Cam Newton, the 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year, No. 1 overall pick and star quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, has stated to Yahoo! that he was a poor teammate in his first season.
"I was very immature," Newton said."I'll be the first one to tell you, the pouting and the moping, I kind of overdid it. I know that. I was a bad teammate. I shut off to some people who gave unbelievable effort. ... That's where I have to mature.
Others noticed, especially after a 24-21 loss to Minnesota in Week 8.
"Cam was angry because he thought he could and should make every play," said wide receiver Steve Smith.
"He has to realize you can't do it all yourself. It's like when someone drops a touchdown pass at the end of a close game. You can say that play cost the team a chance to win the game, but it didn't cause the team to lose. As you get older in this game, you see how everybody has to do their job and how there are so many plays in a game that affect the outcome. As a competitor, you want the ball in your hands at the end to make the play, but you can't do it all in football. You have to give other people a chance to make a play for you, to help you out."
But now, Smith expects to grow alongside the massive QB as they look for glory in the NFC, hoping to get to the Super Bowl. The wideout plans on challenging his quarterback, hoping to help him improve in year to.
"Cam and I challenge each other in a good way," said Smith, 33. "He came out to practice one time in training camp and said, 'Man, I'm tired.' I looked at him and said, 'How can you be tired, you been here like 15 minutes.' He took that the right way and really went hard in practice.
"A little later, he threw a deep one to me and it went over me. I came back to the huddle and he said, 'The old Steve Smith would have caught that.' After that, I went just a little harder on every route. I wasn't going to let him overthrow me again. That's good. That's bringing the best out of both of us."