Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton played three quarters in his third preseason game, but completed less than a third of his passes, while compiling a 44.8 passer rating in a 24-13 pretend loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Newton did lead the Panthers in rushing in the game, running for 49 yards and a touchdown, but he completed only 6 of 19 passes for 75 yards. Told his passing stats after the game, the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft said, “That’s an embarrassing stat.” Through three preseason games, Newton has only completed about 40% of his passes.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera tried to take some of the heat off Newton, who is dealing with a shorter preseason because of the lockout and is playing for a team that was 2-14 last season. Here’s the coach’s take:
I thought he had some moments. He was a little erratic at times. He felt the pressure at times. I think that got to him a bit. At times, we didn’t help him. … The biggest thing we lost sight of, is that this is a new offense. It’s not just about Cam being ready to play; it’s about the other 10 guys, too. … The big thing we can’t lose focus of is that it’s not just about the one guy. We didn’t draft him to be the savior; we drafted him to lead this team. Right now, we’re in the throes of everyone is learning. We’ve got a long ways to go.
It sure sounds like Rivera still expects Newton to be his Week 1 starter. Newton also sounds like he wants that and expects to learn fast. “I’m trying to push myself over that hump,” Newton said. “I don’t want that [learning] curve of three or four years. I’ll be doggone if it takes me that long.”