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Tag:Cam Newton
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 6:30 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 1

Posted by Will Brinson



Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 1 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.



It's rather unfair to the rest of the NFL to expect a legitimate follow-up to the Thursday night spectacular that was New Orleans and Green Bay. To the extent that folks wanted drama, the most spine-tingling moments came before the action on Sunday, as the NFL and the nation honored the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

Fantastic job all around by the NFL and the various broadcast partners and the players and Reebok and everyone involved for really making Sunday a touching tribute to one of America's greatest tragedies. Can you really imagine what would have happened if there hadn't been football on the anniversary because of the lockout?

Obviously the nation would have moved on -- it's just sports. But the public relations hit would have been 100-percent inverse of the boost the league received on Sunday.

Not that it matters. There was football. And it was good and there were lots of stories. Many of whom we'll break down below. In the words of Jay-Z, "let's rock."

1. Yes We Cam
What did you expect from Cam Newton in his first start as an NFL player?

Because, no offense, but it doesn't really matter -- Newton set the world on fire en route to throwing for 422 yards and two touchdowns, plus rushing for another score.

Carolina still lost to Arizona in a close game, but that's not really important, as they're not a Super Bowl contender right now. What's important is that they appear to have finally gotten their franchise quarterback. And that makes one guy -- Steve Smith -- pretty happy.

"He was everything everybody didn't expect him to be," Smith said after the game. "He was on point, he made some great runs, he made some great reads, made some fantastic throws. He made some throws out there that honestly as a receiver it made it easy to catch them."

In case you missed it, Smith wanted out of Carolina all of last year while catching (or, if you prefer not catching) passes from Jimmy Clausen but after the Panthers drafted Newton, Smith eventually got back on board with staying in Carolina over the long(ish) haul.

It worked out pretty well for him on Sunday, because he caught eight passes for a 178 yards, numbers which should have the same effect on Smith as Newton's totals have on fans: obscuring the win-loss column.

As we noted on Sunday, Newton's 422 yards was the highest passing yardage total by a rookie, in their season opener, in NFL history. It's tied for the highest total for a rookie in any game, with Matthew Stafford's 422 in 2009 against the Browns.

And perhaps most crazy of all, it's the fifth-highest season opener total in NFL history. Not rookie history -- NFL history. Damn impressive stuff is what it was -- maybe Bo Jackson was right after all.

Newton, by the way, is already 11th on the Panthers all-time passing yards list.

2. Most Valuable Peyton

In a brutal twist of irony, while Kerry Collins was starting his first game as a Colt, stinking up the joint and causing Colts fans to start researching Stanford's schedule in 2011, he somehow managed to pass Joe Montana for the 10th-most passing yards in NFL history. That Collins did so was the lone bright spot for a Colts team that got absolutely drubbed by the Texans in the first game without Peyton Manning at the helm since 1998.

Sunday was just the second time since Indy drafted Manning that they trailed 17-0 after the first quarter, and the 34-0 halftime deficit for Indy was the largest in franchise history.

Look, everyone knows that Peyton is really good. And everyone knows that Peyton meant more to this team over the past few years than anyone could possibly imagine, and that the Colts wouldn't have won as many games as they have without him.

But is it possible to give someone an MVP award when they don't even play for an entire season simply based on how poorly their team plays without him? Of course not. If it was, though, Manning would warrant consideration in 2011 just based off what we saw in Week 1.

As for the long-term issue of Manning's health, it's really hard to imagine that the Colts would even consider trying to bring him back in 2011. There's a very good chance that by the time we get halfway through his aggressive rehab schedule the Colts are 0-4.

At that point, the season's over for all reasonable intents and purposes. By Week 8, when Peyton might be ready? Yeah, there's a good chance Indy's done then. And if they are, there's little-to-no sense in bringing him back at the risk of busting up his career to try and ruin a good shot at landing Andrew Luck.

3. The Steelers are terrible
Just kidding. But I really wanted to make sure we make at least one absolutely incorrect knee-jerk decision in this column. The Ravens might have been favored by a field goal against the Steelers on Sunday, but the consensus amongst all the experts was that the Steelers are a significantly better team, though because of the rivalry factor things would come down to a field goal in a close, bloody game.

