The Carolina Panthers are hoping the bye week has helped wipe the slate clean after their disappointing 1-4 start and they'll come back on Sunday re-energized. Quarterback Cam Newton, for one, said he feels refreshed.
Last year's AP Offensive Rookie of the Year spent the bye weekend visiting a haunted house, go-kart racing, watching movies, playing video games and doing plenty of "self-evaluation."
He said that after talking with his father, Cecil Newton, he also has a deeper appreciation for his job.
"God gives only a few people opportunities like this and it's easy for people to take it for granted," Newton said Wednesday. "It gave me time to reflect and appreciate this lovely, wonderful game that I play."
He also has a greater idea of what's expected of a leader.
"One thing he said was it's easy for a leader to stand out when you're 4-1," Newton said, according to the Charlotte Observer. "But it takes a courageous leader to stand up and still lead the troops to victory when you're 1-4."
Newton said after the talk with his father that he realizes now that he got away from "the small things, preparing for each and every game, valuing each and every possession."
"And at the end of the day, playmakers are going to have to make plays. When that play allows for something to happen, it's not a time for somebody to clutch up and go in a shell. It's time for the flower to grow," he told the newspaper.
Newton said "there's a lot of differences" between last year's offense and this year's, including his own play.
Newton's quarterback rating ranks 23rd in the league and there are 28 QBs who've thrown more touchdown passes than he has at this point of the season. Newton has just four touchdown passes -- with five interceptions -- and three rushing scores, a season after throwing for 21 touchdowns and running for 14 more. He is ranked 26th in ESPN's quarterback rankings with a Total QBR of 42.4.
But he said dwelling on the past does no good.
"It's time for us to start taking ownership and taking pride in this game," Newton said. "We know everything we want to achieve is still out there for us to achieve."
The Panthers begins anew Sunday against the Cowboys. Dallas' top defender said Wednesday that Newton provides a unique challenge.
"He's a whole different breed," Cowboys star defensive end DeMarcus Ware said. "He's a running back, a guy that can play quarterback. The thing is, he doesn't make a lot of decisions. They're one of the least penalized teams in the league, so they're fundamentally sound and they run the ball well. I don't know the ratings, but they've got three running backs in (Jonathan) Stewart, (DeAngelo) Williams and then you got Cam Newton. It's a three-headed (monster). They'll stick all three of them in there."
Information from ESPNDallas.com's Todd Archer and The Associated Press was used in this report.