Cam Newton sure came out of his scuffle a lot better than Geno Smith did. The news of the New York Jets quarterback getting “sucker-punched,” as his coach called it, and then having to sit out six-10 weeks with a fractured jaw set the Panthers’ lunchroom buzzing Tuesday as it spread around the room at Wofford College.
Odd, isn’t it? Two NFL quarterbacks, two altercations, two days. Smith’s situation did put Newton’s in some perspective in terms of seriousness – although I still don’t agree with what Newton did Monday in his fight with Josh Norman.
▪ Newton was smart on Tuesday to go ahead and address the matter with the media. He characterized the incident in a number of ways, but the simplest was this: “I think we’re making a big deal out of nothing.” He also said the Panthers “are better because of it.”
I don’t think it was nothing. But could the Panthers become better because of it? That is possible. There are plenty of instances of teams drawing closer after adversity, even of the self-manufactured kind.
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▪ Panthers coach Ron Rivera called the New York Jets’ situation “unfortunate” Tuesday afternoon, but said he was confident that Newton and Norman had put their differences aside and nothing would spill over.
▪ Tight end Greg Olsen strongly defended Newton Tuesday – so strongly, in fact, that he kept adding weight to Newton to make him seem even more imposing.
Newton is officially listed at 245 pounds (while Norman is listed at 195).
Here’s what Olsen said Newton being on the ground Monday after the fight with Norman: “He’s 260 pounds. He’s rushed for more touchdowns and yards than almost any quarterback in NFL history through his career. He’s a big boy. He’s fine. I think everyone needs to stop overreacting. ... It’s bizarre. It really is. He’s 265 pounds. He could be 275 pounds if he wanted to. He’s one of the biggest guys on the team. He carries the ball 15 times a game like a running back. I think a little hand-slapping fight with a DB in practice – I think we’ll be OK.”
Good thing that interview didn’t continue much longer, or Newton might have been topping Olsen’s scales at around 300.
▪ Watch for T.J. Heath Friday night in the exhibition at Buffalo. The Panthers’ newest cornerback has been making a lot of plays in practice.