Whoops on all counts.

Well, except the blood -- Pittsburgh strolled into M&T Bank Stadium and got absolutely stuck in the face by their rival and then spent all afternoon trying to figure out how to make the gushing stop, only it never did.

Ben Roethlisberger threw three picks and fumbled twice and the Steelers committed a whopping eight turnovers as they generally looked like a boxer against the ropes getting continually pummeled.

"That playoff taste, now it's over," Rice said. "Now we’ve got that burden off our shoulders, boom! We’re one up on them right now.”

The two biggest concerns for the Ravens coming into this season were the offensive line and the secondary.

The Ravens were mocked for their desperation in signing Bryant McKinnie shortly before the season began, mostly because McKinnie was reportedly clocking in around 400 pounds. (As reported Sunday, he's now making more money for weighing less. So that's nice.)

But he was a tremendous difference for Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, as he provided stability at the left tackle position and made some key blocks. He wasn't perfect, of course, but that's OK.

Especially because the most important benefit he provides Ravens is the ability to slot their offensive lineman in correct positions. If he's motivated, he could be a difference maker.

4. Falcons get mauled
Mea culpa time I guess: the Bears probably won't finish in last place in the NFC North. Ha. Yeah, I predicted that. They still could, and as long as that offensive line is as porous as it was against the Falcons, I'll stick by that prediction.

After all, New Orleans and Green Bay -- Chicago's next two opponents -- are not only good but they're not shy about blitzing heavily. That could mean plenty of Cutler getting tattooed six-and-a-half steps into his drops. If that.

And if Caleb Hanie has to play, the Bears will struggle mightily. But they'll have their defense which, well, yeah, per usual it's the reason the Bears are dominating.

"We still have to play up to the defense's level," Cutler said. "They're still carrying us."

Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers, in particular, were beasts on Sunday. Peppers picked up two sacks, recovered a fumble and forced another fumble that Urlacher scooped and took the house. And Urlacher himself looked particularly spry, picking up an impressively athletic interception.

I'd still argue that the Bears have the makings of the third-best team in their division, but they are the defending champs and for some reason they will just not go away. Which should mean one or two angry comments from Bears fans every week. Sigh.

5. Living the dream
Many a writer ruthlessly mocked the Eagles this offseason for hogging the headlines, particularly when backup quarterback Vince Young decided to refer to Philly's squad as "The Dream Team."

It's still a stretch and I remain adamant that the metaphor is largely irrelevant for the game of football. (Case: in point, Philly's linebacking corps wouldn't exactly be starting for most other NFL teams.)

But my goodness -- the Eagles are just as explosive as last season, aren't they? LeSean McCoy is so sneakily fast for an every-down back that you don't realize it until re-watching him take the ball around the corner, past a defender and into the end zone.

The defensive line will swarm opposing quarterbacks and obviously the combo of Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson gives the Eagles the ability to score from anywhere. Seeing how Andy Reid operates in a close game going forward will be interesting though -- I saw some chatter about the Eagles running the ball immediately after Vick would get touched.

That pretty clearly, um, is a tell. And even if it's not something the Eagles are going to do every single series, it's something they have think about doing, because exposing Vick to multiple shots in back-to-back instances during games simply won't work if the Eagles want to dominate the way Vince Young expects them to.



6. These are your brother's Cowboys
They are not your father's Cowboys. And they're not even your uncle's Cowboys. These Cowboys like to score frequently and play quite well for about three and a half quarters.

And then things get tight and they choke.

The most disturbing thing about the way that Tony Romo handed the game to the Jets -- a pass intended for a gimpy Dez Bryant that Jessica Simpson could have intercepted, much less Darrelle Revis -- in typical, um, Tony Romo fashion.

As my man Mike Freeman wrote, it's precisely the kind of late-game debacling that causes people to think that Romo can't win big games or even close little games for the Cowboys.

"We win that football game if I don't do what I did," Romo said afterwards.

You simply can't fumble on the one-yard line (when a score would all but guarantee you victory) and then proceed to gift wrap a turnover for the other team when there's less than a minute remaining on the clock and the score is tied.

