Saturday, 08 October 2011 14:23
New Orleans Saints, Brees Meet Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers In QB Test
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 It's time the Saints meet Cam Newton.

That will happen on Sunday when the Saints oppose the Panthers at noon at Charlotte in their first NFC South game of the season.

"The big reason we drafted Newton No. 1 is we felt we had to have a franchise quarterback to compete in this division” said new Panthers coach Ron Rivera. The three other quarterbacks in our division are all tremendous football players.

"Drew Bree's if a franchise quarterback. They have one in Atlanta that's developing, That guy is Josh Freeman is in Tampa Bay.

Newton's play as a rookie has made a difference in the Panthers offense. Not only are they scoring virtually double the points they did last year but the Panthers rank third in the NFL behind the Patriots and the Saints in total offense.

"Newton is a very good athlete playing quarterback. "said Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. “We already have one  in our division in Josh Freeman. There are a lot of similarities with these guys in their ability to extend plays because they're big men. Even when you get shots at them in the pocket or shot outside the pocket they're able to bowl you over or able to shrug you off."

Will the Saints defense take advantage of the fact Newton is an inexperienced quarterback?

"Yes, said Williams."But they've done a good job wise with him as a coaching staff. They limit those opportunities for you. They do a real good job at what they ask him to do. They have an experienced offensive line and an experienced coaching staff.  Our defense is impressed with what we've seen on film on what they've been able to do."

How is the Saints No. 1 draft choice Cam Jordan doing?

"He's done real well in all phases of the game and each week it's been fun to see him grasp more and more," said Williams. "He played well last week. We gave him one of our weekly awards, which is called an attaboy."

Jo-Lonn Dunbar has been filling for injured Jonathan Vilma at middle linebacker and Williams said he has played very well.

"As I've said, football players come in all sizes, shapes, fashions, forms. He can play all three linebacker positions and is a very good decision maker. We all have warts and limitations through genetics, but he's sharp, instinctive, tough. He helps us out a lot. He played well last week."

The Panthers find themselves playing uphill in their division;. Both the Saints and the Buccaneers are 3-1; the Falcons have shown some unexpected vulnerability at 2-2. The Panthers are l-3

Brees has completed 69 per cent of his passes and has thrown for 10 touchdowns. Last week against Jacksonville, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram rushed for a combined 177 yards and coach Sean Payton will be looking for a similar figure in this game.

Newton has adjusted very well to the NFL and is quick with a quote. The past week a reporter as the rookie if he was surprised with how well he has made the transition from Auburn to an NFL quarterback. If you write a good article, do you surprise yourself? "asked Newton?

Prediction: Lay the 6/12 points. Final: Saints 30, Panthers 17.

Other NFL picks: Colts -2 `1/2 over Chiefs; Vikings 2 1/2 over Cardinals; Eagles - 2 1/2 over Bills; Raiders +6 over Texans; Jaguars -2 1/2 over Bengals;  Steelers  -3 1/2 over Titans;  Giants -9 1/2 over Seahawks (best bet); Bucs +2 1/2 over 49ers; Jets +9 over Patriots; Packers -6 over Falcons; and Lions -5 1/2 over Bears. Last week: 7-4.

Panthers cornerback Captain Munncslyn on Darren Sproles:"I don't want to say he's better than Reggie Bush, but in the Saints offense he looks a whole lot better than Bush. He's quick, fast and gets the ball in space and makes you look a fool."...Saints TE Jeremy Shockey has passed his concussion test and will play against his former team...

RIP: Al Davis,owner of the Raiders and Hall of Famer, died Saturday at him home is Oakland. Davis, 82, was one of the most important figures in NFL history.

Trivia time: Panther coach Ron Rivera is the third Latino head coach in the NFL. Can you name the other two? The Saints' Jimmy Graham leads NFL tight ends in receiving yards with 367 yards on 24 receptions, averaging 15.3 yards per catch and three touchdowns. "Jeremy Shockey had a lot to do with Jimmy's development," said Sean Payton "When were able to bring in a young TE and kind of put him behind Jeremy and let him see Jeremy do some things that he's done for so many years,  that was instrumental for Jimmy. Payton said releasing Shockey didn't come easily.....Trivia answer: Tom Flores (Raiders) and Tom Fears (Saints)...

(photo above) Darren Sharper


by Ed Staton

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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