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Cam Newton plans to stay even-keeled for Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a plan to become a better leader: He intends to keep his frustrations in check because they've been a distraction to his teammates in the past.

Newton took mistakes hard, his competitive drive leading to him getting down on himself -- during and after games.

He told The Associated Press, "Oh man, I had it bad. I still do have it to some degree."

But Newton says with the help of his coaches he's getting better.

He's changing his approach, and his new motto is: "Next play."

The third-year pro has put up record-setting numbers, but he said he has learned the public sulking that has plagued him -- and drawn much criticism -- "can be a turnoff" and isn't helping the team.

"There are times when I am worried about the play where I overthrew (Steve Smith) -- and now it is three plays later," Newton said. "If I let that affect me, the next ball is not going to be complete or it might be intercepted. It's like a snowball effect. For me, it's about moving on and understanding that mistakes are going to happen. But you have to bounce back and make the most of each and every play."

Too often, Newton said, he didn't do that -- or at least didn't do it quick enough.

"I've learned that it needs to be, 'Hey Cam, let's put all of that aside and let's go make plays and win us a football game,' " Newton said. "But my turnover has to be quicker so I get by it mentally and say, 'Hey I messed up, but now is not the time, nor the place to let it get me down.' "

Newton said offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey have helped him work through that.

"They've been doing an unbelievable job with being that gnat in my ear, saying, 'Cam, forget about it. Go to the next play,' " Newton said. "And that's a good thing."

Center Ryan Kalil agrees, adding that Newton's attitude has been a distraction at times.

"In the past, he's worn it on his sleeve, which is fine," Kalil said. "I think the criticism for him, though, is you have to clear it and go. You can't wear it very long.

"It concerns guys that it brings him down a little bit. ... There are ups and downs, and you have to be able to reset and move on."

Newton called Shula a "perfect fit" for him as his offensive coordinator and called him a father figure. Shula has a calm demeanor that seems to mesh with Newton's highly competitive, intense nature.

"He hates losing. We all know that," Shula said. "Probably the biggest thing with Cam is maintaining that balance."

Said Newton: "When Coach Shula says, 'C'mon Cam, let it go,' it automatically clicks now.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

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