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Rivera says Panthers' Newton will overcome struggles

  • By Brian McIntyre NFL.com
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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton took the league by storm as a rookie in 2011, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after passing for more than 4,000 yards with 21 touchdowns and rushing for 706 yards (26th in the league) and 14 touchdowns, the second-highest total in the league and the most ever for a quarterback.

All players heading into Year 2 are faced with the dreaded "sophomore slump" question, but head coach Ron Rivera doesn't think that will be an issue for a player with Newton's work ethic and mind-set.

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"I will say this about a sophomore slump -– if there’s anybody that’s going (to) work through it, he’s going to work through it," Rivera said in a Q&A session on Friday. "When the season was over, one of the things he said was he wanted to find a way to make sure he didn’t have one. I think the less we talk about it, the less we get caught up in it, the better.

"It’s like the Madden curse, he really wanted to be the cover. I think that’s the thing. Instead of running from it, saying, 'Oh, I hope it doesn’t happen -- it’s not going to happen. I’m not going to let it happen.' I think that’s his approach to the sophomore slump."

Newton lost to Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent in the final vote for the Madden 13 cover.

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