CHARLOTTE – Several players in the Panthers locker room shared a variation of the same sentiment after it was announced that Cam Newton and his sore throwing shoulder would sit out Sunday's game against the Falcons.
Their quarterback has been dealing with more than people realize.
Maybe now they do.
"I think he's disappointed, and it's clear to most people now how hard he has been fighting all year to stay out there and keep giving us a chance to win," center Ryan Kalil said. "He hasn't been able to be himself. I feel bad for him because I know what a competitor he is and how much he cares about this team."
Said guard Trai Turner: "The tough part is when everybody doesn't know the full spectrum of things that are going on. It's a tough game. You have a lot of guys going out there and battling… Cam gives us his best no matter what is going on. I couldn't be more proud of him and in a sense I'm happy that he's able to get himself together now."
Added running back Christian McCaffrey: "I hate to see all the negative stuff going (Cam's) way, because if people really knew what he was going through, they'd bite their tongue a little bit. He's been a true champion, to push through what he's pushed through and also know when to give it to the next guy."
Monday night's loss to the Saints was the low point for Newton. His 131 passing yards and his 52.5 passer rating were both season lows. He completed 16-of-29 passes, with only one of the completions traveling more than 10 yards in the air.
"Some of the DBs would actually tell us on the field, 'We're not scared of y'all going deep.' They've actually mentioned that multiple times," wide receiver Jarius Wright said.
With the Panthers now 6-8 following six consecutive losses, it was time to sit the ailing franchise quarterback.
His teammates know how hard that is for Newton to accept, no matter the circumstances.
"I know in his mind he feels like he's letting his teammates down," Kalil said.
"Cam is a warrior and he's been fighting through a lot for a long time now. Obviously hate to see him go down. I know he's frustrated," McCaffrey said. "To know what he's been playing through has been pretty impressive. I don't know too many guys who would do that and continue to take the hits the way he does and continue to run the ball with the tenacity he does. You can definitely get behind that. He's a warrior, and we'll miss him."