Instead of feeling even halfway good about his NFL debut, in which he threw for 422 yards and had two touchdowns while adding another score on the ground, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton "took it hard" because his team lost 28-21, coach Ron Rivera said Thursday. Rivera said Newton told him and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski that "he didn't do enough."
Newton stayed at the team facility well into the night Monday night, breaking down video with Chudzinski and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula. The rookie came to the team facility Tuesday -- an off day for players -- for more video and play sheets before and after shooting a "Play 60" commercial for the NFL.
"He's made the commitment," Rivera said. "He's doing all this stuff on his own."
Newton and the Panthers host the defending Super Bowl champion Packers on Sunday, and Green Bay's defensive players and coaches aren't happy about allowing more than 475 yards and 34 points in a win over the New Orleans Saints. That unit's redemption could come at the expense of Newton.
The Packers plan to use more base schemes and have better timing with their blitzes, but what has been stressed this week is maintaining integrity on each play call because of Newton's elusiveness and recognition of pressures -- not always common with rookies.
"Big games don't seem to faze him," Rivera said. "That was in the back of our minds when we were scouting him. Did we know he'd be what he's been to this extent? Probably not."
No one with the Panthers is saying Newton has arrived. He has taken to the offense and quickly learned opponent tendencies. Still, the coaching staff isn't overwhelming him, giving him specific reads and limiting his number of options on each play, usually on one portion of the field and not the other, Rivera said.
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