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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cam Newton likes when the Panthers go to a no-huddle offense and step up the tempo.
"It's been our edge," the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback said Wednesday.
The first-place Panthers (3-2) have utilized the no-huddle offense for at least one play on seven drives this season with six of those resulting in touchdowns, according to STATS.
Down 21-7 on Sunday to the Bears, the Panthers turned to the no-huddle offense looking for a spark — and it worked.
Newton led the Panthers to touchdowns on back-to-back possessions. He completed 8 of 11 passes for 124 yards and a score, and the Panthers battled back to beat Chicago, 31-24.
But coach Ron Rivera said that while Newton looks comfortable operating without a huddle, he doesn't see the Panthers using it on a full-time basis but rather as "a change of pace."
"I think it helps the team," Rivera said. "We've shown that we do handle the no huddle nicely."
Rivera thinks using it all of time would be too much. He prefers to be control the ball and allow his defense a chance to rest between possessions on the field rather than get in a track meet.
That probably won't change Sunday when Carolina travels to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals (3-1).
The Panthers have used the no-huddle offense sparingly since Newton came into the league as the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.
He's only attempted 110 passes working out of the no-huddle offense with one touchdown pass and one interception for a QB rating of 78.7, about 10 points below his average when working out of a huddle.
But more NFL quarterbacks are finding success this year working out of a no-huddle set.
Newton is one of eight quarterbacks with a QB rating of 98.7 or better in the league running the no-huddle offense.
"Often times the defense dictates to the offense, meaning when you come to the line and you see a certain look you have the check off" and audible, Newton said. "Whereas if you're in the no huddle and playing fast, the defense has to react to the offense. I feel as if we can get in that situation more times than not, success is bound to happen."
Newton had plenty of experience running the no-huddle offense in college.
In 2010, Newton won the Heisman Trophy and led Auburn to the BCS National Championship working almost exclusively without a huddle in an up-tempo style offense.
"They never huddled," Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. "He never called a play at the line of scrimmage. I don't know if he ever had a snap count. They had all those signs up (on the sideline). He just looked over and the rest of the team looked over, got the signal, then he lifted his leg and got the ball."
Said Newton: "I am familiar with a few no huddle situations or philosophies in my resume, and it has done me great."
Shula said the no-huddle seems to fit Newton's natural instinctive skills as a quarterback and allows him to react to what's going on.
"When things seem to be going 100 miles an hour, they slow down even better for him," Shula said. "Sometimes, that's a really good thing. ... Sometimes it helps make the defense react quicker than they want to."
Center Ryan Kalil said Newton "takes over" when running the no-huddle offense.
"He takes it over," Kalil said after Sunday's game. "He does a good job in recognizing the defense and he does a good job in keeping it going. I thought obviously we were able to get into more of a rhythm."
Newton said he likes how it can change the tempo of the game.
Shula agrees with Rivera, saying it wouldn't be a good idea for the Panthers to use the no-huddle offense for an entire game.
But he left little doubt the Panthers won't hesitate to use it in the future if the offense begins to struggle, saying that the team is "adding to the inventory" of plays they already have installed in the no-huddle offense.
"You have to have a good mix," Shula said. "I don't think you want to go to it the whole game. (But) if we weren't good at it, we probably wouldn't be doing it at all."
NOTES: Ten players sat out practice Wednesday, including tight end Greg Olsen, running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and left tackle Byron Bell.
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