2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Newton, Panthers heating up a little too late

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2012-12-10 16:07

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers offense are finally hitting their groove.

Too bad for Carolina it's a case of too little, too late.

At 4-9, Carolina's playoff aspirations evaporated several weeks ago, but Newton's vastly improved play in recent weeks gives promise that his stellar rookie season in 2011 was far from a fluke and better times are ahead.

After a rough start this season, Newton has tallied 1,363 yards from scrimmage with 11 combined touchdowns and, here's the really impressive part, no turnovers in the past four games.

Carolina piled up 365 yards of offense in 2 1/2 quarters Sunday against NFC South champion Atlanta and built a 23-0 lead and held on to upset the Falcons 30-20.

Newton finished with stellar numbers, completing 23 of 35 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns. He also ran for 116 yards, completing a jaw-dropping 72-yard touchdown jaunt along the left sidelines by somersaulting into the end zone before getting to his feet and pretending to rip open his shirt like Superman.

``Spectacular,'' Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of Newton's performance.

``The way he played and the things that he did, that shows you what potentially he is going to become. We just have to keep working and he has to keep growing as a football player. These last five weeks now have been pretty doggone solid. I'm very pleased with his development,'' Rivera said.

After ranking near the bottom of the league on offense most of the year and struggling to close out close games, the Panthers are averaging 397 yards and 23 points per game over the last four weeks entering Sunday's game at San Diego.

That's a bittersweet stat for Rivera to swallow.

``The disappointing thing is that's what we can be,'' Rivera said. ``We know that. Based on what we did, how we did it and who we did it with, that's the disappointing thing. ... We've found balance, we have. Unfortunately we didn't do it sooner.''

After Sunday's win over Atlanta, Newton downplayed talk of being ``in the zone.''

``I just think this whole offense is clicking,'' Newton said. ``We just have to connect the dots. When the offense is on, the defense has to step up, and when the defense is on, the offense has to pick it up also, and special teams.''

Rivera said Newton has handled himself more professionally in recent weeks, particularly after losses.

That's always been a touchy subject for Newton, a guy who barely lost at the previous level claiming national championships at Blind Junior College and Auburn.

Rivera said Newton has also been more accepting of what offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula have been teaching him after a disappointing start to the season in which Newton only threw five TD passes in his first seven games and turned it over 12 times.

``I think his football acumen has improved,'' Rivera said. ``I think his footwork has gotten better, his technique, his style, things that he does. It's like all of a sudden the light bulb has gone off and I think that has been big.''

Still, for Newton, the effort was good, but not good enough.

After the game Sunday he stopped briefly in his postgame press conference to berate himself over the plays he didn't make.

Even after Carolina piled up 475 total yards in offense against the Falcons, Newton was thinking about a throw that got away. He had receiver Louis Murphy open down the left sideline on a long pass play but threw it too far to the left and out of bounds where Murphy had no chance to make a play on it.

``Some plays I wish I could have back,'' Newton said.

However, the one play Newton left everyone talking about was his highlight reel touchdown run where he got a downfield block from Steve Smith to spring him to the end zone. For all the grief the Panthers have taken about their zone read option not being effective, this play worked like a charm.

Tight end Greg Olsen said it was a play similar to what they'd been running all season but with a little wrinkle.

``We did a nice job dressing it up, starting out a receiver at the back and they really keyed in on DeAngelo Williams,'' Olsen said. ``I came around, they blitzed the safety and we just had a great call there at the right time for that look. They blitzed that safety and that's my guy. It's like you drew it up on paper.''

Then he added with a smile, ``but you need a 6-foot-5 quarterback to run 80 yards. We were fortunate to have that.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Paul RichardsonMar 26 12:43a

Seattle Seahawks WR Paul Richardson (knee) might not be ready for the start of the season, head coach Pete Carroll indicated Wednesday, March 25. Carroll did say Richardson's rehab [ More ]

Blake BortlesMar 25 08:43p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles received an endorsement from head coach Gus Bradley Tuesday, March 24. Speaking at the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the NFL Annual Meetings Tuesday, Bradley [ More ]

