Wide receiver Steve Smith lit into Newton late in the Panthers' 36-7 loss to the New York Giants on Thursday night, unhappy the quarterback chose to sit on the bench after being lifted in favor of Derek Anderson late in the fourth quarter.
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"I watched D.A. and Jimmy (Clausen), they don't play in 20-something games last year," Smith said Friday, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. "And they get up and they observe and learn and get those mental reps," Smith said. "I told him, 'You can get some mental reps or you can sit on that bench and sulk.' "
According to Person, Smith said he's more concerned about development of Newton as a man than a leader. Newton won't be made available to the media until next Wednesday.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the conversation between the players "is between them." Rivera noted that Smith is a team captain.
"Cam Newton has a very unique opportunity to be a franchise quarterback to an organization that needs one," Smith said. "Statistics don't lie. Athletic quarterbacks, they either excel or they fail. And I told Cam that."
Last December, offensive linemen Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross asked Newton to improve his body language and control negative emotions during games. At the time, Newton said, "I have to change it, and I'm trying to change it."
He might not be trying hard enough.