CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers receiver Steve Smith says he" lit into" Cam Newton about his actions on the sideline when the young quarterback was replaced late in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's 36-7 blowout loss to the New York Giants.
Smith said he was upset when Newton sat sulking on the bench instead of getting up to watch backup Derek Anderson and trying to learn from his own mistakes.
As a team captain and the elder statesman of the team, Smith felt something needed to be said to the 23-year old Newton about the importance of remaining positive and better handling adversity.
"I don't want to be passive and not do it because if I don't do it, who will?" Smith said. "The same way with my son, I can't expect somebody else (to do that). So yeah, I lit into him because I thought it was an opportunity for him to see and understand what was going on. This is more than about playing football. It's about becoming a man and understanding what this is."
Newton declined comment through the team's public relations staff. The team said he isn't speaking until next Wednesday.
Players have the weekend off.
Coach Ron Rivera lifted Newton in the fourth quarter against the Giants after his third interception with Carolina trailing by 26 points. Rivera said he took out Newton because the game was out of hand.
After Newton was replaced by Anderson, Smith spoke to Newton on the bench because he felt he was sulking over the impending loss.
"I said, 'Get up and learn from this,'" Smith said. "I watched DA (Anderson) and Jimmy (Clausen) observe from the sidelines the last 20-something games and try to get mental reps. This is an opportunity for you to get some mental reps. Don't just sit on the bench and sulk. I know you feel bad, but that isn't going to help us."
It's the second straight year teammates have questioned Newton's demeanor on the sideline.
Last year offensive linemen Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross both spoke to Newton in private about the importance of not getting down during a game.
"It's about not missing an opportunity to give him some advice that maybe I didn't listen to (when I was young) or maybe nobody told me," said the 32-year-old Smith.