CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton isn’t ready to curtail his running, even if it gives him a black eye like it did on the seventh play of Friday night’s preseason victory over the New England Patriots.
Newton landed on his helmet so hard after going up and over a defender at the end of a third-and-9 scramble that his helmet slid down over his left eye and left him with a shiner.
He also was evaluated for a concussion but returned four plays later after being cleared.
“It wasn’t no swelling by that time on the field,” Newton said. “I just kept telling them, ‘My eye hurts, my eye hurts.’ It was as if someone poked me in the eye. The helmet just came down. It didn’t feel good.”
Newton said the last time he had a black eye was in middle school.
“You should have seen the other person, what they had,” he said with a smile. “I’m just teasing.”
But the 2015 NFL MVP wasn’t teasing when he said the eye still hurt almost three hours later.
“I feel it growing, too,” he said. “It’s like the pressure of my eye. I’m the unincorporated assigned coach for swag on the Carolina Panthers. I’m still looking to find persons to send these invoices to, because I feel I’m responsible for a lot of people upping their swag, which leads into better game play.
“That’s a different story. I’m not used to seeing myself feel like this. It’s getting to me. What to do? I’m just going to find a lot of ice on this off day and soak in it.”
Coach Ron Rivera would prefer his quarterback not go airborne, particularly in a preseason game, but he knows that’s part of Newton’s DNA.
“I always worry about him,” Rivera said of Newton, who has rushed for more yards (4,320) than any quarterback in the NFL since 2011. “That’s him. He plays to win.
“I’d much rather he didn’t [take chances]. But again, he’s going to give his all.”
Newton said a lot of things went through his mind as he approached the defender.
“Most importantly I was thinking to myself, ‘It’s preseason. It’s preseason. What do I do?”’ he said. “And I’m like, ‘I want to get a first down, but I want to bring this plane down as smoooooothly as possible.’ I’m thinking all that, my man went low and I tried to avoid the hit and just helicoptered out of there … or whatever, and the helmet came down on my eye.
“So I’m not feeling the best right now.”
Asked to describe the landing, Newton smiled again and said, “It could have been better. It could have been better. There was a lot of malfunctions going on from the cockpit. Buttons were getting stuck. Oh my goodness. It was bad. It was real bad.”
Newton has spent the preseason adapting to new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s scheme based on more high-percentage passes. Turner’s goal is to get his quarterback, who has a 58.5 career completion percentage, into the 65 to 70 percent range.
Newton completed 11 of 17 passes for 142 yards against New England and finished his preseason 26-of-38 (68.4 percent) passing for 315 yards and one touchdown. He is not expected to play in next week’s preseason finale at Pittsburgh, and the way he felt after Friday’s game he wouldn’t want to.
Turner wants to see Newton get the ball into the hands of his playmakers more instead of taking chances on designed runs, although he won’t take designed quarterback runs out of the offense.
Newton also won’t hesitate to scramble for every yard he can get if it helps the team win.
“I only know how to play this game one way,” Newton said. “A lot of times it becomes my curse. In more ways it’s my gift.”