Cam Newton has always been known for his running ability, his supreme athleticism and size, allowing him to make Gumby-like moves while also being able to power through arm tackles.
He rushed for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns in his one year at Auburn en route to the national championship and the Heisman Trophy, but some people still doubted how that athleticism would translate to the NFL level. He quickly dispelled those reservations by rushing for 14 touchdowns and setting the NFL record for rushing touchdowns, along with other numerous rookie records in his first season with the Carolina Panthers.
Newton hasn’t put up quite the same numbers on the ground since his magical rookie season, but that’s not necessarily bad thing. Newton has matured more as a quarterback, waiting to run at the right time instead of forcing plays. As a result, the Panthers have been able to generate more wins especially this season, winning four of their last five.
Those four games have been some of the best of Newton’s career, and he will look to continue that momentum into his Week 9 matchup with the Falcons.
The Falcons don’t have nearly the amount of defensive playmakers they once had, with John Abraham departing in free agency, while Kroy Biermann and Sean Weatherspoon have gone down with injury. The one strength they do have on defense is their secondary, sporting ballers like Asante Samuel and Thomas DeCoud, so they will look to neutralize Carolina’s newly-efficient passing attack.
The Panthers’ running game will also be in flux with DeAngelo Williams nursing a hamstring injury and Jonathan Stewart returning from injury, so it will be on Cam to make things happen on the ground.
The Falcons would normally spy Newton with Weatherspoon in this situation, but with Weatherspoon injured, they may be in trouble. He was the only player on the Falcons roster that has the combination of strength and speed to stay with Newton and bring him down, a small feat in itself. Look for Newton to tear it up on the ground while the Falcons’ defense struggles to adapt.