STEVE REED,AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton isn’t apologizing for being a sore loser.
The Carolina quarterback was still stewing over getting blown out 30-3 by Tennessee, saying Wednesday that it’s “embarrassing” and doesn’t sit well with his temperament.
“Rookie, no rookie, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If you’re on the Carolina Panthers, it doesn’t matter what your experience level is, it’s not acceptable.”
He said the Panthers need to change their ways — quickly.
Carolina plays at playoff-starved Detroit (6-3) on Sunday and the Lions will be plenty motivated after getting blown out themselves last week 37-13 by division rival Chicago.
“If we bring that same mentality that we brought last week we’re going to get busted in the mouth,” Newton said. “This is a physical team, down after down. They have an arsenal. They get after the quarterback and wreak havoc. And if you don’t play at that level or higher you’re going to get beat.
“You’re going to get embarrassed.”
Despite their record, the Panthers (2-7) hadn’t been embarrassed before the Tennessee game. The Panthers were competitive in their first eight contests. But after a bye week they came out flat and their high-powered offense failed to score a touchdown against the 15th-ranked Titans defense. Newton was sacked five times, intercepted once and held to 209 yards passing.
He said that can’t happen again this week.
Newton believes the Lions, led by fiery defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, have the best and deepest defensive front the Panthers have seen all year. He said the front four gets so much pressure they don’t necessarily need to blitz linebackers and defensive backs.
“They’re dangerous,” he said.
Newton can be dangerous too, as many teams have found out.
But Carolina’s concern in this copycat league is teams will replicate what the Titans did to the Panthers last week and begin to take away their vertical passing game.
“Bottom line, we have to protect Cam better,” center Ryan Kalil said.
Newton, as he regularly does, put the blame on himself.
He said he learned several things from watching last week’s game film, including just how important it is to get rid of the ball when under pressure.
Four times Newton was sacked on first down by the Titans.
“A throwaway incompletion and it’s second and 10 rather than second and 17,” Newton said. “We can work with (second and 10). We have plays in the playbook that can get us back on point to get a first down.”
It’s not unusual for Newton to beat himself up in the media.
He said he holds himself — as well as his teammates — to a high standard, not only through words but his actions. That’s why Newton said he stays late on most days to study film.
“You invest all of that time into it and you’re not reaping the benefits like you’d expect,” Newton said. “That’s why it hurts me so much.”
And often times it shows.
Newton has come under criticism when television cameras have caught him sitting on the bench wearing a white Gatorade towel over his head and looking dejected, which some view as poor leadership. Others criticized him for not shaking the hands with the Atlanta Falcons after the team’s loss at the Georgia Dome, calling him a sore loser.
“I can only live my life,” Newton said. “But for me (losing) is something that I’m not used to. And it’s not something I will get used to. You can look at it as poor leadership. You can look at it as a sore loser. I would rather be a sore loser than (someone who accepts it) because I’m not used to losing. I’m not going to have that mentality of ‘man, this team is better than us.’ I’m going to fight until the last breath and I’m going to give it my all.”
Coach Ron Rivera doesn’t want Newton to change one iota.
He’s repeatedly called him an intense competitor who deeply cares about winning and losing.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, also a former No. 1 overall draft pick, can certainly understand Newton’s frustration.
Stafford started 10 games as a rookie in 2009 and lost all but two. The Lions finished 2-14.
“As a rookie every week is a learning process,” Stafford said. “You’re seeing an opponent for the first time every time you play. You’re seeing a new defensive coordinator, a new scheme, new players… so it’s difficult. You have to play through. Cam’s doing a heck of a job. He’s throwing the ball around and playing great. He’s fun to watch. He’ll be just fine.”
Stafford laughs when thinking back to his rookie season.
“I didn’t have some of my best games as a rookie, just as some of these games won’t be Cam’s best,” Stafford said. “But going out there and battling and playing with your teammates gives you confidence as a leader — and that’s huge in the long run.”
NOTES: The MRI on Jeremy Shockey’s side came back negative and the hope is he’ll be ready for Detroit, Rivera said. Shockey was held out of practice Wednesday to rest, along with linebacker James Anderson (ankle), cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (head) and linebacker Jason Phillips (calf). Of those, Phillips is the least ready to play, Rivera said… The Panthers begin a stretch of three straight road games Sunday. Five of their final seven games are on the road.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
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