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Panthers’ Cam Newton Believes That Motivation Is Key To Playing Out Rest Of The Season

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By Ted Fleming

It’s a common refrain for teams with losing records, but in the Panthers’ case, they actually are a better team than what the record indicates. With only four games left before the golf course beckons, there is still a lot to accomplish down the stretch for the players and coaching staff because most of their jobs are on the line.

Possibly buoyed by their growing number of close losses, seven by less than a touchdown, there isn’t much doubt that a few breaks along the way might have seen their current 3-9 mark be closer to .500 or possibly better. Instead they are closer to a top 5 or ten draft pick than the postseason.

As Cam Newton put it, “We are a way better team than what it is [but] the old saying is perception is reality. Let’s not be jaded by the fact that we still have a lot of guys that’s on this team that has won in the past and are capable of winning.” Newton’s biggest critique of himself is his lack of consistency. “I feel like a broken record, always repeating myself with things that I can work on,” he said after practice on Wednesday.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 27: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers acknowledges the crowd before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Credit, Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

From Newton’s perspective, he doesn’t believe those early close losses were a harbinger of things to come. There were always opportunities but as circumstances would have it, a missed scoring opportunity late in the game that would have possibly put it away left just the opening other teams needed to flip the score against the Panthers.

The loss in Kansas City stung because the Chiefs were ripe for the taking even before the tragic events that took place a day before, but it was not to be as a wave of emotion buried the Panthers despite a solid game from their quarterback.

“Last week we did have a lot of success, but still we had more opportunities where we felt like we could have put points up on the board,” said Newton. “We can’t put our defense in that kind of situation. We knew what kind of game it was going into it.”

So with four games remaining, two against division rivals but only one with a winning record – the Falcons – how do the Panthers approach the final quarter of the season? Motivation.

“We know what is going on with this franchise and we know [head coach Ron Rivera] is in search of the formula to win,” he said. “So with people knowing that, you better start putting something successful on film or the hourglass will be cut short for a lot of people. Nothing’s safe, not even for myself. We’re going to have to find something to motivate us to keep us going. We still have a chance to surpass the wins that we had last year, that’s something we have to look for, something as small as that to keep us going.”

The way 2012 has gone thus far, it might be easier said than done.

PRACTICE NOTES: Linebacker James Anderson was poked in the eye early in the loss to the Chiefs and didn’t return to play until the second half, but of more concern is his back. “It stiffened up on him so hopefully we’ll get it loosened up,” said Rivera. “[Jason Phillips] played for him in his stead and did a nice job and we feel pretty confident with [him] if we have to play him.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Panthers news, see CBS Sports Charlotte.

Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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