Cam Newton has heard the complaints about how he handles losses.
The second-year quarterback readily admits he takes losses tough. He’s heard the jeers about the towel over his head and late-game sulking.
“A lot of people deal with things differently. Losing is difficult. Period,” Newton said Wednesday. “A person that says losing is not difficult, I don’t even want to be around that person. And obviously that person has never won anything relevant in their life. So for a person to say, ‘Yeah, we lost and we have to keep going.’ Yeah, you keep saying that and sooner or later you’re going to look up and be 0-16.
“So you have to take advantage of every opportunity you have in this league and you have to take it personal. Do I take it personal? Absolutely right. Do I take it too personal? Who knows? But I’d rather take it too personal than lackadaisical.”
Newton said quarterbacks showing public emotion is a lose-lose proposition.
If he’s smiling on the sideline, he believes people will think he’s taking things too lightly. If he’s sulking, the reaction is what it’s been for the past year.
“I’ve been hearing so much about my reaction after the game, having a ‘psych coach.’ It baffles me the things that I hear. But at the end of the day I’m still going to be Cameron Newton and the goals that I have set for myself personally from the start have to be met by myself first and this team second.”
BIG DIFFERENCE: The Panthers are well aware that there’s a big difference between 1-4 and 2-3.
Should Carolina lose its third straight Sunday against Seattle, it would fall to 1-4, a record from which few NFL teams have made the playoffs.
“You’d like to go into the bye on a high note, so you can build coming out of it,” coach Ron Rivera said. “They’re 2-2 and they’re coming off a loss, as well. Their mentality and thought process is ‘this is important,’ just like it is for us. We had an opportunity to make some ground up last week, and we didn’t do that. Now we have to most certainly make some up this week.”
Wide receiver Steve Smith said going 2-3 is beyond important, calling it “essential.”
“For every loss, things get tighter and tighter,” Smith said. “Where the little things that are said are being taken and being blown out of proportion. The looks are blown out of proportion. Someone says something to someone else and it’s blown out of proportion.
“When you become 1-7 or whatever it is, the band stops playing after the ship starts to sink. It’s everybody for themselves.”
When asked if he listens to the criticism, Smith sounded like the 12-year veteran he is.
“If you listen to everybody’s opinion, we should have shut this organization down, fired everybody and turned it into a strip mall,” Smith said.
INJURY WATCH: Rivera said he’s concerned about the three starters who did not practice Wednesday: middle linebacker Jon Beason (knee), cornerback Chris Gamble (shoulder) and guard Geoff Hangartner (knee).
Backup defensive end Frank Alexander (back) and special teamer Colin Jones (shoulder) did not participate, but Rivera said he had less worries about those two being ready Sunday.
Backup offensive lineman Mike Pollak returned to practice in a limited capacity as he nurses a banged-up shoulder that has kept him out the past three games.
Defensive end Antwan Applewhite, who missed the Atlanta game with a knee injury, was back at practice.
REMEMBERING RUSSELL: The Panthers drafted Newton No. 1 overall in 2011, but had an interest in Russell Wilson as a potential backup this year. The Panthers brought Wilson, the former N.C. State and Wisconsin standout, to Charlotte for a pre-draft interview and liked him as a possible late-round pickup.
Wilson wound up going in the third round to Seattle, where he’s started all four games.
“He got picked where we thought he would. We thought he’d get picked the first few rounds,” Rivera said. “We did like him. We did bring him in and did interview him.”
Wilson said he respects Panthers quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, the former Alabama coach who tried to get Wilson to come to Tuscaloosa.
EXTRA POINTS: Defensive end Charles Johnson said the league fined him $7,000 for grabbing the facemask of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan last week – one of Johnson’s team-record 3.5 sacks. Johnson plans to appeal.
Johnson’s fine comes a week after strong safety Charles Godfrey was fined $7,875 for pulling off the helmet of Giants tight end Martellus Bennett.
The Seahawks have returned 230 tickets for Sunday’s sold-out game at Bank of America Stadium.