Going into what eventually turned out to be the final drive, Jason Garrett and Romo need to be on the same page regarding a few things. One, nothing stupid. Two, if you're going to force a pass, then you need to force the pass deep so the Jets don't get a free field goal. And three, nothing stupid.

Look, I get that the Jets used a defense designed to confuse Romo into thinking Dez was in single coverage and therefore force a ball his way. But he has lots of weapons. In fact, I was in the middle of writing how good I felt about my pick of Dallas to the Super Bowl because of their creative defense (Rob Ryan did outstanding work last night with limited manpower) and a high-octane offense so stocked with weapons that Kim Jong-Il is jealous.

All they need is Romo to put it together and stop being the stereotype that people put on him. He was doing all that until the Cowboys got in a position to put a tough road game against another Super Bowl contender on ice and he absolutely melted down.

7. Detroit hope city
Matthew Stafford's been getting pumped up all offseason long -- that he exploded in the preseason didn't help matters much, and that he was overdrafted by most fantasy football players helps even less.

So there were some funny moments in his eventual breakout on Sunday. First there was the early interception -- a pick-six by Aqib Talib -- against Tampa that made everyone realize that there were a lot of eggs in a basket. And no one really knew what the basket was built out of, except that it was probably the most fragile type of straw a man can find.

Then Stafford started going off ... except after his first touchdown pass he began cramping up. (Lots of cramping Sunday in case you didn't notice.) The world collectively held its breath as Stafford was examined on the sideline because, my goodness, it's early to be injured even if you're Stafford.

Instead, the former Georgia standout and No. 1-overall draft pick returned to the game and kept slinging teeters to Calvin Johnson, eventually finishing with 305 yards and three touchdown passes in Detroits 27-20 win over Tampa Bay.

Let's not get out of hand and start giving the Lions a playoff berth quite yet -- they certainly have problems, most notably in the secondary -- but there's reason to be excited for football in Detroit.

As long as Stafford can stay healthy anyway.

8. Rex Grossman is ... not bad?

I know, it's weird, but it might be true. Grossman appeared to be pretty darn competent most of Sunday. He threw for 305 yards on two touchdowns and backed up Mike Shanahan's seemingly inexplicable to name him the starter during the preseason.

It's not that John Beck is such a logical choice, it's just that, well, he's Rex Grossman. It seems to make no sense.

"Any typical kickoff weekend, your emotions are high," Grossman said after the game. "Being it's Sept. 11, 10th anniversary, Colin Powell's in the locker room giving you the pregame speech, and then coming out and the fans are chanting 'U-S-A.' I was overwhelmed. It was a fun day. It's a day I'll never forget."

Let's not get too high on Grossman just quite yet, because the Giants were basically trotting out a practice squad of players on defense after their starting lineup was ravaged by a ridiculous run of injuries during the preseason.

Maybe he is the answer at quarterback and maybe the Redskins could win the NFC East and maybe the Shanahans really are able to turn contaminated water into a Colt 45.

But we've seen Grossman light teams up -- like he did while tossing four touchdowns and 322 yards against Dallas in Week 14 of last year -- and immediately follow it up by laying an absolutely egg. Let's reserve judgment until we see his body of work over the span of a few weeks.

9. Go West, Young Man
We already covered Newton and his impressive rookie performance, but he wasn't the only rookie to have a big impact in Week 1.

Ryan Kerrigan returned an interception for a touchdown to help push the Redskins over the Giants, J.J. Watt terrorized the Colts defensive line, Patrick Peterson returned a punt for a touchdown that proved to be the difference maker against Carolina, A.J. Green caught the go-ahead touchdown pass for the Bengals, Randall Cobb trended on Twitter Thursday night thanks to his holy return, Tyron Smith was big on the line for the Cowboys, and Andy Dalton started out white hot … until Phil Taylor knocked him out of the game.

So yeah, very impressive week -- thus far anyway -- from an impressive group of young NFL players, especially given the shortened time frame they're working on.

10. Injured Rams
Not a great day for Steve Spagnuolo, huh? The Rams were seen by many, including yours truly, as a team on the rise in 2011. They play in a terrible division, they have anchors on both sides of the line, they have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford and they easily could have been a playoff team in 2010.

