As the autumn of Cam Newton turns toward the winter, it's unlikely that tensions between the Panthers quarterback and defenders will thaw anytime soon.
Ron Rivera has built a bully on both sides of the ball, but it's Cam that is taking a beating on a weekly basis. One Panthers offensive lineman thinks Newton is being targeted more than most.
"The only time I've ever seen Cam engage is when guys hit him late," center Ryan Kalil told NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks on the *Move the Sticks* podcast. "It really, really pisses me off. It's the only time I've probably ever yelled at refs about protecting him. A lot of times when he's down on the ground guys will start grabbing him. I've seen it a bunch, I mean it's crazy.
"I've never seen defensive players do this more to any other player I've been around who carries the ball more than Cam. Guys will grab his foot and try to twist his ankles or guys will try to pretend like they're trying to get up and lean on him and push on him and hit his knees and legs. It's funny, man. I go off. I get upset at referees. But that's the only time I've ever see Cam really go off on a guy and yelling at him. So if you ever see Cam in a game yelling at a guy, it's probably because (a defender) was doing something cheap."
If you ask any veteran who has spent time in the trenches, you will likely hear war stories about post-play scrum violence, from eye gouging to unwanted cup checks. However, Kalil is genuinely concerned that the desire to harm Cam after the whistle is more intentional than it is par for the course. He admitted it doesn't help that Newton is the most physically imposing quarterback the NFL has ever seen.
"I also think it (Cam's size) works against him, too," Kalil continued. "I think a lot of times refs let guys play and get away with that stuff because he's so big and he's such a physical specimen. I think it works against him a lot of times in that regard because he can take a hit and he can get back up. Where as maybe not such a big quarterback you protect him a little bit cause a hit might end his day."
This season we've already seen Newton plead his case unsuccessfully to referee Ed Hochuli that he's getting targeted unfairly after the whistle. Hochuli allegedly responded that Newton "wasn't old enough" to get the call. Whether an MVP-worthy season ages Cam in the officials' minds is unclear, but it sure isn't earning him a free pass from desperate defenders.