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

Dane FletcherMay 27 02:33a

Free-agent LB Dane Fletcher (Buccaneers) has returned to the New England Patriots on a one-year contract.

Devonta FreemanMay 26 09:53p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman worked with the first-team offense during organized team activities Tuesday, May 26.

Charles SimsMay 26 05:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims has a solid chance of beating out RB Doug Martin for Tampa Bay's starting running back gig, according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.

A.J. JenkinsMay 26 01:02p

Free-agent WR A.J. Jenkins (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, May 26, according to a source. Jenkins was the 30th overall pick by the San [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 26 08:43a

Updating an ongoing story, the Dallas Cowboys have moved on from the idea of trading for Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, despite persistent rumors, according to The Dallas Morning [ More ]

A.J. McCarronMay 25 10:37p

Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron (shoulder) is healthy and hoping to push QB Andy Dalton in 2015. 'We wanted him in our building so bad and it happened and [ More ]

Ray McDonaldMay 25 04:42p

Updating previous reports, Chicago Bears DE Ray McDonald has been released Monday, May 25, just hours after being arrested for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment.

Adrian PetersonMay 25 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson still wants to be traded, according to a source. Peterson intends to skip all organized team activities, which would cause him to lose $250,000 in workout bonuses.

Adrian PetersonMay 24 09:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has informed head coach Mike Zimmer that he will not attend the optional practices that begin Tuesday, May 26, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Tom BradyMay 22 04:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard by commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFL rejected a motion by the NFL Players [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 22 03:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has not been scheduled at this time.

Ray RiceMay 22 11:42a

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) could be a consideration for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, speculates The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota. He cites Cowboys owner and general [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 22 09:52a

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains in pursuit of being traded or receiving a new contract and remains away from the organization during voluntary workouts. [ More ]

William BeattyMay 21 12:02p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty (chest) underwent successful surgery Thursday, May 21, to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty will need approximately five to six months of recovery time.

Derek CarrMay 20 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) will not need surgery on his injured finger and may be able to throw again before the end of offseason workouts, according to his agent.

Joseph RandleMay 20 09:23p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle is the most likely option to lead the team's running back by committee approach in 2015. Randle has the most experience in the system, [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:53p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty's (pectoral) torn pectoral will require surgery and Beatty's recovery time is expected to be around five months. Beatty suffered the [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) tore his pectoral while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source, and will undergo surgery. One [ More ]

Josh HillMay 20 03:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is slated as the starting tight end this season with TE Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. TE Benjamin Watson could give Hill a run for his money, however.

William BeattyMay 20 03:13p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) suffered a potentially serious shoulder injury while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source. Surgery is a possibility.

Geno SmithMay 20 03:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and will not see competition in training camp, according to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Tom BradyMay 20 03:03p

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal will not be affected by the team's decision to accept their sanctions. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to [ More ]

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

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