What a difference one grueling, nationally televised loss has made for Cam Newton.
Chris Mortensen reported on ESPN's "Sunday Countdown" that the Carolina Panthers are "privately concerned" about their quarterback's mental makeup in the wake of Thursday's loss to the New York Giants. Newton, according to Mortensen, has logged time with a "mind coach" to help him adjust to the heightened expectations and pressures surrounding the second-year starter.
More disturbing than Newton's poor play against New York's defense was the visual of the passer sulking on the bench, something that tweaked his veteran receiver, Steve Smith, and didn't sit well with observers.
"You gotta start playing the game mentally instead of physically," NFL Network's Kurt Warner said. "And that's where Cam is lacking right now."
It's an easy week to pile on Newton. Perhaps his lowest moment against the Giants was unearthing his tedious Superman act after scoring a touchdown that left Carolina down 26-7. Handing the ball to the official and marching back to the sideline would have been preferable. It was a clownish performance, and the point some have made is that a savvy veteran wouldn't be caught dead pulling that charade. Chalk it up as a learning opportunity for Newton, but let's not give up on the young man.
He's an epically talented 23-year-old quarterback. Maturity, perspective and life skills? A work in progress. I'm not making excuses for Newton -- the Panthers orbit him, and that's what he said he wanted from the start -- but how he responds is what matters.
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.