QB Cam Newton says play calling is fine, Panthers will look to target Bills wounded secondary

Cam Newton isn't panicking after one bad week.

Newton said Wednesday he doesn't have an issue with new offensive coordinator Mike Shula's play calling, even after being limited to a career-low 125 yards passing in the NFL season opener.

Newton believes the Panthers will make adjustments Sunday at Buffalo, saying the team "absolutely" plans to target the Bills injury-plagued secondary and take a few more shots downfield in the passing game.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera on Monday called Carolina's offensive approach too conservative in the team's 12-7 loss to Seattle.

Newton said it's not his job to question the play calls, saying "whether it's 50 shot plays downfield, 50 slants or 50 running plays, my job is set on each and every play. I want to be part of the solution rather than the problem."

Tight end Greg Olsen said it would be a mistake to read too much into Carolina's 12-7 loss Sunday.

"Our offense has been built on a vertical passing game with big, chunk plays being a big part of that the last two years," Olsen said. "I don't think that's going to change."

Newton has one of the strongest arms in the league and this could be a week to play to that strength.

Buffalo's defensive secondary lacked experienced depth before the season began and the Bills depth only got thinner following injuries to key players.

They're playing without top cornerback, Stephon Gilmore, who is expected to miss another two weeks with a broken left hand, and on Sunday lost No. 3 cornerback Ron Brooks to a broken foot. There's still uncertainty as to when Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd will be ready to play.

Last week New England's Tom Brady completed 29 of 52 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns in a 23-21 win over the Bills.

Newton said the Buffalo secondary "still has talented guys you can't overlook" but that his biggest concern is Buffalo's defensive line led by Mario Williams.

Newton only attempted three passes of more than 10 yards downfield against Seattle.

Newton said after watching the game film he could have taken a few more chances going deep but that for the most part he felt good that he made the right decisions.

"You always go back and say I could have done this better or that better, but as a whole I felt the decisions that I made in critical situations were good," Newton said.

Panthers receiver Steve Smith continued to throw his support behind Shula saying his play calling was balanced.

He pointed out that last year the Panthers averaged 37 pass plays and 19 runs per game. By contrast, the Panthers called 28 pass plays and 24 runs on Sunday.

"Talking to their (Seattle) defensive players after the game they gave us compliments on our different route combinations," Smith said. "We didn't get the win but when you are getting feedback from your opponents saying we were messing them up, so I'm not really sure how much more you can take away from that."

NOTES: Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander says he was fined $15,750 for punching a Seahawks offensive lineman on Sunday resulting in a disqualification. He said he's learned his lesson about allowing another player to get into his head. ... Rivera said it will be at least another week before running back Kenjon Barner (foot) can get on the field. ... Along with Barner, tight end Ben Hartsock (foot) and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (thigh) did not practice Wednesday.


AP NFL website www.pro32.ap.org


Follow Steve Reed on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SteveReedAP