CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton has turned into Mr. Efficient.
The Panthers third-year quarterback has completed 81.3 percent (35 of 43) of his passes the past two weeks for 446 yards with four touchdown passes and no interceptions while leading the Panthers to back-to-back victories.
Newton said he thinks the difference in his play is being better prepared to walk on the field on Sunday — or in the case of this week, on Thursday night at Tampa Bay.
"I can't stress enough how proper preparation can increase the confidence come game time," Newton said. "When you come to the line and you know that you've been coached up to expect a certain look — and then you get that look — you don't panic."
Newton is quick to add, "That's not me."
He gives all of the credit to new offensive coordinator Mike Shula, quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey and backup QB Derek Anderson for their help in readying him for game day.
"They have made my life easier so that I won't have to think, I just have to react come game day," Newton said.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he's seen a different Newton this year, particularly the past two weeks.
"I see his comfort level in what we're doing," Rivera said. "He seems to be all over it, in terms of understanding the concepts and all the different things that we do as far as our offense is concerned. I think he's got a much better feel of what to expect, how people are attacking him and attacking us."
He said Newton's maturity level has improved, too.
"We've got to understand that he is developing and he's still growing," Rivera said of Newton, who only played one year of major college football at Auburn before entering the NFL draft in 2011. "He was a young man when he got drafted there were a lot of things that he's had to learn."
One of those was learning how to go through his progressions and get to his third and fourth reads.