• 64°

Same Cam? Newton’s 2019 debut looked a lot like 2018 finish

CHARLOTTE (AP) — Cam Newton admitted he was a “little rusty” coming off a shoulder injury that ended last season early.
But Newton’s season debut Sunday raised questions about whether this was rust or a carryover from 2018, when the shoulder problem turned the 2015 league MVP into a shell of his former self.
Los Angeles linebacker Clay Matthews said the Rams came into the game expecting “MVP Cam.”
Instead, they got the watered-down version.
Similar to the second half of last season, Newton didn’t throw the ball downfield much in Carolina’s 30-27 loss to the Rams. His longest completion went for 17 yards. His one attempt at a semi-deep pass — about 30 yards through the air — sailed over the head of wide receiver Curtis Samuel.
And Newton the runner was nonexistent.
The NFL’s third all-time leading rusher among QBs was held to a career-low minus-2 yards on three carries. The Panthers only called one designed run for the 30-year-old Newton, a quarterback draw. That’s uncharacteristic for a player who has made a living off the zone read option and who has more touchdowns rushing than any QB in NFL history.
He didn’t scramble much and was sacked three times, losing 23 yards.
Newton said after the game he never thought about his surgically repaired right shoulder during the game. He practiced all last week and was not listed on the injury report after suffering a mid-foot sprain in the team’s third preseason game, so that was believed to be a non-factor, too.
“I’ve got to get on the same page with everybody,” Newton said. “But, all in all, we had our opportunities today. I think that’s the most frustrating part. Because you feel this is your time.”
Newton hadn’t played since Dec. 17, sitting out the final two games when it became apparent he couldn’t throw the ball more than 20 yards downfield.
He showed he could air it out in training camp with a handful of 40- and 50-yard passes, but that was without pass rushers racing his way. Despite having a speedy crop of young wide receivers that includes D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, Newton elected not to test the deep waters, although coaches insist he has that opportunity if he wants it.
“I’m not going to get into no philosophical discussion about throwing the ball downfield because that’s not what this game is about,” Newton said. “I took what the defense gives me. I go through the specific reads in a timely manner. You don’t call plays. You don’t say to coach, ‘Hey coach, let’s throw the ball deep and see where that gets us.’ That’s not our mentality.”
Newton finished 25 of 38 for 239 yards against the Rams, but he had a backward pass to Moore that resulted in a fumble inside the Panthers 10-yard line, and an ill-timed interception with 5:55 left in the game on a pass attempt to tight end Greg Olsen. The defender on the play, linebacker Cory Littleton, called Newton “readable” — and that he read him well.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton “had his moments.”
“At the end of the day when you get opportunities you have to capitalize,” Rivera said.
Carolina’s loss overshadowed an impressive outing from Christian McCaffrey, who looked extremely fast while racking up 128 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries and 81 yards on 10 receptions.
“I think offensively as a group, outside of Christian, we have a lot of work to do,” tight end Greg Olsen said.
Newton remains confident he will bounce back Thursday night against Tampa Bay.
“I have to settle in,” Newton said. “There’s a lot of first-game jitters, so to speak. All in all, we know what we have to do, and for it to be so fresh on our minds, I know exactly we’ll be better from it.”
If he’s not, the Panthers could be in for a difficult season.

Comments

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 301st death from COVID-19

Coronavirus

N.C. lawmakers advance bill barring mandatory COVID-19 shots

Local

Rowan Public Library joins initiative to help people with digital connectivity

Local

Mocksville to dissolve police department

Crime

Blotter: May 5

Local

Salisbury’s McElroy named top city, county communications professional in state

Local

Locals condemn use of force during 2019 traffic stop of Georgia woman

Kannapolis

Back and better than ever: Cannon Ballers kick off inaugural season in Atrium Health Ballpark

News

NC police reform package approved by Senate committee

News

Rowan County Health Department receives $5,000 grant to fund prenatal oral health program

Local

City outlines use of federal HUD funds, approves NCDOT project to create U-turn bulb near Morlan Park Road

Local

Salisbury VA staff make the day for veterans with visitation parade

Kannapolis

Minor League baseball: Wood Ducks top Cannon Ballers in season opener

News

NC Senate eases caps on income, grants for K-12 scholarships

Nation/World

Biden aims to vaccinate 70% of American adults by July 4

Local

Cheerwine now accepting entries for festival’s T-shirt design contest

Coronavirus

North Carolina reports fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 positives

Local

Post accepting submissions for Mother’s Day photos, stories

Business

Perkins Cafeteria plans for July opening, looks to provide ‘wholesome, quality meals’

Local

Commissioners finalize grant application for Woodleaf Community Park

Landis

Landis board gets first look at budget that decreases town’s residential electric rates

Local

City to discuss two traffic-related measures, hold public hearing for use of federal funds

Local

Summer Fun: In-person camps are back this year

High School

High school baseball: South’s Deal will play at Methodist