Carolina Panthers reportedly making claim about Cam Newton’s injury to avoid concussion protocol punishment

This changes everything.

The Carolina Panthers are claiming that quarterback Cam Newton stumbled on the field during Sunday's 31-26 loss to the New Orleans Saints because of a knee injury and not a concussion, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Following a big hit from Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata, Newton staggered to the ground and had trouble keeping his balance, which led to him being evaluated for a concussion on the sideline.

However, the NFL's new rule — which was implemented nine days prior — states: "A player who exhibits gross motor instability or significant loss of balance must be taken to the locker room for evaluation if it is not diagnosed as an orthopedic injury."

Naturally, the Panthers claiming that Newton's lack of balance was caused by a knee injury and not a concussion would provide an alibi for not sending him to the locker room for evaluations.

According to Schefter, the quarterback underwent an MRI for the injured knee on Monday, which came back negative. However, a source confirmed to ESPN that Newton would have been medically cleared to play this weekend had the Panthers advanced to the NFC divisional playoff round.