Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera doubles down on Cam Newton’s QB safety comments

Cam Newton blasts officials "At times I don't feel safe"

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Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has doubled down on his quarterback’s comments about NFL officials not doing enough to protect him.

Cam Newton ranted after a 30-20 victory over Arizona on Sunday about a no-call on a below-the-knees hit from Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell late in the third quarter. Newton’s leg bent backward on the play – he said postgame that he “could’ve torn my ACL” and “that was the breaking point.”

On Monday, Rivera agreed something needs to be done.

“Cam is correct,” he said. “I support him 100 percent in this. I was disappointed it wasn’t called. But I get the benefit of looking up at the screen and seeing it on replay. It confirmed what I thought. It’s difficult. You’d like to see those calls made. I’d love to see our quarterback get those calls.”

Rivera said that he thinks Newton’s size is the reason the flags aren’t being thrown.

“I think he gets a little bit of the Shaquille O’Neal treatment,” he said. “He’s a bigger guy for that position as opposed to some of the smaller quarterbacks of stature. When they get hit, they roll around to the ground. When he gets it, he absorbs them and it doesn’t look as bad.”

I get it when he’s a known runner and out of the pocket. But when he’s in the pocket, he deserves to be treated like any other quarterback. Diving at his knees and stuff, that’s not good.

Tight end Ed Dickson, on low, uncalled hits on Cam Newton

Added tight end Ed Dickson: “I get it when he’s a known runner and out of the pocket. But when he’s in the pocket, he deserves to be treated like any other quarterback. Diving at his knees and stuff, that’s not good. ... I guess that’s an excuse, his size. But this league is filled with tall quarterbacks. Big quarterback. You got to make it consistent; if one person gets the call (then) they all should get the call.”

Newton, the league’s 2015 MVP, said Sunday it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is – he’s flat-out being treated differently.

“It’s really taking the fun out of the game for me,” Newton said. “At times I don’t even feel safe. And enough is enough. I plan on talking to Commissioner (Roger) Goodell about this. And I don’t know what I have to do.”

Rivera said he reached out to Goodell, and that he has discussed his concerns with the league multiple times. He added Goodell responded, but he did not divulge the specifics of the conversation -- but he thinks the league has “responded appropriately.”

Rivera, who is on the NFL coaches’ rules subcommittee, said solutions that have been discussed among that group, including adding an eighth official, making referees full-time and incorporating quarterback hits into the replay system.

“We’ve talked recently about that,” he said. “Those are ongoing discussions. Again, the league is looking into that. Not just for Cam, but for all quarterbacks. My concern is for our quarterback.”

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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