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NFL roundup: Panthers’ Newton injured in crash

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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was hospitalized in fair condition with two transverse process fractures in his lower back and no further internal injuries after he was involved in an auto accident on Tuesday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.

Newton’s pickup truck overturned during a crash on the Church Street bridge over I-277 near Bank of America Stadium about 12:30 p.m. with a second car. Pictures showed Newton smiling while being treated before he was strapped to a stretcher and placed in an ambulance. The driver of the other vehicle also had non-life-threatening injuries.

The Panthers said Newton was to remain overnight at Carolinas Medical Center for observation.

There was no immediate word on how long Newton might be out. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had the same back injury earlier this season and missed one game. If Newton is unable to return for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, veteran backup Derek Anderson likely would be the replacement.

—Rookie Johnny Manziel will start at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Manziel’s first NFL start will come in Cleveland’s final home game of the season. He’ll replace Brian Hoyer, coach Mike Pettine announced Tuesday.

Hoyer has struggled in his last four games, throwing one touchdown pass and eight interceptions. Last Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, Hoyer was 13 of 31 for 140 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions. Manziel did not play against the Colts but completed 3 of 4 passes for 54 yards while leading the Browns to a touchdown in their Nov. 30 game againist the Buffalo Bills.

After a 6-3 start, the Browns have dropped three of their last four games to fall to 7-6 and need a win over the Bengals (8-4-1) to remain in contention in the AFC North.

–Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis created some controversy on Monday night during his radio show when he called Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel a midget. On Tuesday, Lewis issued an apology.

“I’m aware that my comment on local radio last night was offensive to people of short stature and to their families and friends,” Lewis said in a statement. “It was thoughtless on my part to use the word I did, and not excusable, and I greatly regret it.”

—The San Francisco 49ers activated linebacker NaVorro Bowman to the 53-man roster from injured reserve on Tuesday and placed tight end Vance McDonald on injured reserve.

Bowman had to be put on the 53-man active roster no later than Tuesday in order to be eligible to play this season. The two-time Pro Bowler tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee during last season’s NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery on Feb. 4.

Bowman has not returned to practice with the team, but that might happen this week. He’s not expected to make his season debut Sunday at Seattle.

—Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was placed on season-ending injured reserve by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Burfict (knee) missed his sixth consecutive game last week and has not recovered from surgery the team classified as minor. He started just five games and was injured Oct. 26 at Baltimore. At the time, he was expected to miss 2-3 weeks. The 2013 Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 171 tackles and signed a long-term contract extension before the start of the 2014 season.

To take Burfict’s roster spot, the Bengals activated rookie quarterback A.J. McCarron from the reserve/non-football injury list. McCarron was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 draft. Tuesday was the deadline for the Bengals to activate McCarron after a three-week exemption.

—Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is done taking hits for the Chicago Bears this season, but his candid reply to a question about Jay Cutler’s contract Monday night showed Marshall can dish it out, too.

Marshall appeared on his weekly radio show on ESPN 1000 at a bar in Algonquin, Ill., outside of Chicago on Monday and said he understands the business mentality that the Bears could regret signing Cutler to a long-term contract before the 2014 season. Cutler signed for $126 million over seven years, with three years guaranteed.

Marshall is out for the season with a lung and rib injury that forced him to be hospitalized during last Thursday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

—Second-team All-Big Ten wide receiver Devin Funchess is done at Michigan.

The junior, projected as a first-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com, announced Tuesday that he would not return to Ann Arbor, instead pursuing a pro career in the NFL.

Funchess had 126 career catches and 15 touchdowns, lining up at tight end and wide receiver. Where he best fits in the NFL will likely be determined by athletic testing. At 6-5, 237, he compares to former Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, according to NFLDraftScout.com.

—Veteran cornerback Antoine Cason signed with the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday.

The position has been a turnstile for the Ravens since the outset of the season. Nickel cornerback Danny Gorrer will miss the rest of the season with torn knee ligaments. He was injured in the Ravens’ win at Miami on Sunday.

Cason went from starter to the street two weeks ago, when the Carolina Panthers parted with the 28-year-old veteran. He had two interceptions and four forced fumbles with the Panthers.

—Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault.

The Nashville Tennesseean first reported the allegation against Hill, 28, a fourth-round pick in the 2009 draft with the Detroit Lions.

The Titans did not comment on the investigation

—Linebacker Jake Knott was promoted to the 53-man roster of the Miami Dolphins, who are dealing with numerous injuries entering Week 15.

Knott, released by the Eagles with an injury settlement in October, spent two seasons in Philadelphia after signing as an undrafted free agent. He served a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance in the offseason. Knott was elevated from the practice squad Tuesday.

Depth is a concern for the Dolphins, who signed Knott to fill the roster spot of safety Louis Delmas.


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