- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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Insider trading: Look no further than Thomas Davis as yet another reason the Panthers were willing to trade Jon Beason to the Giants. Davis was moved from weakside to strongside linebacker during training camp to get Beason, coming off knee surgery, back on the field. But after two games it became apparent that Beason had lost a step at weakside, and that Carolina was better when Davis could move between weakside and strongside. That was most evident on Sunday when Davis had the first two-sack game of his career to go along with a team-high nine tackles. One of the sacks came at weakside and the other in the nickel package. It was the third sack in the past three games. The other came when Carolina first sat Beason against the New York Giants. He should have had another last week at Arizona.
Deeper into Newton's day: We already knew that Newton missed only six passes for the second-highest completion percentage (76.9) of his career. But if you look at passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage he was an amazing 18-for-21 (85.7 percent), the highest completion percentage of his career on such attempts. According to ESPN Stats & Information, only six quarterbacks had completed a higher percentage of those throws in a game this season heading into Week 6. Newton's percentage on those throws in the first four games was 63.2 percent. He had one touchdown and two interceptions compared to two touchdowns and no interceptions on Sunday.
Gambling man: Ron Rivera, who had gambled on fourth down less than every coach in the NFL except Denver's John Fox since 2011 after Week 2, has been successful on three of five attempts in the past three games. That ties for the 15th most in the NFL for the season. Carolina's 60 percent fourth-down percentage rate ranks tied for sixth in the league. In other words, expect the Panthers to continue to take chances inside the opponents 35-yard line.
1-2-3-4 punch: I asked Ron Rivera on Sunday if he hadn't put guard Amini Silatolu (ACL) on injured reserve because he was waiting to use that roster spot on running back Jonathan Stewart, available to come off the PUP list on Monday. "We'll see," he said. The addition of Stewart would give the Panthers one of the best running attacks in the league. They already are solid as evidenced again on Sunday when DeAngelo Williams had 64 yards on 17 carries, Mike Tolbert 27 yards on eight carries and quarterback Cam Newton 30 yards on nine carries. With Stewart they may have to change the nickname "Double Trouble" -- Williams and Stewart -- to "Quadruple Trouble."
Garbage time: Maybe Steve Smith's comments aimed at umpire Dan Ferrell paid off. Remember? Smith called Ferrell "garbage" and the "sorriest" official he'd ever met for allowing the Arizona defensive backs to be so aggressive with him last week. On Carolina's first drive against Minnesota, cornerback Chris Cook was called for holding Smith on third down to keep the drive alive. Asked if his comments may have helped, Smith smiled and said, "All I know is he was grabbing me -- again. I had a good catch on a slant. That's all I can say." Smith still hasn't heard from the NFL on a possible fine, and doesn't expect to at this point.