But a number of injuries during Week 1 are a quick reminder of how fragile success is in the NFL.

Steven Jackson pulled his quad which has "lingering" stamped all over it, Danny Amendola dislocated his elbow and could likely be done for the year and most terrifyingly, Bradford hurt his finger.

We don't know precisely what will happen to Bradford, but there was discussion of "nerve damage," which is scary as hell. Bradford downplayed the injury after the game.

"I don't see any way I'm not going to be on the field, to be honest with you," Bradford said.

Well, here's one way: if you're at risk for a bigger injury, the franchise won't let you near the Big Apple, even it's for a matchup against the would-be hapless New York Giants.

Put an APB out for:
Charlie Weis. Because from what I saw of the Chiefs offense on Sunday, they might be missing the guy who turned Matt Cassel into a Pro Bowler, Jamaal Charles into the best running back in the NFL last year, and Dwayne Bowe into a touchdown monster. We've touched on the fact that the Chiefs had a REALLY easy schedule in 2010. That's fine. But the offense has too many weapons to be scoring seven points against the Bills and not consider "If we did X last year and we're doing Z this year and Y isn't there anymore, gee what could be the difference?"

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday ...
... Anyone ever notice that Rex and Rob Ryan really look like George and Oscar Bluth?
... 49ers punter Andy Lee posted the third-highest average for punts in one game, smoking his 59.6 yards per punt.
... How does Joe Torre -- the Yankees coach during 9/11 -- not let baseball players wear NYPD and NYFD hats?
********

Worth 1,000 Words




Hot Seat Tracker

I'm hoping to have my fancy mathematical formula to track who's most likely to get canned up and running by next week, but in the meantime, we can break down coaches in trouble pretty simply. (That's mainly because of all the first-year head coaches -- it's pretty unlikely we see a lot firings between now and next season.)
  • Tom Coughlin -- Coughlin's got a plethora of injuries to fall back on, so maybe he can buy some more time. But the way the Giants lost to the Redskins Sunday, it's hard to imagine New Yorkers won't continue the annual tradition of calling for Coughlin's head.
  • Todd Haley -- What's worse: showing up for work without wearing pants or getting beat by the Bills 41-7 at home? Gotta be the latter.
  • Jack Del Rio -- Yeah, he won, but we need people to add to this list. Plus, he beat the Titans.
  • Jim Caldwell -- The "Manning Factor" for his job will be fascinating to watch this season.
MVP Watch
Peyton! No, but seriously, in the way-too-early glance at the MVP race, I'll go ahead and throw Philip Rivers out there, since he's fourth in passing yardage right now and the Chargers are 1-0. Also: Michael Vick.

And Ryan Fitzpatrick.

What? It's Week 1.

Posted on: September 11, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 8:33 pm
 

Cam Newton sets NFL rookie passing record

Posted by Will Brinson

Cam Newton's been the most scrutinized rookie quarterback since ... well, since Tim Tebow. But that's beside the point, since the point was most folks either love or hate Newton and no one really knew what to expect out of his NFL debut, an eventual 28-21 loss in Arizona.

Turns out, all we got was the single-biggest passing yard performance by a rookie in his debut in NFL history as Newton slung the ball around to the tune of 422 yards and two passing touchdowns on an impressive 24 of 37.

Newton surpassed Peyton Manning's previous first-game record of 302 yards, a pretty remarkable coincidence given where Manning's career currently stands.

Additionally, the 422 yards ties a rookie record for most passing yards in a single game, as Newton equaled Matthew Stafford -- hey, he had a nice day too! -- and his total from Week 10 of 2009 against the Browns.

And Cam didn't pile up junk yardage, either -- the Panthers were absolutely competitive for most of the game against the Cardinals and Newton was calm and poised most of the time, save for his lone interception.

He also picked up a rushing touchdown on a designed option-type draw near the goal line, and ended up with 18 rushing yards on eight attempts. And it probably warrants mentioning that Newton ripped off a sick air guitar celebration with the ball following his rushing touchdown, which netted him a 15-yard penalty.

