When Panthers quarterback Cam Newton takes off running the football, there's a natural concern that he's putting himself at risk of being injured.
It's one reason why few NFL quarterbacks run unless they're forced to scramble and, even then, they're looking for a place to slide down or step out of bounds.
But given Newton's explosive running ability - he's the team's second-leading rusher for 411 yards on 77 carries - the rookie isn't about to become purely a pocket passer. Though coach Ron Rivera said several weeks ago that he'd like to limit Newton's planned carries, the numbers haven't diminished significantly.
While others may be concerned about Newton's safety, he feels better running in the open field.
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"Honestly, I take more hits in the pocket than I do outside the pocket. In the pocket, I don't see who's coming and that could be more dangerous than when you're running. You've got your eyes on a swivel, aware of your surroundings," Newton said.
"If I'm running, I know this may sound kind of crazy, but I feel more comfortable protecting myself rather than being in the pocket and being defenseless, especially when I decide where I'm throwing and your body is somewhat vulnerable to any type of hit because you can't brace it if you want to get a completion."
Last Sunday, Newton set an NFL rookie record with his ninth rushing touchdown, breaking the mark previously held by Vince Young. Newton is three rushing touchdowns shy of matching Steve Grogan's league record of 12 rushing touchdowns for a quarterback.
Newton knew the record he broke and who held it. At Auburn last year, Newton said he thought about Young before the Tigers played in the national championship game against Oregon.
"The only thing I could think about was I've got to top Vince Young's performance (467 total yards). But I didn't. We still got the same outcome," said Newton, who had 329 total yards in the win over Oregon.
"He's just an amazing athlete that plays quarterback. I don't think he gets a lot of credit that he deserves, especially the performance he put on this Sunday coming off the bench (for Philadelphia). I don't think his talent is worthy for coming off the bench but that's something he had to do. I have much respect for both of those guys, Mike (Vick) and Vince. Vince on the road coming out with that last drive (to beat the New York Giants) was just unbelievable."
TOO BLUE: Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said he was fined $5,000 by the league for wearing cleats that featured too much blue in them last week at Detroit. Munnerlyn said he's worn the same cleats for 10 weeks, and was told by a league official before the game that the shoes complied with the NFL's uniform policy.
Munnerlyn plans to appeal. Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart was fined for the same offense earlier this season, but said the fine was reduced on appeal.
Chicago receiver Earl Bennett ran up $15,000 in fines after wearing orange cleats for two weeks. Bennett played in regular cleats last week against San Diego after the league informed him he wouldn't be allowed on the field with the orange shoes, according to ESPN.com.
SHOCKEY BACK: Tight end Jeremy Shockey returned to full practice Wednesday after missing last week due to a rib injury he suffered against Tennessee.
Rivera said Shockey suffered no broken ribs when he was hurt early in the game against the Titans and tried to return to the game.