Rivera defends Newton's soph. season

Coach Ron Rivera says despite some growing pains he believes Cam Newton is improving and is ''right where you want a second-year quarterback to be.''

Coach Ron Rivera says despite some growing pains he believes Cam Newton is improving and is ''right where you want a second-year quarterback to be.''

Newton's overall record as an NFL starter is just 9-18 and he hasn't come close this year to matching the numbers he put up as a rookie.

Still, Rivera says Carolina's 30-22 victory Monday night over Philadelphia only reaffirms his belief Newton is making steady strides. Newton threw for 306 yards and had four touchdowns - two passing and two rushing - in the victory.

The Panthers expected more of those types of performances from Newton this season.

Rivera says the coaching staff's decision to ''take things off his plate'' midway through the season has been instrumental in Newton's increased production in recent weeks.

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