Newton: Slow start unacceptable


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Trailing the Kansas City Chiefs 3-0 late in the first quarter, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin wide open down the left sideline.

He overthrew him.

That play aside, Newton's first preseason game after undergoing left ankle surgery in March had to be deemed a success.

The ankle looked strong as Newton was pressured to scramble three times and sacked twice. He engineered two second-quarter touchdowns drives, completing three of his final four pass attempts for 60 yards after starting 1-of-5 for 5 yards.

But for Newton, it was the ragged start and the missed pass to the 6-foot-5 Benjamin that stood out.

"We had a slow start, which is unacceptable,'' Newton said at the half with Carolina leading 14-6. "We have to stay on schedule and not waste opportunities like the shot to Benji [Benjamin]. Kansas City is a good football team and we didn't match their intensity early, but it was good to put a few drives together and score some points."

The Panthers have been cautious with Newton in his rehabilitation. He was held out of the preseason opener against Buffalo. Coach Ron Rivera said he would pull the former Heisman Trophy winner after the first quarter if he was under a heavy pass rush.

Despite pressure which forced Newton to spin out of trouble a couple of times and throw the ball away another, Rivera stuck with him.

"It felt good to get out there and get some time in the huddle,'' Newton said. "We have to go back to work and get better.''

But this was a good start.