Panthers quarterback is having a bounce back season this year, guiding Carolina to a 8-3 record, after a disastrous 2012, one in which many questioned Newton’s maturity.
On Wednesday Newton talked to the local Tampa Bay media on a conference call and spoke on a number of subjects including the Panthers’ success so far in 2013, his new diet and his vote for this season’s Heisman Trophy.
Below is a transcript from Wednesday’s conference call.
(On what’s been the key to the sustained success during the seven-game win streak)“Well one thing that’s been somewhat of our thing that we constantly remind each other of is holding each other accountable. Whether it’s being at a meeting on time, being alert at meetings and just being great on the practice field and as a result it’s been translating into great plays on Sundays.”
(On having to learn not to do too much)“It’s just been a constant reminder in practice. As preparation goes, that’s something that [offensive coordinator Mike] Shula as well as [quarterbacks Coach Ken] Dorsey has been working with me on. Taking what the defense gives me, trusting myself that I would get myself in a good play or put the team in a great position to be successful.”
(On wide receiver Steve Smith helping him become a better leader)“Smitty’s been great man, ever since I’ve been a part of this team, going on my third year, he’s kind of been somewhat of like big brother to me. He’s helped me with things on the field, as well as off, and his presence is much needed for a lot of reasons for me. Making a hell of a catch on fourth-and-10 last week, just being somewhat of a staple, [a] leader on this team for so long and he’s a guy who holds himself to higher standard as far as when it comes to making plays. It’s a lot of guys that’s in the huddle at one time that have had that marquee athlete label on their chest or up under them and come time to make plays, those guys don’t shy away from making plays.”
(On getting a second game against an opponent)“With us playing those guys this year already I think that’s kind of somewhat of a good thing for us. Being a divisional game is something that’s always challenging. When we come in and prepare, one of the first things that we look at is the film that we already played earlier this year and see what can we get from that and we go from different films as well. This past week was nothing short of injuries in the NFL, but we know as day-to-day the type of player, the type of caliber player [cornerback] Darrelle Revis is, he could rightfully be not even practicing this whole week and I will still see 24 on the other side of the ball.”
(On how he handles people’s opinions on him)“To a degree, you just got to treat it like a grain of salt. No disrespect to any fans or any person with an opinion, because that’s exactly what it is, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. For me, my main focus right now is trying to help my team to become 9-3 and if we do that we’ll be great. A lot of pressure has been taken off so many players with buying in to the ‘we’ rather than the ‘me.’ With that mentality, we’ve been great.”
(On if having a great defense allows the offense to play more confidently)“Well it goes hand in hand, I would hope I would play with all the confidence in my defense and I think everyone’s been playing that way. We’ve had a lot of success and a lot of belief in each other as well as the defense has belief in the offense putting up points. It’s been kind of mix and match games with who steps up to the plate and for us, we’re all ready to roll as far as what it takes to win. Sometimes the defense is going to have lights out games, sometimes the offense is going to have a lights out game and put up a lot of points. At the end of the day, the main and most important fact or statistic is the win and loss column. [If] we get a win, that’s what it’s all about.”
(On how he feels he has matured and improved since his rookie season)“When it comes to maturity I hear it all the time with people wanting to point and pinpoint something that this season has been different about. The only really thing that’s been different is that we’re winning. Obviously, over time, a player, a person, a human being will change their ways or upgrade to a degree and I think that’s what I’ve done. Coming in and having a different approach and it’s been showing come game day. But as far as me changing as a whole player, person nothing’s really changed. I still have the same aggressive mentality, but also take what the defense gives me. It’s kind of been sharpened a little bit with great coaching and a lot of assistance with players, but nothing more than that.”
(On this potentially being a special team)“It really hasn’t been a thought at all, being that we haven’t really clinched anything. The only thing we can continue do is to have the mentality that we’ve had and that’s played the most important game and that’s the next game. And our next game right now versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and we are ready to accept the challenge on December 1.”
(On dietary changes)“It’s just been something that I was challenging my discipline. Every offseason I have a different tactic going over with my trainer, going over with loved ones and just people I feel have my best interest. Since March I’ve given up meat, chicken and just been sticking to fish. Officially since then I’ve been a pescetarian. I like the way it made me feel as far as eating, me being alert, me having a lot of energy, and me not feeling sluggish. Whether I’m working out, whether I’m going on my everyday life it’s just been great. How long do I plan on doing it? I don’t know, I can’t tell you. Is this something that I will continue to do? I don’t know, I can’t tell you. It’s very challenging I can tell you when I go around the guys or I go around a particular place and they have chicken wings, they have a prime rib, they have steak and it’s just something for me to pinch myself and challenge myself that if I cannot eat meat, something that’s so important or that has been so close to me and my culture for so long I could do a lot of things. I can put my mind to a lot of different things as well.”
(On what he’s eating for Thanksgiving)“You know you’ll have to call Jackie Newton and Haddie Newton for that, I’m pretty sure they’ll have a smorgasbord of food that will satisfy me in a lot of ways.”
(On if he’s still invested in the Auburn-Alabama rivalry)“That’s everything. The Iron Bowl is the best college football rivalry in all of sports. The only reason why the Iron Bowl doesn’t get that label from unanimous decision or from 100 percent across the nation is due to the fact that this may be the only year when both of them are really battling for a spot in the SEC Championship. Usually it’s one team and it’s another team that’s not relevant and one team that’s very relevant and one team trying to stop the other from making the big splash. The last time I checked and this is on the record all the national championships in the last four years came out of the state of Alabama. It’s obviously a big game for a lot of reasons and what other game would you rather be watching than the Iron Bowl?”
(On voting for the Heisman)“Not really, I’m just going – I always hold mine as a personal statistic as who I vote for or if I even do vote or when I do vote. It’s going to be rather interesting and trust and believe that my eyes will be open to see what every Heisman person does this week. I see one of them has already rushed for 300 yards and he put up unbelievable statistics and it’s just been great to see.”
(On if Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s off the field situation has any effect on his vote)“I’d rather not say. I don’t want to be in that type of situation. From my eyes it’s all about how important your play is or impacts your team. If he’s on the field, he’s as equal to be voted against or voted with just off the mere fact what’s going on, on the field. Other things outside of the field no one knows. They’re going to speculate and for me I’m just trying to see great football come Saturday with [Texas] A&M, Florida State, even with the Iron Bowl, I’m going to be excited to watch.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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