In his return to action, Cam Newton's arm looked fine, but it was his left foot that became the biggest concern.
Returning to the field for the first time since Week 15 last season when his year was ended with a shoulder injury, Newton left Thursday's 10-3 preseason loss against the New England Patriots after the third series and limped to the training table with a left foot injury and did not return to the game. Newton was briefly looked at and eventually escorted to the locker room.
The injury has been characterized as a sprain and X-rays were negative, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source. Newton is scheduled for further tests on Friday.
"He's in a walking boot, that's all I can tell you," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said grimly in the postgame press conference, adding he had no further details and had yet to fully talk to trainers.
Newton's night ended on a third-and-10 play when he was sacked by defensive lineman Adam Butler. Newton's return saw him complete 4 of 6 passes for 30 yards and most troubling was sacked twice in his three series.
Following a pair of handoffs to Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey to open the game, Newton's first pass came on third down and saw him hit receiver D.J. Moore over the middle for a four-yard gain. In a troublesome foreshadowing, Newton ended the play on his back after a hit from a Patriots defender.
Though Newton's shoulder looked fine and his throws were on the money, he never went long.
Newton's shoulder recovery has suddenly become the second greatest concern when it comes to his health, however.
Every step back on the comeback trail for Newton, much less every throw with a repaired shoulder, has been carefully monitored by the Panthers and scrutinized and focused upon by fans and scribes, alike.
Against the reigning Super Bowl champions Thursday night, Newton, who was shut down last year with his team out of the playoff hunt and put on injured reserve ahead of shoulder surgery, took his most important strides yet.
But just like that, his return might well have been a major step back, as Panthers fans wait with fingers crossed to hear further word on the status of his left foot.