Cam Newton welcomes Steve Smith’s influence
Smith, a 12-year veteran, tried to have a positive impact on Newton’s still-developing game late in the Giants game, when the Panthers turned to backup quarterback Derek Anderson to play the last series in a lopsided loss.
Smith’s message to Newton? Learn from this.
“I’ve watched D.A. and Jimmy (Clausen) sit there and observe for 20-some games, trying to get mental reps. It’s an opportunity to get mental reps,” Smith said. “Don’t just sit on the bench and sulk. I know you feel bad, but that isn’t going to help you.”
Smith said he chose that moment to address Newton because, “I don’t want to be passive. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to be a big brother.”
“It’s about growing up and understanding what this is about,” Smith said. “God knows I’ve displayed my growing pains a lot more than other people.”
Newton won’t apologize for taking losses hard, and he and Smith hope to be talking about a victory after the Panthers visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday for a crucial NFC South matchup.
“Who likes to lose?” Newton said. “We go into each and every game expecting to win, having that mentality, wanting to win. If that doesn’t happen, you’re not going to see a lot of guys with jolly faces around here. We’re competing to win.
“Hopefully I can come back and do my part to have a successful game come Sunday.”
So far this week, that’s exactly the approach that Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has seen from his quarterback.
“It’s been very good, it really has,” Rivera said of Newton’s demeanor. “He was upset after the loss. He was upset on Friday. When we came in Monday and worked, he was ready to go.”
Newton and Smith formed a dynamic duo in Newton’s rookie season. While Newton became the first quarterback in NFL history – rookie or otherwise – to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in a season, Smith topped 1,300 receiving yards for the first time since 2008.
As a result, Newton and Smith had the chance to talk more at the Pro Bowl.
“We’ve talked pretty much every day since we became teammates, and we’ll continue to talk,” Smith said. “Hopefully like last year, come February we’ll talk in Hawaii.”