It’s the Panthers home opener. The defending Super Bowl champs are coming to town. Those champs looked downright devastating on offense in Week 1.
All of those would usually be nice story lines. But this week, they’re sidebars to the story.
After his record-setting debut, some in Charlotte are already envisioning Cam Newton’s face on a Hall of Fame bust. And while one ultra-impressive start may not yet equal a future in Canton, Newton went a long way in proving he’s NFL ready.
As that rookie walked to his locker where two dozen media members waited Wednesday, he quipped, "A lot of people gathering around. Where I come from, that’s not a good thing."
Not only has Newton won over teammates and fans, but lines like that have also helped him win over many in the media.
Of course, in the NFL, teammates, fans and the media can turn quickly. Right now, Newton’s honeymoon period is at a peak, thanks to his 422 yard poised performance against Arizona.
"I don’t go into each game trying to top anything," Newton said. "I just go into each game just being coachable...and then who knows what will happen after that."
But is Newton really a bigger story than the other quarterback we’ll see at Bank of America Stadium Sunday? Newton’s made one start. The other guy just won a Super Bowl.
Davis wasn’t being disrespectful. He gets it. Rodgers can magically turn the Packers into a force you’d more likely see on Madden ’12 than on a real life field.
But Newton put up video game-like numbers himself this past Sunday and now much of the football world eagerly anticipates the sequel.
After watching the original, Packers head coach Mike McCarty saw flashes of two current NFL quarterbacks. He compared Newton’s ability to stand and deliver in the pocket to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. McCarthy then likened Newton’s running skills to that of former Titans and current Eagles quarterback Vince Young.
"He played fast for a young man playing his first game," McCarthy said. "He's big, athletic, talented. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
Newton surpassed even the highest expectations of many during his first NFL test. Now comes his debut in front of the hometown fans. Those early moments Sunday will be special. A city and its star can’t wait.
"I don’t get nervous," Newton said. "I get anxious."