Call It: Cam Newton sophomore slump?

May, 21, 2012
5/21/12
2:58
PM ET
When Cam Newton wasn't selected to be on the cover of "Madden 13," there seemed to be a huge sigh of relief from fans of the Carolina Panthers.

One potential crisis was avoided, but it seems like Carolina fans now are creating another. A lot of them seem to be worried about Newton following his offensive rookie of the year season with a “sophomore slump."

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Will Cam Newton suffer a sophomore slump?

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    31%
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    69%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,945)

I have a tough time buying into that one. First off, Newton is incredibly talented. Second, he’ll have a full offseason with his coaches and the playbook, a luxury he didn’t have during last year’s lockout.

But let’s turn to someone who knows Newton a lot better than most. That’s Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who was asked in this interview about the possibility of Newton taking a step backward.

“I will say this about a sophomore slump: If there’s anybody that’s going work through it, he’s going to work through it,’’ Rivera said. “When the season was over, one of the things he said was he wanted to find a way to make sure he didn’t have one. I think the less we talk about it, the less we get caught up in it, the better. It’s like the Madden curse; he really wanted to be the cover. I think that’s the thing. Instead of running from it, saying, 'Oh, I hope it doesn’t happen -- it’s not going to happen.' I’m not going to let it happen. I think that’s his approach to the sophomore slump.’’

I think that’s an excellent approach. But Rivera was quick to point out that Newton can use some help from his teammates.

“I also think the guys around him have to continue to step up,’’ Rivera said. “Our running backs have to continue to go. I think the addition of [Mike] Tolbert gives us something extra because it’s now a fullback that’s a multitalented and versatile guy. Our tight end situation with Greg Olsen is solid. We have [Gary] Barnidge and Ben [Hartsock] sitting there -- guys that give us a different kind of look. And the continued development of our receiving corps. The young guys have got to step up, whether it’s David Gettis getting back to 100 percent, whether it’s Kealoha [Pilares] taking the next step, whether it’s Armanti [Edwards] stepping up, Darvin Adams stepping up, Joe Adams becoming a part of that.’’

Like I said, I only see Newton continuing to progress. But I’m not a big believer in curses, slumps or jinxes. But I could be wrong.

Let’s hear what you think. Cast your ballot in our accompanying SportsNation poll and use the comments section below to share your thoughts on if Newton will have a sophomore slump.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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