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Notebook: Cam Newton all about business

Jeff Nixon, Cam Newton

CHARLOTTE — Cam Newton was not in the mood for story time.

The Panthers quarterback had the opportunity to share his thoughts on a number of topics Thursday, including how he met new play-caller Jeff Nixon.

That was a good anecdote, too, as Nixon recalled Newton running over him in a corridor at the Scouting Combine in 2011, knocking the coach to the ground at the feet of the quarterback he referred to as "humongous."

But Newton was all business Thursday, and his mind kept coming back to one thing.

"All my focus right now is on the Atlanta Falcons," Newton said. "All these stories are cool and all, but I can control what I can control, and the important thing is producing on Sunday."

Newton steered a number of questions back to the topic he wanted to discuss, which was the immediacy of trying to break a two-game losing streak, and win a home game for the first time since he returned to the Panthers.

And when someone mentioned the outside chance of the playoffs at 5-7, Newton looked almost incredulous.

"Can we please stop mentioning that word? I'm trying to get a win," Newton said. "I'm 0-2. I'll be lying to somebody to talk about playoff football. The important thing for me is, . . . yeah, we know what the grand scheme of things is, but the reality is I'm 0-2. The feel-good story of Cam coming back, and I said this then, and I'll say it now, this ain't no Cinderalla. I'm here to win football games, all right? So all the feel-good stories about how we met, and this, that, and the third, or who got cut, who got released, I'm here to win. And if we win, everybody else gets a promotion, and when you don't, a lot of people are going to get cut. That's just the harsh reality of playing.

"I'm not telling you anything you don't know. I just want the message of this to be, I'm focused all on Atlanta."

— Even if Newton didn't want to get into the historical significance when asked about Nixon's new role, the moment was not lost on the new play-caller.

Nixon been an offensive coordinator before (working in that role for head coach Matt Rhule at Baylor), and knows that he's one of few minority coaches to reach an equivalent level in the NFL.

There are four Black offensive coordinators in the NFL at the moment (Kansas City's Eric Bieniemy, Tampa Bay's Byron Leftwich, Indianapolis' Marcus Brady, and Detroit's Anthony Lynn), and a fifth carries a co-coordinator title (Miami's Eric Studesville).

The Panthers have never had a Black offensive coordinator in franchise history, and though Nixon lacks that specific job title, he understands he's at a point few reach.

"I'm not going to lie, I'm proud to be in the position I'm in," Nixon said. "I'm extremely happy coach Rhule gave me this opportunity, and I'm trying to make the most of it.

"I know in the past there haven't been a lot of people who look like me in this position. So I don't take that lightly. And I'll try to do my best and represent others like me and do the best job I can and help our guys win."

— Panthers outside linebacker Haason Reddick continues to lead all NFC outside linebackers in Pro Bowl voting, with 79,820 votes through Thursday. He's the only Panthers player to lead the conference in voting at his position.

Fans can vote now on and then on social media until Thursday, Dec. 16. Players and coaches will vote Dec. 17, and teams will be announced Dec. 20 on NFL Network.

With 10.5 sacks this season, Reddick is third in the NFC and seventh in the league in sacks. His 23.0 sacks since the start of last season are the fourth-most of any player in the league over that span.

He's also 2.0 sacks short of tying his single-season career-best, set last season with the Cardinals.

View photos from Thursday's practice as the Panthers prepare to take on Atlanta this weekend.

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