estimation if he hasn't crossed it yet, you're gonna pull the trigger and I think that's what the young man did," Rivera told reporters on Monday.

He added that he has no update on Newton's status because "I don't want to say something that would go against what the trainers are saying or the doctors for that matter, so I just kind of wait and go from there."

When asked if this is too much for Newton -- he was sacked eight times last week against the Vikings and once this week against the Falcons -- Rivera had this:

"Again, he's the one who can answer the question more than anybody else. I just think we try and do the best we can to protect him. That was a play where he had receivers out in routes and he elected to run with it. Again, that's who he is. He's not gonna go quietly. He's gonna fight and scratch and claw and because of it he gets exposed. And again, there are most certainly some that I wish he'd be careful of it even moreso. Again, I thought the protection, the things we wanted to do protections, the different chips that we used, the techniques that we were using. We only allowed one sack and that was on a heck of a move from Freeney and he's been doing that his whole career. But other than that he was pretty well protected."

There are a few truths we know to be absolute in Carolina: The team will not succeed at the 2015 level without Newton. Newton is successful in part because of his imposing frame and fearlessness in the run game. Newton, since the Super Bowl, has been the target of some relentless pass rushes.

All of this is now finally coming to a boiling point. Rivera has done an admirable job of both advocating for Newton's safety and understanding the responsibility and mentality of a defensive player in the NFL. While he has taken some criticism, there's never been a question about his concern for Newton personally. We'll see if that forces him to make any chances through the week as Newton makes his way through concussion protocol.

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