Cam Newton Sucks But He Can Still Run 36 (That's a Play)

A bargain (in college)
A bargain (in college)

Okay, maybe the headline was a little harsh. Does Cam Newton suck? No. But does he look a little erratic throwing the ball right now? Yes. Very.

It doesn't matter, it's Cam Newton's world in Carolina right now. He's going to be the starter and the face of the franchise (just as long as he doesn't acquire any of those pesky tattoos, piercings, dreadlocks or any of those other rapscallion accoutrements that the kids get these days).

But last night's game against the Bengals was a stark reminder of how far Newton has to go, and perhaps a brief reminder of how inexact a science the draft can be.

For the third straight preseason game, Newton struggled with accuracy issues, completing just 6 of 19 passes for 75 yards. Throwing the ball, he still looked awkward and, at times, confused, which sadly constitutes a major upgrade over Jimmy Clausen (and makes him Dan Marino compared to third stringer Derek Anderson).

Okay, so what did Cam Newton do well? Well, the one thing he could always count on at Auburn. When it all broke down at Auburn, he could take off and run. Newton showed off impressive running ability, picking up 49 yards on four carries, including a 16-yard touchdown.

So play 36, which Newton introduced the world to in Jon Gruden's QB Camp, and which loosely translated is "Cam runs around and over any defender in his way," apparently still works in small doses on the pro level.

Newton has completed just 40.4 percent of his passes through three weeks of the preseason, and his passer rating is 57.8, but in the "if you can't say something nice about somebody, don't say anything at all," he hasn't thrown an interception yet this preseason (although it's probably just a matter of time).

And if you REALLY want to overreact to last night's game, just know that Bengals rookie Andy Dalton was 11 of 17 for 130 yards and a touchdown, and he was the fifth quarterback taken in the 2011 draft.

It all leaves you with the burning question -- just how much has the pay cut going from the SEC to the NFL gotten into Cam Newton's head?

Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio (Sirius 94, XM 208) and on 1560 The Game, and follow him on Twitter at

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