Off the field, Cam Newton was the same guy he always is on Sundays, taking fashion to the same, well, interesting level with a game-day outfit that pretty much defied description.
On the field, the Carolina Panthers quarterback was somebody else — almost exclusively a pocket passer. He had only three carries for a total of minus-2 yards, the least in his career, in the team’s season-opening home loss to the Los Angeles Rams. After the second shoulder procedure of his career and an ankle injury, maybe that development shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
When he was asked how it felt to have his number called so infrequently, Newton replied simply, “Great.”
But Newton rarely attempted anything longer than a 20-yard pass and overthrew Curtis Samuel, who was open 25 yards downfield during an important moment in the fourth quarter. His longest completion of the day went for 17 yards.
“I’m not going to get into no philosophical discussion about throwing the ball downfield,” Newton said (via the Charlotte Observer), “because that’s not what this game is about. I took what the defense gives me. … You don’t say to Coach, ‘Hey Coach, let’s throw the ball deep and just see where that gets us.’ That’s not our mentality.”
Newton passed for 239 yards as the Panthers scored 24 points in the second half of the 30-27 loss to the reigning NFC champion Rams. Running back Christian McCaffrey shouldered most of the burden of carrying the offense, with 128 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries and 10 receptions for 81 yards. That’s wasn’t because Newton was limited, Coach Ron Rivera said.
And Newton insisted that he feels fine.
“That’s what I’m most optimistic about. … Whatever play was called, I felt confident,” he said. “I didn’t even think about my shoulder.”
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