There may not be a player who saw his stock rise on the Carolina Panthers, and possibly in the NFL, more than Cam Newton. After a weak first half, one that included two interceptions and less than 50 passing yards, Newton rebounded, showed resiliency and led his team back from a 13-point deficit. He finished this game with 299 total yards (269 passing, 30 rushing) and two touchdowns, including a touchdown pass to Greg Olsen in the final minute of the game.
This may be the best start to any season in Cam Newton's career, and he is doing it with probably his worst supporting cast. Aside from Olsen, who is having an incredible season, there hasn't been many players who have stepped up.
The team's wide receivers have been almost non-existent meanwhile Jonathan Stewart finally came alive with a season-high 78 rushing yards against the Seahawks. This may be Newton's finest work to date and he will have a chance to show it off to a national audience Sunday night when the Panthers face the Philadelphia Eagles.
Another player who has been having an incredible season, and seems to go unnoticed, is defensive tackle Kawann Short. For a majority of his career, he has been a bit of an afterthought considering he was drafted the same year as first round pick Star Lotulelei. However, it is hard to ignore him this year.
Against the Seahawks, Short was dominant in the middle and finished the game with five tackles and two sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, Short is the fourth best defensive tackle in the NFL with a positive rating of 18 and third against the run with a positive rating of 10.7.
The scary part is that those numbers could be going up as the season goes on. Right now, the Panthers have two defensive ends starting (Kony Ealy and Wes Horton) who have been inconsistent. However, there are two veterans who are recovering from injuries that will command more attention from offensive lines in Charles Johnson and Jared Allen. This could open up more winnable matchups for Short as the season progresses.
The Panthers' starting left tackle has become a regular on this side of the stock report as he continues to struggle. There was plenty of questions about whether or not Michael Oher could still play the position after playing primarily the right side the past two years. Through the Panthers' first five games, that question still lingers.
The team has not been able to find an answer for left tackle since Jordan Gross retired and Byron Bell took over last year. The thought was a veteran like Oher might be able to provide some stability to the position but through five games Oher has been given a rating of -9.7 by Pro Football Focus and is rated as the worst left tackle when it comes to run blocking. The offensive line as a whole is vastly improved but the left tackle is a position that once again the front office will need to address in the offseason.
Leading up to the bye week, Tre Boston saw his playing time increase from one snap in Week 2 to 16 in Week 3 to 32 in Week 4. The coaching staff was starting to split more time between Roman Harper and the second-year safety Boston.
That all changed against the Seahawks as Boston was only on the field for five of the 61 Panthers' defensive snaps. This is certainly a huge difference from the end of last year when Boston was the starting safety, taking the job from Thomas Decoud. However, free agent signing Kurt Coleman earned the starting job during training camp and Boston has been pushed to the bench.
The Panthers have a great opportunity here this year with Harper and Boston and splitting up the work at the safety position. The more work Boston gets this year will help in his development and can keep Harper fresher this year, as he gets up there in age and towards the end of his career.
It remains to be seen if the coaching staff just wanted a veteran player in a big game like this or they don't feel confident in Boston. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in the coming weeks.