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Carolina Panthers

Newton prepares for pressure


CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Cam Newton recognizes that neither he nor his teammates put their best foot forward in last Sunday's loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Newton also knows that a similar showing Sunday against an aggressive Detroit Lions defense would be another step back for the Panthers.

"Last week is completely unacceptable. Rookie or veteran, it doesn't matter," Newton said. "This week, if you bring that same mentality that we had last week, we're going to get busted in the mouth. This is a physical team that has an arsenal."

Against the Titans, Newton was sacked a season-high five times by a defense that entered the game with the fifth-fewest sacks in the NFL. Against the Lions, he'll face a defense that has the sixth-most sacks in the NFL.

Newton is preparing not only for how often the Lions get to the quarterback but also for how they get to the quarterback.

"Those guys don't even have to blitz to create pressure. That's the scary part about it," Newton said. "They still have everybody in coverage and create pressure with four down linemen."

The Titans repeatedly blitzed on first down against the Panthers and often were successful, forcing the offense into long-yardage situations that allowed Tennessee to then drop more personnel into pass coverage.

When the Lions are at their best, they're able to get to the quarterback and drop extra personnel into coverage on the same play. They're especially tough to crack on third down, preventing opposing quarterbacks from converting an NFL-best 72 percent of the time.

That means Newton must consistently make quicker, better decisions than he did against the Titans.

"There are numerous things I feel like I could have done better -  throwing hot, getting the ball out, throwing the ball away," Newton said. "A throw-away incompletion is second-and-10 rather than second-and-17, and we can work with that."

Newton also criticized himself for not doing a good enough job of communicating protections to his offensive linemen. At the same time, his linemen said they need to protect Newton better.

"It's a team game. We're all accountable," rookie right tackle Byron Bell said. "We've got to help the guy out. He was doing the best he can. Up front, I can only speak for myself, but I've just got to play better."

Rest assured that Newton and his teammates are doing everything within their power to make sure they do play better this weekend.

"When I talk about giving it my all, I'm not just talking about Sundays," Newton said. "People don't realize that this game is played from Sunday to Sunday. They don't see what you do in practice and after practice.

"We have guys going over and beyond, but sooner or later that has to translate to the game."

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