Clearly things could have gone better for the Panthers, and clearly Newton won't throw for 400 yards every single game. (That wouldn't be a good thing, anyway.) But there's at least hope for Panthers fans one game into the 2011 season considering it appears as if they've finally found a franchise quarterback.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:53 am
 

Jimmy Clausen to be inactive on Sunday?

Posted by Will Brinson

Things haven't gone well for Jimmy Clausen this offseason. The Panthers drafted Cam Newton first overall and promptly handed him the keys to the proverbial jalopy car in Charlotte.

There was chatter that Clausen ended up falling as far as third on the depth chart -- he's like a homeless man's Tim Tebow! -- and according to our Panthers Rapid Reporter Steve Reed, it's "possible" that the Panthers only activate two quarterbacks for Sunday's game in Arizona.

The idea here is that the Panthers could simply use someone like Armanti Edwards (a quarterback in college) as the third quarterback in the total nightmare scenario where both Newton and would-be backup Derek Anderson are knocked out of the game.

"We have options to look at and I'm not going to tell you," Rivera said.

Well, at least Rivera's being blunt with his secrecy. That's better than coach talk.

Randomly, while we're talking about the Panthers, here's something that I find interesting that might not be interesting: the last time Newton came to Arizona, he was in Glendale for the BCS Championship. He played OK there. (In fact, he won all the Tostitos.)

I guess the potential, but-not-really relevance there is that Newton has traveled a couple time zones for a football game and done just fine.

And, hell, more people watched that game anyway.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 11:50 pm
 

Bo Jackson says Cam Newton, Panthers 'are scary'

 
Bo Jackson on Cam Newton: “There isn’t another quarterback in the NFL that has all of those tangibles.” (Getty Images)  

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Cam Newton, the first-overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and the latest franchise quarterback for the Panthers, has been named the starter as Carolina heads into the regular season. Newton wasn't particularly impressive during the preseason, completing just 42 percent of his passes (24 for 57, 300 yards) and throwing just one touchdown, but he showed glimpses of the future and, well, potential can be a powerful aphrodisiac. 

Of course, the NFL QB scrap heap is littered with players who had gobs of inherent talent but couldn't ever do anything with it. The reasons for their professional demises are as varied as the names on the list. Clark Judge, our CBSSports.com colleague, wrote last week that "If Newton demonstrated anything in three quarters of a 24-13 loss to Cincinnati, it's that he's not ready for prime time. He should sit, and he should sit until he understands what he's doing and what he sees -- because that's not happening now."

Judge reiterated those thoughts again Friday, a day after head coach Ron Rivera made it official.

"Normally, [Newton] would have minicamps, OTAs and quarterback camps to pick up the pro game, but all that got flushed during the lockout. So [he] reported in late July and will start in early September, and good luck. He looks no more ready to play the position than Jimmy Clausen did a year ago.

"But the Panthers have little choice. They can't sell their fans on Clausen or Derek Anderson, so give them Newton -- ready or not -- and that might not be good for him or the franchise. Reason: In a lot of respects it reminds me of the Ryan Leaf situation in San Diego years ago, one that Carolina GM Marty Hurney knows all too well."

Yikes.

It's not all gloom and doom, however. Bo Jackson, one of the greatest professional athletes of the last half-century, recently told Jim Rome (via PFT.com) that Newton possesses rare physical gifts that are the exact right fit for the Panthers' offense. (Seriously, we're not making that up.)

“There isn’t another quarterback in the NFL that has all of those tangibles,” Jackson said. “And when you put all of those tangibles together with the quality of receivers and linemen that he’s got blocking for him, and the running backs that he can get the pill to, this guy is scary. The Panthers are scary.”

There's more.

“When you speak of Cam Newton, I’ll put it to you just like this: He has the arm strength and power of Dan Marino and John Elway combined,” Jackson said. “He is quicker than Michael Vick, faster than Michael Vick. And he will run over you with the power of a Jerome Bettis, Bo Jackson, Earl Campbell. That’s the kind of guy he is.”

Okay, perhaps Jackson's laying it on a bit thick, but he's clearly enamored with Newton's raw skills, something no one could say about Clausen a year ago.

But before we all start making Super Bowl plans, something worth considering: the Panthers' schedule. It's brutal.

