- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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DAVIE, Fla. -- It is well documented that the Miami Dolphins have issues off the field. The NFL is investigating the Dolphins at their practice facility this week in relation to the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal.
But Miami has another big problem on the field: Cam Newton.
The Carolina Panthers quarterback is one of the hottest players in the league. Newton also is leading a hot Carolina team into Miami on a six-game winning streak.
Newton is coming off a strong performance in a win over the New England Patriots on “Monday Night Football.” He is opening a lot of eyes around the NFL with his improved play in his third season.
“It really looks like he’s making good decisions,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said after Tuesday's practice. “He’s taking very good care of the football. He’s not forcing it into coverage’s where there are more defenders then there are receivers. As you know he can make all the throws, he’s got a very strong arm. He plays well with his feet, he extends plays as New England found out on third down a couple times last night.”
The Panthers have a top-10 rushing attack, in part due to Newton’s contributions from the quarterback position. Newton has rushed for 328 yards and averages 4.7 yards per carry.
Newton’s dual threat was on full display Monday. He led the Panthers in rushing with 62 yards in addition to his three touchdown passes.
“He’s an awesome, awesome player,” Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick said. “Obviously, we have a lot of respect for him.”
Miami’s defense has been up and down this year. Statistically, they haven’t been dominant at any one aspect. But the Dolphins have been able to keep the scoring down most weeks in order to stay competitive.
The Dolphins’ defensive discipline and pass rush must be solid against the Panthers. Newton has done some of his best work on broken plays.
“He’s got the feet to run away from defensive lineman and he can make a move on the next level defenders,” Philbin said. “He’s tough, I think it forces everybody to be disciplined. Then they have the option component, you add the option component to that, now you really have to play assignment sound football.”
The Dolphins (5-5) need to get this win to keep an inside track on the final wild-card spot in the AFC. They share the same record with the New York Jets (5-5) but trail their division rival due to a tiebreaker.