Cam Newton has a charisma that's hard to define. It reminds Panthers coach Ron Rivera of another very popular player from the 1980s, RB Walter Payton.
coach Ron Rivera said he loves Cam Newton
's approach to the game of football.
It's not uncommon to find Newton running around the practice field running from drill to drill with his arms outstretched, swerving as he goes pretending to be an eagle.
"The only other player I've seen that has that kind of charisma or charm, in my opinion, was Walter Payton," said Rivera, who played with Payton on the Chicago Bears
' 1985 Super Bowl team. "I think there's something about guys like that that are special. They love practicing, they love meeting, they love just coming here and being here.
"Walter was the same way. He just loved being at the facility, loved to practice, loved his teammates. Treats everybody with the same type of respect. They both have this attitude about losing – they hate losing. Everything they did was to win. They've always been winners ... it's infectious."
Newton carried that over to the field on Sunday when he gave a ball to a little kid in the stands after a touchdown run.
He admits that was the suggestion of coach Mike Shula.
"He says to me, 'You do all that riff raff, whatever you do, but at the end you give that football to a little kid. You find a little kid.'" Newton said of Shula.
"So after I did whatever I did. I heard somebody (Shula) in my (helmet) headset saying, 'Give it to a little kid! Give it to a little kid!' I looked and there was this kid just gleaming from ear to ear, so I gave it to him."
QB Cam Newton set a team record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback with seven and is closing in on Steve Grogan's all-time single-season NFL record of 12.
RB Jonathan Stewart has rushing touchdowns in each of the last two games and is being used more in goal-line situations to take the pressure off Cam Newton.
RB DeAngelo Williams and the Panthers' running game has improved from 31st to eighth after four solid weeks of running the football.
WR Steve Smith is averaging a whopping 21 yards per catch and needs just 182 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
WR Legedu Naanee got a vote of confidence on Monday and will remain the No. 2 receiver.
WR Brandon LaFell will remain the team's third receiver despite steady improvement. Ron Rivera likes LaFell in that role. LaFell scored a touchdown on Sunday to ice the game against Washington.
TE Greg Olsen had just one catch on Sunday and wasn't a big part of the game plan. It's tough to tell if Olsen's sore tore played a role in that.
TE Jeremy Shockey has played a more prominent role in Carolina's offense in recent weeks.
OT Byron Bell started in place of Jeff Otah who is out for the season and gave up a third sack in as many starts, but the team likes the way the rookie is coming along.
DE Charles Johnson now has six sacks in seven games and 14 sacks in his last 14 games.
LB Jason Phillips earned another start this week against Minnesota after a solid game against Washington, coach Ron Rivera said.
CB Chris Gamble ended nearly a two-year drought without an interception with a pick on Sunday vs, the Skins. Gamble is now tied with Eric Davis for the all-time franchise record with 25.
DT Sione Fua and Terrell McClain will see decreased reps as they're approaching the rookie wall, coach Ron Rivera said.
LB Omar Gaither has missed the last two games with a sprained MCL but the Panthers hope to get him on the field on a limited basis this week.
S Jordan Pugh missed Sunday's game with a concussion. His status for this week remains uncertain.
P Jason Baker continues to punt the ball well for Carolina and the coverage teams are getting better.
K Olindo Mare hit on all four field goal attempts and has missed only once on 14 attempts from inside the 50. He's also been stellar on kickoffs.
PR Armanti Edwards has yet to make a big play in the return game.
WR Kealoha Pilares will continue to return kickoffs this week against the Vikings as Mike Goodson remains in the doghouse.