A quick recap for those of you who don't have it committed to memory: @Arizona, Green Bay, Jacksonville, @Chicago, New Orleans, @Atlanta, Washington, Minnesota, BYE, @Tennessee, @Detroit, @Indianapolis, @Tampa Bay, Atlanta, @Houston, Tampa Bay, @New Orleans.

After perusing that list, there's a chance the Panthers, without much effort, could again stumble to two wins despite fielding a much better team. We suspect Jackson doesn't share our skepticism.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Panthers waive 2009 2nd-rounder Everette Brown

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Two and a half years after the Panthers gave up a first-round pick to move back into the second round to select Everette Brown, they released the former Florida State defensive end, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Steve Reed.

Brown appeared in 48 games during his Carolina career, registering 47 tackles, 6.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and a pick, but fell to fourth on the depth chart during training camp on a team coming off a 2-14 season. Brown's just 24, and at 6-4, 250 pounds, should have very little trouble finding work.

When the Panthers selected Brown, general manager Marty Hurney said, “We thought that Everette Brown was one of the better pass rushers in this draft. He’s got all of the intangibles and is a very hard worker. He has a good first step and plays with good strength. I think he helps our pass rush immediately and will work in the rotation with the ends.”

Days before, Pro Football Weekly offered this scouting report on Brown (via Aaron Aloysius on Twitter): "He was not asked to drop much in college and showed too much stiffness in reverse at his pro-day workout to project as a rush linebacker."

Hmm. Either way, Hurney's suspect early-round draft strategy continues. In addition to Brown, there's 2010 third-rounder Armanti Edwards (Carolina gave up a second-round pick to get him). A college quarterback, Edwards has struggled with the transition to wide receiver, which speaks more to the Panthers' personnel process than to Edwards' shortcomings as an NFL player.

Then there's 2010 second-rounder, Jimmy Clausen. The Panthers didn't trade up for him -- he fell so far and so fast they may not have had time -- but his NFL career to date can kindly be described as disappointing. He was forced onto the field last season when Matt Moore was injured and inconsistent, and statistically Clausen was one of the league's worst quarterbacks.

The Panthers and Hurney thought so much of him that they in April they drafted Cam Newton with the first-overall pick, and now it looks like Clausen could fall to No. 3 on the depth chart behind journeyman Derek Anderson.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 9:37 am
Edited on: September 2, 2011 9:38 am
 

Newton named starter, Clausen could be no. 3



Posted by Ryan Wilson

We've spent much of the preseason focused on the the battle for the backup job in Denver. It became clear early on that Kyle Orton would be the starter, despite offseason speculation that 2010 first-round pick Tim Tebow could ascend to the role. Instead,the storyline was Tebow vs. Brady Quinn with the winner getting the earpiece and clipboard on game days.

Meanwhile a more interesting backup quarterback competition was unfolding in Charlotte, where Cam Newton has been the unofficial starter since the moment he was taken with the first-overall pick in April. (The news became official Thursday night when it was printed on team letterhead and announced publicly by coach Ron Rivera.)

The contestants: Jimmy Clausen, the team's second-round pick a year ago who had about as rough a rookie season as could be dreamed up, and Derek Anderson, a 2007 Pro Bowler who fell on hard times in recent years with the Browns and the Cardinals.

In the Panthers' final preseason game against the Steelers, Anderson got the second-team snaps and took advantage of the opportunity. He finished the night 11 of 19 for 192 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to David Clowney. Clausen, on the other hand, had a forgettable effort. Details via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter and Carolina Growl writer Steve Reed:
Clausen had a disastrous night, throwing an interception on his first pass of the game and then fumbling a snap from center leading to a Steelers touchdown in the fourth quarter. He threw another pass that should have been picked off and was also sacked three times, including once on fourth down while the Panthers were in the red zone. He looked particularly slow moving around in the pocket after injuring his thigh last Thursday night against Cincinnati.

It was the first time this preseason that Anderson was the second quarterback into the game and could signal the Panthers are more comfortable with him being Newton's primary backup since he's more familiar with (offensive coordinator) Rob Chudzinski's offense.
Anderson came to Carolina from Arizona, but he has experience in Chudzinski's offense during their time together in Cleveland.

