(The Sports Xchange) - Cam Newton has been hit hard plenty of times inside the pocket and out, and his running ability is one of the quarterback's strengths.

The NFL most valuable player in 2015 was hit hard enough, though, on Sunday to suffer the first documented concussion of his pro career for the Carolina Panthers.

Newton didn't see it coming.

Running for a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter of the Panthers' 48-33 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the former Heisman Trophy winner was rocked by rookie linebacker Deion Jones.

Newton, who was called for taunting on the first play of the game, appeared to be coming into a celebration a little too soon and had little idea where Jones was.

Newton, feeling the helmet-to-helmet hit, was taken to the dressing room for evaluation and declared out with a concussion. He will have to clear the protocol to be allowed to play against Tampa Bay on Oct. 10.

Coach Ron Rivera wouldn't shed any light on Newton's status after the loss to the Falcons.

"All I know is they took him in to examine him," Rivera said. "I purposely didn't ask (more) so I didn't have to answer (questions). I don't have any answers."

Newton didn't talk to the media after the game. Players under the NFL concussion protocol aren't allowed to play until cleared.

The 245-pound quarterback did something he claimed last season he would never do again, slowing before reaching the goal line.

That gave Jones a free shot at Newton, who bounced back from the hit but maintained his balance and reached the ball across the goal line.

"I don't know exactly how it happened. I'll have to see the tape," Rivera said.

The Panthers' medical staff is under review by the NFL and NFL Players Association for its handling of Newton following a collision at Denver in the opener. Newton was allowed to remain in the game despite staying on the ground for about 30 seconds after Broncos safety Darian Stewart drilled him.

Newton, who completed 14 of 25 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown against Atlanta, was replaced by Derek Anderson. The veteran backup was 17 of 23 for 172 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw a pair of interceptions.

(Editing by Andrew Both)