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Two questionable hits on Cam Newton deemed legal, source says

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Rams hits on Newton didn't violate rules (1:25)

The NFL Insiders crew reacts to the NFL deeming two questionable hits on Panthers QB Cam Newton by Mark Barron and Aaron Donald legal. (1:25)

The NFL's preliminary review of two questionable hits by Los Angeles Rams defenders on Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton have determined that neither was clearly a violation of league rules, according to a league source.

The hit by Mark Barron appeared closer to a foul than another delivered by defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Both plays involved Newton being hit in the helmet.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera had submitted one of the plays for review of NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino for review. He would not say which he contested.

The hits came in the Panthers' first game since Newton spoke directly to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about feeling unsafe because officials were not penalizing defenders who, in his opinion, illegally made contact with him while he was in the pocket.

Asked how it is that defensive players who accidentally make contact with a quarterback's helmet or facemask while rushing often seem to be penalized, while the hits Newton appeared to take directly to the head were not, a source in the league office explained, "It's not a foul if a defensive player accidentally grazes the facemask. The key word is forcible.

"If it is forcible to the head/neck area, it is a foul. With Donald, it wasn't forcible. With Barron most of the contact was to the body and we didn't see a direct forcible hit to the head.''

Game official Terry McAulay and his crew have not thrown a penalty flag in their five games this season for roughing the quarterback.