Panthers cleared by NFL over Newton concussion evaluation

Updated: 

The NFL has ruled the Carolina Panthers did not violate concussion protocol in their handling of Cam Newton during the NFC Wild Card loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Newton required an evaluation in the medical tent on the sideline after taking a fourth-quarter sack, missing one offensive play before being cleared to return.

Following the game, which the Saints won 34-13, Newton maintained he did not suffer a head injury but was instead poked in the eye. It was later reported Newton also suffered a knee injury and underwent an MRI, though it came back negative.

The Panthers admitted that Newton embellished his injury to give back-up Derek Anderson more time to warm up after the NFL and NFLPA launched an official review. Still, the team will avoid a hefty fine of up to $150,000.

In a statement, the NFL said its review found: "Mr. Newton sustained an injury to his right eye.

"When Mr. Newton took a knee as he was walking off the field, he did so at the direction of multiple members of the Panthers sideline coaching and medical staffs.

"Mr. Newton did not display 'gross motor instability,' which would have necessitated a locker room evaluation in the Concussion Protocol.

"The medical team acted with an abundance of caution."