Panthers' Cam Newton knows the path Russell Wilson is on
In the Panthers, the Seahawks face a team that also placed its hopes on a rookie quarterback.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle @ Carolina,
1:05 p.m., Ch. 13
RENTON — The Seahawks didn't just commit to a player when coach Pete Carroll named Russell Wilson the starting quarterback.
They committed to a process that will include the peaks and valleys that come with someone learning on the job. Just ask Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who went with Cam Newton when he was a rookie a year ago.
"A lot of highs and a lot of lows, that's for doggone sure," Rivera said.
There is no formula for this process, no manual that spells out the care of a rookie quarterback. There's a lot of hope involved, some patience required, and resilience is an absolute must.
"In this league, you're going to have success, you're going to have downfalls," Newton said. "But on those downfalls, you have to treat it like a speed bump and not a roadblock."
Carolina committed itself to ride that roller coaster last year when it drafted Newton No. 1 overall. The Panthers were starting over with a new coach in Rivera, and in turning over the offense to Newton, the team essentially said it was going to go as far as the quarterback could take it.
He passed for more than 4,000 yards last season, rushed for 14 touchdowns, and one-quarter of the way through his second season, he's on pace to pretty much match his Rookie of the Year numbers.
The Panthers are 7-13 with Newton as the starter, which is progress considering the team won two games the year before he arrived.
In Carolina, the quarterback was the starting point of a rebuild. In Seattle, it is more of a finishing touch. The Seahawks are not rebuilding; they are rebuilt with a steel-toed defense and the league's leading rusher in Marshawn Lynch.
That reality has simultaneously lessened the pressure on Wilson in terms of his production and increased the public scrutiny on his performance.
Wilson doesn't need to put up numbers like Newton in order for the Seahawks to win. Seattle attempted a league-low 100 passes in the first four games, as the team tries to lessen the load on its quarterback by playing to its strength on the ground, playing stout defense and trying to hold the edge in special teams.
These Seahawks look ready to contend right now if they get even average play at quarterback, which has added some urgency to the appraisals of Wilson's performance.
"I think there's enormous pressure on our quarterback, yeah," Carroll said. "I really think there is. I think he's a great kid to handle it."
Matt Flynn is on hand as a viable alternative, and the fact that most expected him to become the starter after signing as a free agent from Green Bay has only complicated the discussion and dissection of Wilson's play.
That's the kind of scrutiny that comes with being one of 32 players starting at quarterback for an NFL team.
"That's something that you just sign up for," Newton said. "You get all the great recognition when your team is winning, and you get all the recognition when your team is losing, also. You just have to have thick skin and roll with the punches."
• Cornerback Marcus Trufant sat out Wednesday's practice with a sore back.
"We'll see how that goes and progresses during the week," Carroll said.
Trufant missed games in 2009 and 2011 because of a back injury.
• G John Moffitt has been ruled out for Sunday's game at Carolina because of a knee injury. He did not play last week in St. Louis, either.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org