The Carolina Panthers can’t afford to dig a deeper hole after a 1-4 start, and the good news is the reigning NFL’s MVP is taking steps toward a return.

Cam Newton isn’t all the way back, but he did take a few reps in practice on Wednesday. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton mostly took scout-team reps.


Newton still has a ways to go. Steve Reed of the Associated Press said Rivera clarified that Newton is still in the concussion protocol and the team is hopeful he feels well on Thursday after some practice activity.

That Newton could return to practice in a limited role is a positive, though concussion symptoms can be tough to predict. Newton is obviously still experiencing symptoms more than a week after taking a huge hit by Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones. ESPN’s Britt McHenry said Newton’s main symptom is he has just felt “dull.”

The Panthers need Newton back. With Derek Anderson starting on Monday night, and throwing a bad interception into his end zone in the fourth quarter, the Panthers lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-14. They are alone in last place of the NFC South. They’re not finished this season yet, but they are in a bad spot and can’t afford to sink any further. The Panthers play at NFC South rival New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

The Panthers obviously aren’t replicating their magical 2015 season this year. But they’d at least like to get their quarterback back and see if they can make a push for the playoffs before it’s too late. [/restrict]