Cam Newton ran the ball five times for four yards in Carolina's Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay. When the Panthers beat the Saints in Week 2, Newton had 71 yards on 14 carries.
Is Carolina's success tied to Newton carrying the ball frequently and productively?
Offensive lineman Jordan Gross told the Charlotte Observer that might not be too far from the truth.
“When he runs, it causes problems for defenses. That 40-yard run he had shows you it’s not like he’s just a slow quarterback running,” Gross said. “He’s a threat on the ground. He threw the ball well, too. I think he plays better when he’s doing all that stuff. He kind of gets more in the groove of things and he throws the ball better and just has a better day usually.”
The Observer's story lists team records when Newton rushes well in comparison to the rest of the team.
The Panthers are 6-3 when Newton rushes for at least 50 yards but 1-4 when he is their leading rusher.
So the story here is Carolina fares well when Newton is productive, but not when he's the most productive rusher.
That makes perfect sense, and is exacerbated by the performance Newton put up throwing the ball against the Saints. Not only did he post a 129.2 quarterback rating, but he got Brandon LaFell involved frequently.
If LaFell can turn into a legitimate No. 2 option at wide receiver and Newton can continue to pound away on the ground while the running back corps behind him excels, this offense can do some serious damage in 2012.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons under Mike Smith are 5-0 on the West Coast.
Several key players did not participate in practice Tuesday, including Byron Bell, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Pollak, Thoams Davis and Colin Jones, according to the team's website. Jon Beason, Steve Smith, Kealoha Pilares and Ryan Kalil were limited.
The Saints signed cornerback Elbert Mack on Tuesday, according to the Times-Picayune. The resulting transaction was the release of cornerback Jerome Murphy. New Orleans also came to an injury settlement with Adrian Arrington and released him.
While Da'Quan Bowers is on the PUP list, he's becoming more of a student of the game. [Pewter Report]