Travis KelceMar 25 06:03p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at roughly 250 pounds in 2014, but head coach Andy Reid wants Kelce to report bigger in 2015, and Reid thinks Kelce [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 25 05:03p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota isn't an option for the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, according to head coach Sean Payton. Payton said [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 04:33p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is wanted back in Minnesota, but the question is if Peterson wants to come back. Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't believe Peterson [ More ]

Ifeanyi MomahMar 25 03:13p

Free-agent TE Ifeanyi Momah (Lions) signed a one-year contract with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, March 25. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Terence NewmanMar 25 01:53p

Free-agent CB Terence Newman (Bengals) agreed to a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings Wednesday, March 25, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jordy NelsonMar 25 12:23p

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson (hip) underwent hip surgery this offseason and is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Victor CruzMar 25 11:53a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) could miss the start of the 2015 season with a torn patellar tendon in his knee, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. [ More ]

Josh HillMar 25 11:03a

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is expected to have a bigger role in the offense in 2015. Head coach Sean Payton has mentioned him quite a bit since [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 25 10:53a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is disgruntled and reportedly wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Mike Zimmer said the team has no plans to trade him.

Cody LatimerMar 24 09:33p

The Denver Broncos plan to use WR Cody Latimer as the third receiver behind WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in 2015. 'I think it's time for him to [ More ]

Casey MatthewsMar 24 06:32p

Free-agent LB Casey Matthews (Eagles) agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings Tuesday, March 24. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

R. Griffin IIIMar 24 04:42p

Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan said that the team will go with the best player available in the 2015 NFL Draft with the No. 5 overall pick, which [ More ]

Michael CrabtreeMar 24 03:02p

Free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) is having a hard time being signed this offseason, reportedly due to concerns regarding lower-leg injuries and a negative perception about his attitude.

Ray McDonaldMar 24 02:02p

Free-agent DE Ray McDonald (49ers) is signing an undisclosed deal with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24.

Stephen BowenMar 24 01:32p

Free-agent DE Stephen Bowen (Redskins) is signing an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Tuesday, March 24.

Geno SmithMar 24 01:22p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback ahead of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick entering training camp this summer, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. 'You [ More ]

Zach MettenbergerMar 24 01:12p

Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is a realistic option for the Tennessee Titans with the second overall selection in this year's NFL Draft, and head coach Ken Whisenhunt is impressed [ More ]

Jarvis JenkinsMar 24 10:42a

Free-agent DE Jarvis Jenkins (Redskins) agreed with the Chicago Bears Tuesday, March 24, on a one-year deal.

Johnny ManzielMar 24 08:52a

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel is expected back with the team for offseason workouts April 20 after completing more than two months of treatment.

Adrian PetersonMar 23 07:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, said Monday, March 23, that he doesn't think 'it's in Adrian's best interest to play in Minnesota' in 2015 and beyond. [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 06:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is expected to be part of the Vikings next season, according to general manager Rick Spielman. 'Adrian's a member of our football team,' Spielman [ More ]

Drew BreesMar 23 01:22p

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees will not be traded, according to general manager Mickey Loomis. Recent speculation said that Brees may be on the trade block after his [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 23 12:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's preference is to play elsewhere than with the Vikings in 2015, according to a league source. He is under contract through the 2017 season [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMar 22 08:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's future remains unclear, but head coach Mike Zimmer recently said that the Vikings are 'excited' to have him back. Zimmer had previously said that [ More ]

James HarrisonMar 22 12:42p

Free-agent LB James Harrison (Steelers) signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, March 22. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Branden OliverMar 21 03:52p

San Diego Chargers RB Branden Oliver is penciled in as the starting running back at this point.

EJ ManuelMar 21 12:52a

Buffalo Bills QB EJ Manuel is not locked in as the starting quarterback. Head coach Rex Ryan said Friday, March 20, that the quarterback competition will be open. 'It's [ More ]

Kevin VickersonMar 20 05:52p

Free-agent DT Kevin Vickerson (Chiefs) agreed to terms on an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Friday, March 20.

Matt MooreMar 20 04:32p

Free-agent QB Matt Moore (Dolphins) re-signed with the Miami Dolphins Friday, March 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonMar 20 02:42p

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is clearly wanted back by the organization, and general manager Rick Spielman once again stressed that they will make every [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group