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Cam Newton now playing Panthers QB, 'not magician'

Criticized for compiling statistics at the expense of wins last season, quarterback Cam Newton has authored 13 victories in his last 21 games after managing just seven in the first 21 games of his career.

On NFL Network
NFL Replay
will re-air the Carolina Panthers' 24-20 win over the New England Patriots from Week 11 on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. ET.

After Newton's MVP-caliber performance in Monday night's thriller over the Patriots, teammates were quick to point out his progress in mastering the nuances of the quarterback craft.

"He played quarterback tonight, he didn't play magician," tight end Greg Olsen said, via The Sporting News. "He was just a magician on a couple of plays. And that's when you know you're a big-time player."

The magic came on a pair ofgreat escapes, plays that several teammates firmly believe are unique to their "superior athlete" at the position.

"He's doing it now when he needs to, and not because he doesn't know what to do," offensive tackle Jordan Gross said of Newton's running. "That's the development we're seeing out of him. He's looking to throw, and when it's not there, he remembers how good of an athlete he is."

Newton still has four or five throws per game that sail on him because he doesn't set his feet, but the six-game winning streak has illustrated the first significant strides he's made as a passer and a team leader since entering the league.

Over that stretch, Newton has generated a passer rating of at least 111.0 four times while making savvy pre-snap adjustments, showing more decisiveness and getting through his progressions at a faster rate.

That growth has instilled a calmness and confidence, allowing Newton to stay poised in key situations.

"What you're seeing right now," wide receiver Steve Smith told NFL Media's Albert Breer, "is watching a young, great quarterback develop."

We recapped every Week 11 game on the latest "Around The League Podcast."

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