Cam Newton was responsible for 35 touchdowns last season and passed for 4,051 yards as a rookie for the Carolina Panthers, which has a lot of people bracing for a sophomore slump.
It happened in the very same division last season when Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a significant drop-off in his performance. It’s happened elsewhere plenty.
Newton completed 60 percent of his passes and threw 21 touchdowns vs. 17 interceptions. He also rushed for 706 yards and 14 more scores. The hope is he’ll take the next step as a passer this season in what should be an improved season for the Panthers.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera doesn’t believe there is going to be a drop-off when it comes to Newton.
“I will say this about a sophomore slump – if there’s anybody that’s going work through it, he’s going to work through it,” Rivera said, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “When the season was over, one of the things he said was he wanted to find a way to make sure he didn’t have one. I think the less we talk about it, the less we get caught up in it, the better. It’s like the Madden curse, he really wanted to be the cover. I think that’s the thing. Instead of running from it, saying, ‘Oh, I hope it doesn’t happen – it’s not going to happen. I’m not going to let it happen.’ I think that’s his approach to the sophomore slump.”
Newton has been praised for his work ethic and that is one of the primary reasons he was the starter from the outset last year. He did all the work he possibly could to position himself. That’s made him a fine leader for a young player too, and the Panthers are hoping to reap rewards on that this season.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune