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Notes: Touchdown to build on


CHARLOTTE – With the Panthers trailing by 22 points in the fourth quarter and the offense having allowed seven sacks, head coach Ron Rivera revealed he thought about removing quarterback Cam Newton from Sunday's game against the Broncos.

He's glad he didn't.

"I thought about it. We kept talking about what he needs to do and what he needs to learn. It was really good to see the second to last time we had the ball to be able to score the touchdown," Rivera said on Monday. "We felt that was a good opportunity to keep going."

Newton engineered a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive late in the fourth quarter that culminated with a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen.

The score didn't impact the game's outcome, but Rivera was pleased to see Newton and the offense string together a productive drive.

"He's done some really good things at times, and when he's having success we want to build on it," Rivera said. 

Newton took every snap, but his No. 1 wide receiver – team captain Steve Smith – was taken out of the game midway through the fourth quarter.

Smith's removal gave the coaching staff a chance to evaluate less experienced receiving options (Armanti Edwards and recently-activated David Gettis) and gave Smith a rare opportunity to rest.  

"We are at a point now where we are looking at guys, and Steve is a professional; he understands that," Rivera explained. "At this point in the season, more than halfway through, you have to look at opportunities to save some guys' legs. To take a few snaps off of Steve was part of the thinking."

O-LINE OPTIONS: The Panthers' offensive line struggled to contain the Broncos' pass rush, allowing a season-high seven sacks, and Rivera said there could be lineup changes coming.

"We're going to look at different things we can do with personnel," Rivera said.

One of the players waiting for his first opportunity of the season is tackle Bruce Campbell. Acquired in an offseason trade with Oakland, Campbell played guard during his first two season with the Raiders, but Rivera said he is best suited playing behind Jordan Gross at left tackle.

"Bruce, really his best, most natural position is left tackle," Rivera said. "But we most certainly are going to look at different options."

The left tackle spot has been manned by Gross for the better part of nine seasons, and Rivera praised the work of the team captain.

"Jordan is playing very well," Rivera said. "A lot of that was an avalanche with what happened (on Sunday). He did miss a couple plays, but for the most part, when you watch him and see what he's meant to anchoring that offensive line, it's pretty solid."

CONTROVERSIAL NO-CALL: As Trindon Holliday neared the end zone at the end of his 76-yard punt return in the second quarter, instant replay revealed that he released the football prior crossing the goal line.

Coaches in the booth informed Rivera of the possible fumble, but any review would have to come from the officials since it was a scoring play.

"That goes back to the league. It goes upstairs, and it's supposed to be watched from start to finish," Rivera said. "I've asked the league for an explanation, so we'll see. … I'm technically not allowed to throw the red (challenge) flag, because it's a scoring play."

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