NFL Wire News

Rivera downplays Panthers’ camp fight

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Tempers flared at the Carolina Panthers’ training camp Monday when quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Josh Norman ended up in a fight.

The surprising incident occurred when Norman intercepted Newton two plays into a team drill.

After the pick, coaches yelled at Norman to continue running toward the end zone. Newton gave chase, and when Norman made it to the end zone, they exchanged words and shoves.

Seconds later, they were on the turf until they were separated by teammates.

“You know, it’s really that time of year,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “Guys get into training camp and usually it’s around day nine or 10, and that’s really what happened. You don’t expect it to be your quarterback.

“You look for the positive out of it. Hey, (Newton) stood up for himself, (Norman) stood up for himself, and I know it’s the quarterback, but we treat everybody the same.

“That’s the way I’m gonna look at it. That’s my spin, and I hope you guys put it that way.”

As positive as Rivera would like to be, it is never a good thing to see the quarterback on the bottom of a pile. It is unnecessary when it happens during a scuffle with a teammate.

Newton and Norman are two of the loudest talkers on the team, and they have been yapping back and forth since camp opened last week. Most of that was playful.

What happened Monday wasn’t. Ultimately, though, it all likely will boil over.

“It’s just a little training camp tiff,” center Ryan Kalil said. “Those are the guys you want on your team who won’t back down, but at the same time, we gotta keep harping composure, and keep composure.

“Obviously, if it happens in practice, it’s OK as long as nobody gets hurt. We can’t have that in a game situation, and that’s something we gotta do a better job of and that’s hurt us before in the past, especially in playoff football, and we gotta make sure we do a good job of that.”

–Shortly after former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. announced his retirement plans Monday, an ex-teammate raved about the current Baltimore Raven.

“Steve is definitely an all-time great Panther, and he’s one of my good buddies,” Kalil said.

“I definitely think Steve’s in (the Hall of Fame) conversation. I don’t know anything about stats and all that stuff, but I know he was always a guy I was excited was in the huddle with me and was excited to have him as a teammate.”

While having a bust in Canton is a toss-up, there shouldn’t be much doubt about Smith’s status in Carolina. During his 13 seasons with the Panthers, he broke more than 30 career, single-season and single-game franchise records on offense and special teams.

Smith and many with the organization hope he officially will retire as a Panther, and as long as he continues to avoid burning too many bridges, that remains a distinct possibility.


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