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Rivera: Newton right where QB should be in Year 2

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2012 at 5:31 pm •  Published: November 27, 2012

"We are really trying to balance it out and spread it among the other players," Rivera said. "He has really responded very well to those things and it is funny because he did not want us to take anything off, he wanted more, and I think we had to give him an opportunity to take a breath once in a while."

Rivera said Newton has responded well.

"These last few weeks he has played like the guy that we believe he can become," Rivera said.

Another sign of Newton's developing maturation is his ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage, something he did with greater frequency in the win against the Eagles.

"I think he's starting to get comfortable with those things and really as he improves and learns those things he's getting better and better at it," Rivera said.

Teammates also see Newton getting more comfortable in a leadership role as he nears the end of his second season.

Newton was careful not to step on the toes of veteran players last season as a rookie. At times this season teammates have questioned his leadership ability, but veteran offensive tackle Jordan Gross said he sees the former Heisman Trophy winner making steady progress in that area.

"The last two weeks I have seen it," Gross said. "He played well last week (in a 27-21 overtime loss to Tampa Bay) and we were not able to win. But he's leading the team. He's on the sidelines talking to the o-line, talking to the receivers, doing everything we all wanted him to do. In the huddle, he's saying the right things. If he can continue to play this way and lead this way, the sky is the limit for him."

Newton said his biggest challenge this year has been consistency.

It's been a rollercoaster season with a good game followed by a bad one, something he's desperately trying to change.

"I know personally, I feel like with the throws it was kind of high, kind of low, kind of everywhere," Newton said after Carolina's win over the Eagles. "I just want to focus on being more consistent."

Statistically, the Philadelphia game was Newton's best performance of the season.

Just don't try telling him that.

"Absolutely not," he said. "I think my best game is still yet to come."