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Cam on taking hits: 'I'm not in the sport of ballerina'

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Cam Newton has been hit a lot in four NFL seasons.

To be exact, the Carolina Panthers quarterback has been hit 587 times -- 270 more than any other signal-caller since 2011. Not that Newton is concerned.

"Sacks, touches, hits, I'm fine," Newton told ESPN.com. "I'm walking tall. This is a football game and it's supposed to be played as such. I'm not in the sport of ballerina, gymnastics. This is a physical sport. I knew what I was signing up for when I decided to play this game."

Part of the reason for the multitude of hits has been a poor Panthers offensive line. The other factor is Newton's playing style.

The quarterback admitted sometimes he feels "more vulnerable" in the pocket than outside -- though he wouldn't place the blame for that skittishness on the lack of faith in his offensive line.

"I'm always getting questioned on how I run," Newton said. "I never, up to this point, got that wild shot like I see other players take. One of those hits where you're like, 'Gollee, he just got killed.'

"I'm always the one either delivering the blow or sliding away from the hit."

Newton's tendency to flee the pocket, while a huge asset behind a shaky line, is also one reason his footwork hasn't improved through four years and he goes on streaks of wild inconsistency.

The Panthers have attempted to upgrade the offensive line and provide Newton with more, taller offensive weapons. We'll see if those factors lower the hit count in 2015.

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