Carolina Panthers offensive player to watch

QB CAM NEWTON

How he beats you: Boasting size, athleticism, a great arm and speed, the 6-foot-5, 248-pound Cam Newton has made a smoother transition to the NFL than many expected. Through six games, Newton has thrown for seven touchdowns and rushed for six. Like Eagles QB Michael Vick, Newton has good mobility. He isn’t quite as elusive, but still is hard to tackle. “Cam will run, but he’s not really Michael-Vick-4.3-speed,” Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett says. “He’s a big body, who’s hard to get down. He’ll stand live and he’ll throw the ball. … It’s kind of funny, when you watch the tape, guys kind of bounce off him and you wonder, ‘Does he know he’s getting hit?’”

How to stop him: Far from a finished product, Newton has thrown nine interceptions and fumbled twice. Look for the Redskins to try disguise and mix up their coverages in an attempt to confuse Newton. Another key: preventing Newton from making plays with his legs. “You’ve got to stop the runs and make him one-dimensional,” defensive lineman Kedric Golston says. “Hit him, make sure we have good coverage on the back end and try to get to him up front so he doesn’t have all day to throw the football.”

Bottom line: Newton has one of the best receivers in the league in Steve Smith, who ranks second in the NFL with 675 receiving yards and 21.1 yards per catch, and two talented running backs in DeAngelo Williams, who averages 5.2 yards per carry, and Jonathan Stewart, who averages 4.8 yards per carry. And don’t forget tight end Greg Olsen, who ranks second on the team with 25 catches for 282 yards and three touchdowns, and fellow tight end Jeremy Shockey (18 catches, 259 yards). Haslett says Carolina’s offensive line ranks among the best in the league and just may be the best Washington will face all season.

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.

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