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Cam Newton– Sophomore Slump or Not Ready for Primetime?

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bill-swift - September 28, 2012

There are certain things that come with being the quarterback of a football team. Besides being able to handle the physical aspects of the position, a player must be able to weather the mental aspects as well. Chief among those is being someone that the rest of the team can believe in and follow—a leader.

After having a standout rookie season, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has struggled so far in '12. He's been turnover prone (five interceptions, one lost fumble and has done little in the running game (81 yards on 24 carries). Now his leadership has come under question again.

Is this a sign of a larger issue that the Panthers need to be wary of or is it just another case of the sophomore slump?

The mental aspect of the game has sunk many careers over the years. Newton's grasp on the mental side has been questioned often in his short time in the league, most recently during last Thursday night's debacle against the New York Giants.

In case you missed it, veteran wide receiver Steve Smith basically gave Newton an earful of something for sitting on the bench sulking after throwing another interception. The message was similar to what two of his lineman, Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil, told him last season concerning his lack of leadership then too.

There is no doubt that Cam Newton has the physical attributes needed to play in the NFL. However it is not as easy to say he has the mind for it. While he hasn't had the public break down like many guys that struggle have had, the results speak for themselves.

So far he is 7-12; not exactly a winning percentage to be proud of. While his cumulative statistics as a rookie where clearly impressive, an examination of them shows what an erratic player he can be.

Last season he threw three interceptions twice; he also threw three touchdown passes twice. He had two 400+ yard games along with four 100+ yard passing games. His QB rating varied from a high of 142.4 to a low of 44.6. To sum it up, he showed a whole lot of potential, but proved to be wildly inconsistent as well.

Rumors have begun to circulate that Newton is seeing a sport psychologists, something that he has adamantly denied. However, if he were to see a psychologist it could make a huge difference in his career. A sports psychologist is accustomed to dealing with guys like him; the right one could help him tremendously.

The local media in Charlotte is already selling him out. A recent cartoon that depicted him wearing a Hello Kitty shirt underneath his jersey (rather than Superman) is evidence of that. If he doesn't find a way to get his demeanor and attitude under control in games the team will not be far behind.

Hey—it seems to work for the guys on the USA show Necessary Roughness

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