Newton has plenty of room to grow

CHARLOTTE – Cam Newton threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday's 37-29 win over the Green Bay Packers. He also rushed for 57 yards and one touchdown.

But after the game, he was more focused on the mistakes than the successes. The entire team has taken the same approach during this unprecedented start.

"It's good," Newton said after improving to 8-0. "We've just got to clean a lot of things up."

Newton's day – as good as it was – could have been a lot better. He misfired on several throws, finishing 15-of-30 on pass attempts. And of course, his interception when Carolina was protecting a one-possession lead in the closing minutes bothered him greatly.

"He's still got some room to improve as a football player," head coach Ron Rivera said. "He had a couple of passes that could have been big-time plays – he overthrew Greg (Olsen), threw a little bit wide to Cotch (Jerricho Cotchery in the end zone) and threw a slant just a little bit behind Teddy (Ginn, Jr.). If he hits those three, who knows what could have happened. … His growth potential is still there. He's going to continue to get better."

Added offensive coordinator Mike Shula: "He hasn't hit the ceiling."

Having said all that, Newton has been in the discussion for league MVP at the midway point of the season with all that he does for the Carolina offense.

It's not a discussion Shula or Newton are about to enter into.

"We don't even think of it that way. We really don't," Shula said. "We want him to help our team win every week, and that's really all he wants to do.

"He was brought here, like we all were, to go win."

HAMMERING OUT THE GAME: After having some trouble protecting a double-digit lead in consecutive weeks, Shula spoke about Carolina's need to improve the "hammer" offense as they call it, to salt away victories.

"In that situation you have to be able to run the ball when everyone knows you are going to run it," Shula said. "Throw it and be accurate when you do that. Teams are going to have everybody up in there, and sometimes that's the best time to throw it. We've done it both ways.

"The goal of our offense is to have the ball as time expires. We're looking at it and we have to do a better job to keep our defense off the field."

View the top photos by team photographer Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez from Carolina's game against Green Bay.

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