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Newton's rookie season falls short of best ever in NFL

  • By Andy Fenelon NFL.com
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Is Cam Newton having the best rookie season in NFL history?

It's a good question, and worthy of debate. But Newton's 2011 debut is not a slam-dunk No. 1 at this point.

At his current pace, the Carolina quarterback would pass for 4,786 yards (that number will come down when weather starts to turn), 22 touchdowns and 18 picks, and his team would win just four games. While that would rank as the best rookie season for a QB statistically, it'd be far from the best among all players.

Some better rookie seasons include:

» Dick "Night Train" Lane, Rams, 1952: NFL-record 14 interceptions that still stands today (in a 12-game season). Closest anyone has come since is 11. 1952 Rams: 9-3

» Gale Sayers, Bears, 1965: Set an NFL rookie record with 22 touchdowns (14 rushing, six receiving, and one each on punt and kickoff returns). Gained 1,374 yards from scrimmage and had 2,272 all-purpose yards. 1965 Bears: 9-5

» Lawrence Taylor, Giants, 1982: Had 9.5 sacks, was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was an All-Pro selection, and helped the Giants go from 425 points allowed to 257. Many consider this to be the greatest rookie season of all-time. 1982 Giants: 9-7

» Eric Dickerson, Rams, 1983: Set rookie records for most rushing yards (1,808), and most rushing TDs (18). 1983 Rams: 9-7

» Randy Moss, Vikings, 1998: Had 17 TD receptions and the third-highest receiving yardage (1,313) total that season. 1998 Vikings: 15-1

» Edgerrin James, Colts, 1999: Led the NFL in rushing yards (1,553) and total TDs (17). He also finished second in all-purpose yards (2,139) and rushing TDs (13). 1999 Colts: 13-3

Andy Fenelon is a senior editor for NFL.com. Follow Andy on Twitter @Andy_Fenelon

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