Cam Newton has stepped into the spotlight in regard to the NFL’s often-criticized officiating in recent weeks. In fact, he’s been a focal point for much of the season, beginning in Week 1 when he was hit in the helmet multiple times.
His latest gripe with the officials came on Sunday, when he claimed to be hit illegally several times, saying he doesn’t feel safe on the field. It has put a target on his back among fellow NFL players, with Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert saying Newton shouldn’t be out there if he’s “scared.”
Now, his next opponent, the Rams, are speaking out on the situation.
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“He probably needs to slide a little bit faster,” defensive end William Hayes said, via the LA Times. We’re not going to out there to play dirty. We just play physical and fast. We’re not going to target him because he’s complaining about getting hit.”
The Rams are known for being one of the most physical teams in the NFL, so Newton will need to have his head on a swivel. That’s not to say they’re going to take cheap shots on him or try to hurt Newton, but the defensive line is aggressive and plays to the whistle. It’s how Jeff Fisher-led teams operate.
“The whole point of the game is for 11 people to hit 11 people,” defensive tackle Dominique Easley said.
Fisher also weighed in on Newton’s gripes, and didn’t exactly defend the quarterback. Why? Because every quarterback gets hit – sometimes illegally – each week.
“There are hits – illegal hits – that are missed in every game on a quarterback,” Fisher said. “We’ve got, probably, a half dozen or so on Case (Keenum) – and I have my own theory on that. They’re doing the best they can to officiate the game.
“I think he overreacted to the low hit from (Cardinals DE) Calais (Campbell), which, I’ve heard different things, should have been called, should not have been called.”
While Newton certainly had a case in Week 1 and probably does now, he can’t make it the focus of the game. He needs to simply go out and play, leaving any worry of being slighted by the refs on the sideline.