Newton laser focused on Steelers, not injuries or outside distractions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s been a heck of a week of Cam Newton.
First, Newton and his Carolina Panther teammates were informed Sunday morning that starting defensive end Greg Hardy wouldn’t be playing due to being deactivated as a result of a domestic violence charge looming over his head.
Then came the Detroit game, which was Newton’s first full game of the 2014 season, be it regular or preseason. He led the Panthers to a big 24-7 win Sunday over the Lions. That was followed by him and the rest of Panthers being told on Wednesday that Hardy would no longer be with the team until further notice, after having been placed on the exempt list.
Even with all that happening, Newton said Carolina (2-0) has tunnel vision in regard to the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1), who come to town Sunday night for a primetime game.
"Things are going to happen inside the locker room and things are going to happen outside the locker room, but our main focus has to be steadfast on moving forward and how and how we’re going to get better," Newton said at his weekly press conference. "Right now, we need to get better and ready to go Sunday night."
Newton said he’s spoken to Hardy, and that he’s not going to turn his back on him. However, he also added that life goes on.
"There’s a lot of guys that feel for Greg, including myself. But we still have a job to do and that’s to put the best performance that we have had this whole season for Sunday night," Newton said. "We’re not going to let that affect us on the field. It’s kind of hard to do that, especially in this type of situation, but in the end it’s not about Greg Hardy. It’s about the Carolina Panthers trying to put out the best product that they can and come game time, be ready to go."
If the Hardy situation, which has garnered widespread national attention, wasn’t enough, Newton has had to deal with his injuries.
Following his first game, Newton felt the intense pain in his ankle, which was surgically repaired in March, and in one of his ribs, which has a hairline fracture.
He spent Monday and Tuesday getting treatment, trying to alleviate some of the discomfort.
"Extremely sore," Newton said when asked how he felt after being playing Detroit (1-1). "But after a couple of days of getting treatment, that soreness is flushing out.
"I’m not complaining because I know it’s going to pay off sooner or later. It’s frustrating to have this nicked up and have that nicked up, and trying things that you’re not able to do. But knowing that the only way you’re going to get better is being steadfast with treatment."
Members of the Carolina coaching staff said Newton needs to learn to get to the ground quicker and slide feet first, as opposed to diving or trying to avoid contact like a running back. That’s how he injured his rib in the first place.
However, Newton has maintained all along that he’s going to keep playing the way that has made him successful to this point.
"I don’t think that’s a big issue for me," Newton said. "I think the bigger issue is me staying healthy and staying away from big hits as I always have. And when that’s all the defense gives me, get down and get down fast."
With injuries and the Hardy situation swirling around him, Newton said that he and the team have been able to treat this week just as if it were any other week. He added players go down with injuries all the time, but it’s those teams that are able to handle it best that are often the most successful.
"That’s the DNA of great teams, we don’t let things affect us that’s off the field," he said. "When we get in between those lines, we have one expectation and that expectation is to win."