After Panthers quarterback Cam Newton far exceeded expectations as a rookie, his coach isn’t worried at all about a sophomore slump.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told the Charlotte Observer that Newton’s work ethic is as impressive as his athletic talent, and as a result Newton looks like he’s going to be better in 2012 than he was in 2011.
“I will say this about a sophomore slump – if there’s anybody that’s going work through it, he’s going to work through it,” Rivera said. “When the season was over, one of the things he said was he wanted to find a way to make sure he didn’t have one. I think the less we talk about it, the less we get caught up in it, the better. It’s like the Madden curse, he really wanted to be the cover. I think that’s the thing. Instead of running from it, saying, oh, I hope it doesn’t happen – it’s not going to happen. I’m not going to let it happen. I think that’s his approach to the sophomore slump.”
The No. 1 overall pick the year before Newton, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, had a sophomore slump in 2011, and Newton set such a high bar for himself last year with 4,000 passing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns that it’s going to be difficult for him to match his rookie production. So a sophomore slump wouldn’t be a shock. But Rivera sees Newton work every day, and it would be a shock to him.