The last time the Carolina Panthers played the Minnesota Vikings, they got drilled 31-13 on a blustery day in Minneapolis in 2014.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday that was probably more about the 14-degree weather than what his defense did to contain quarterback Cam Newton (whose passer rating that day was 65.7), But Zimmer said video of Sunday’s victory over the San Francisco 49ers showed how much Newton has grown the past two years.
“Since the last time we played him he’s so much improved: The command of the offense, he doesn’t get rattled under pressure, he scrambles to find the seams in the defense,” Zimmer said in a conference call with Charlotte media. “I think obviously these receivers help him quite a bit. They do a good job in the run game and in the protection. (But) I was telling someone last night the maturation in (Newton) is like night-and-day from then to now.”
Asked about the diversity of the Panthers’ offense, Zimmer replied, “It makes Tuesdays bad days around here because they have so many weapons.”
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Zimmer singled out tight end Greg Olsen and the Panthers’ offensive line for praise.
“Olsen is a tremendous tight end. He may be the best,” Zimmer said. “I’m impressed with the offensive line – how they handle pressures and protections. I think they’re coached very well.”
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