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Carolina Panthers

Newton, Panthers ready for second chance


CHARLOTTE - When Panthers quarterback Cam Newton met with head coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday morning, Newton took the burden of Carolina's season-opening loss to Tampa Bay squarely upon his shoulders.

Rivera, however, told his young quarterback that there was plenty of blame to go around and that it's up to everybody to do something about it when the Panthers open their home schedule Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

"In typical Cam fashion, he put it on himself and the things he felt he could have done better, could have handled better," Rivera said Wednesday. "When you throw for over 300 yards, you're obviously doing something good.

"What I would like to see us do as an offense is do your assignments better, see us not miss certain blocks, see us catch the ball when we have the chance, and see us run the ball better. There are so many areas where we can improve."

The Panthers are using every minute this week to improve - Newton's time with the media Wednesday was cut short by a meeting - but at the same time they're counting the minutes until they get a chance to play again.

"We're very anxious," wide receiver Brandon LaFell said. "We were ready for another chance yesterday.

"Our confidence isn't shaken at all; we just know we have to do better. The mistakes we made are correctable – they were mental mistakes – so we're not shaken."

Newton may have taken on the blame, but he also took Rivera's message to heart about there being plenty to go around.

As Newton matures, he's realizing that try as he might, he can't do it all by himself.

"If we want to be the team that we know we can be, everybody – 11 guys – have to be onboard each and every play," Newton said. "Defensively, you can kind of get away with a single player making the play and making up the difference for another person. But offensively, if one guy slips or falls down, it's going to show on the whole offense.

"The defense did enough for the offense to carry us to the win. We are better than 10 points offensively."

The defense, despite keeping the Buccaneers out of the end zone after their first drive, feels like it needs to do more as well. While the offense looks forward to the opportunity to build some momentum against the Saints, the defense wants to build on the momentum it gained against Tampa Bay.

"We played great, but no matter how you play, there were spots where we lapsed. That's what cost us the game," defensive end Greg Hardy said. "We're ready. I'm always ready. I go out to practice trying to get tackles. I keep my stats. Dominate early, dominate late."

Clearly, the Panthers can't wait for Sunday.

Alas, they must.

"Bill Parcells said it awhile back, 'Winning doesn't stay as long as losing does,' " Rivera said. "You win, you get to enjoy it. Lose, you don't get to enjoy it, and you think about it a lot longer.

"That's kind of where we are right now."

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