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Rivera: Struggling Panthers' QB Newton 'pressing'

Associated Press Modified: October 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm •  Published: October 8, 2012
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Quarterback Cam Newton heads into the bye week of his second NFL season searching for answers and the Carolina Panthers off to a slow 1-4 start.

Coach Ron Rivera said Monday his 23-year-old QB is pressing.

Rivera believes Newton, last year's AP offensive rookie of the year, is trying too hard to make big plays and needs to concentrate more on taking what opposing defenses are willing to give him.

"He wants to make things happen so much. . It's all part of him developing as a football player," Rivera said.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton struggled again during Sunday's 16-12 loss to Seattle. Newton was sacked four times and completed just 12 of 29 passes for 141 yards as the offense failed to produce a touchdown.

"I have to be accurate throwing the ball and the check downs and that didn't happen" Sunday, Newton, who did not speak to the media Monday, said after the loss to the Seahawks. "To a degree, I'm kind of embarrassed, you know? But things are going to get better."

His disappointing stats have almost nowhere to go but up.

Newton has thrown five interceptions and just four touchdown passes. He has rushed for three touchdowns but also has fumbled five times, equaling his total from last season.

There are 21 starting quarterbacks in the NFL with a higher pass completion percentage. Looking at the numbers, it's no surprise Newton has struggled badly at times to help the Panthers put points on the board.

Rivera said defenses have adjusted to Newton and the Panthers' style of offense, which means Newton sometimes must go for shorter pass completions rather than attempting to force the ball down the field.

"There are some things teams are doing to take certain things that we do with our passing game," Rivera said. "We've got to be able to go from what we're doing, what we're seeing, and react to that and then make plays accordingly. I think we have that ability in this offense, when you look at the different routes that we run, the combinations that are out there. If they take certain things away, we've got to go somewhere else and use those options.

"We haven't been successful doing that. But we can be, because it's there. It's within what we do."

Against the Seahawks, Rivera said Newton may have tried to force the ball to wide receiver Steve Smith too often. The coach said there were times when Newton had other wide receivers, or tight end Greg Olsen, open on routes underneath the Seattle pass coverage, but failed to get the ball to them.

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