"The thing about that is Derek is a guy that doesn't need a lot of reps in this offense," Rivera said, via Reed. "At the same time, if something were to happen, he's a guy that because he doesn't need a lot of reps in this offense could probably help us. So we are most certainly going to take a look at that and see where that fits with what we want to do offensively."

As for the news that Newton will be under center when the Panthers take the field on September 11 at Arizona, Rivera sounded optimistic.

"We are looking forward to him being our starter," Rivera said. "He's going to grow as our starter and we're going to grow as a football team. The thing that has to happen is that we as a football team have to grow and it's not just about him. It's about the rest of growing with our system... I want to make this clear again: We didn't draft Cam to be our savior, we drafted him to help lead this football team. He will be our starter on opening day."

Pretty sure the fans don't see it this way, but that's what happens when the team struggles to go 2-14 the year before. For his part, Newton said all the right things about winning the job.

"That's a big opportunity and a big responsibility," he said. "To be a starter in this league there is so much that goes into it behind the scenes and I've got to be ready for that."

It turned out to be a dreadful night for former Notre Dame quarterbacks trying to climb NFL depth charts. In Denver, Quinn got the start and went 4 for 12 for 26 yards and an interception. If there's a silver lining it's this: because of the new game-day roster rules, teams no longer have to name an emergency third quarterback.

So should Rivera replace Newton, he could use either Anderson or Clausen at any point during the game. In theory, both players are co-backups. The reality -- at least after Clausen's performance against the Steelers -- is that he has the No. 3 job sewn up.

But, hey, the regular season hasn't even started. A lot can change in the coming weeks and months.  After all, the Browns drafted Quinn as their franchise quarterback in 2007 and that season Anderson led the team to 10 wins and he made the Pro Bowl. This game is crazy like that.

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Posted on: August 29, 2011 10:51 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 10:28 am
 

Podcast: Madden ratings, Arian Foster & Best WRs

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Tuesday is "Madden Day" around the world and to celebrate, Donny Moore, the ratings guru for EA Sports joins the podcast to talk about how EA will handle Peyton Manning's neck injury and Chris Johnson's holdout, whether Terrelle Pryor is worthy of a decent ranking, why Tim Tebow stinks so badly and how awesome Cam Newton will be in the new game. He also fills us in on who the sneakiest best teams to play with are.

Plus, the guys talk about Arian Foster's recent decision to tweet about fantasy football players harassing him over his injury, who has the best wide receiver corps in the NFL, Pryor playing quarterback for the Raiders in the final preseason game, and what the worst positions on each contender are.

Conversatin' starts … now (and while we have you, remember to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.


Posted on: August 27, 2011 5:36 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2011 5:37 pm
 

When will Rivera name Cam Newton the starter?

NewtonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Finally we have our answer. Finally, it’s been put to rest. Cam Newton is officially the Panthers starting quarterback … for the fourth preseason game.

That’s according to Rapid Reporter Steve Reed, who also writes that Carolina coach Ron Rivera still hasn’t said whether Newton will start the season-opener vs. the Cardinals.

Yet, Reed -- like most everyone else who follows the NFL -- appears to know what eventually will happen. He writes: “Newton will start the season opener at Arizona although, quite frankly, he’s still raw and not really ready. But he’s a better option than (Jimmy) Clausen, who still hasn’t shown the ability to make plays and is slow getting the ball out.”

Newton vs. Clausen
It seems pretty clear that Newton, who will start Thursday night’s preseason game vs. the Steelers, would have to suffer some kind of major meltdown in order to lose his hold on the starting job. And considering Clausen’s knee is banged up at the moment, Newton’s only other competition is Derek Anderson.* Now, all Newton has to do is throw a touchdown pass or, you know, convert a third down attempt (neither has occurred yet this preseason).

*Wouldn’t you rather watch Newton flounder around out there than be forced to watch Anderson do anything?

Which leads us to the conclusion that eventually (probably before the season opener), Rivera will be forced to tap Newton as the starting quarterback. But a word of caution. As ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas points out, Newton would be the first Carolina opening-day rookie starter since Chris Weinke in 2001.

And we all remember how well his career went after that.

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