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Cam Newton Having Ankle Surgery; Recovery Time Four Months
In a rather surprising development, the Panthers announced that Cam Newton is scheduled to undergo minor ankle surgery on Wednesday. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the procedure will "tighten ankle ligaments" that had been giving Newton pain since a late-season injury.

Per a statement released by the Panthers, team physician Robert Anderson, a renowned foot specialist, will conduct the surgery, which will require a recovery of about four months. For fantasy football owners, it sounds like this procedure and the recovery will be of less concern than the team's inexperienced receiving corps.

“The ankle was sore after the San Francisco game and we wanted to see if rest would calm it down, but it is still bothering him and the decision was made to address it,” Panthers head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion said in a statement from the team.

Newton is fully expected to return for training camp after missing some or all organized team activities.

Newton took his game to a new level in 2013, establishing career bests with 24 touchdown passes, a 61.7-percent completion rate and a quarterback rating of 88.8. He also became the only player in NFL history to have 50 of more touchdown passes (64) and 25 or more rushing touchdowns (28) in any three-year span. It just happened to be his first three years.

Yet, Newton still has significant room for improvement -- receiving corps willing.

In case you haven't been following along, the release of Steve Smith (who went on to sign with the Ravens) and subsequent free-agent departures Brandon LaFell (now a Patriot), Ted Ginn (now a Cardinal) and Domenik Hixon (now a Bear), leave the team bereft of experienced receiving talent.

More specifically, the top receivers on the roster today are Tavarres King and Marvin McNutt. The Panthers also have Kealoha Pilares, Toney Clemons, Brenton Bersin and R.J. Webb.

Only Pilares and Clemons (with a combined five career catches and one touchdown) can claim credit to a regular-season catch.

There are still some options in the free-agent market, but it's dwindling quickly and all the high-end talent is gone.

Kenny Britt is among those the team is said to be interested in. Other options include Jerricho Cotchery, Santonio Holmes (although reports indicate he's not certain to pass a physical), Miles Austin, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Robert Meachem and Josh Morgan.

It's not an ideal situation for the Panthers -- which means it could be for Britt.

Carolina has drafted 16 wide receivers over the 19 drafts in team history but has picked one in the first round just once. Outside of the three drafts in which the Panthers didn't have a first-round pick, their No. 28 overall spot this year is the latest first-round choice they've entered the draft with and is a spot that could lend itself to considering a rare first-round wide receiver.

Actually, strike that "could' and make it "should."

Meanwhile, I'll keep a close eye on Newton's progress and report back as developments warrant (watch the News & Views section of the site for more).