Cam Newton has ankle surgery

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton underwent surgery on Wednesday afternoon to repair ligament damage in his left ankle.

The full recovery process is four months, which would take Newton until the start of training camp. However, he could be freed to throw on a limited basis before then.

"Dr. (Robert) Anderson did not find anything unexpected in the procedure and the surgery went well," Carolina head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion said in a statement.

Newton nicked his ankle in a Week 16 victory against the New Orleans Saints, but played in the regular-season finale at Atlanta and in the NFC divisional playoff loss against San Francisco without noticeable issue.

The team hoped rest would heal the injury, but soreness persisted and it was decided to address it now so Newton would be ready for camp and not miss any games.

Newton will miss much of the offseason workouts and valuable time throwing to a new corps of wide receivers, after the team released Steve Smith and watched three others leave via free agency.

ESPN's Stephania Bell, a board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist, said Newton's effectiveness as a runner shouldn't be impacted by the surgery.

"In fact, regaining full motion and strength are far more important in the early phase than full-speed running," she wrote in her blog Wednesday.

Carolina has two other quarterbacks on its roster -- recently re-signed backup Derek Anderson and Matt Blanchard, an undrafted player who was signed to the practice squad in October.