Cam Newton will be Cam Newton in 2018. Look no further than the Panthers QB's third-down dive.
Three thoughts off Carolina’s 25-14 victory against New England in Week 3 of the preseason.
1. I am now convinced Cam Newton will play the way Cam Newton has always played for the rest of his career. Friday night on third-and-9 from the Panthers 38, Newton scrambled for 11 yards, leaped head first for the first down, broke his fall with his neck and then went to the injury tent for nearly 5 minutes before returning. Newton only knows one speed, and that’s admirable in the regular season but obviously foolish in August. Newton is 29 and has his most capable offensive arsenal around him since he came to Carolina. But recall last year when the Panthers told everyone (this writer included) that Newton would run less in 2017, just to see him rush for a career-high 754 yards on 139 carries. I can’t imagine he gets near those totals in 2018 with Christian McCaffrey being worked more into the fold, but the third-down dive shows he’s not going to stop being himself.
2. If healthy, Luke Kuechly will lead the league in tackles again in 2018. Kuechly was a monster in the red zone, where he almost single-handedly kept the Patriots out of the end zone. On first-and-goal from the 4, Kuechly tackled Jeremy Hill for no gain. He stopped Brandon Bolden short on second down. And he scared James Develin into dropping a third-down pass short of the goal line to force a Pats field goal in the second quarter. Before Kuechly suffered concussions in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons, he was in the top-five in tackles in the league for his first three seasons. He led the NFL in 2012 and 2014, and he finished fourth in 2013.
3. The most obvious thing to come from the exhibition is the Patriots don’t have enough at wide receiver. Yes, we say this almost every year. But Bill Belichick has been slashing the position since the start of the month. First, it was Jordan Matthews. Then Malcolm Mitchell. Earlier in the week, Kenny Britt got his walking papers. Brady barely broke the 100-yard mark in his three first-half series with 16 yards being the longest reception. Rob Gronkowski, Phillip Dorsett and Julian Edelman will get the most targets in 2018, but it’s hard to find anyone behind them (other than Chris Hogan) that will step up, and there’s certainly no size on the outside.