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Ealy handled Newton's ribbing well

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Rookie defensive end Kony Ealy didn't take the ribbing he got from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton during Saturday's practice personally.

"I liked it,'' the second-round pick out of Missouri said on Sunday. "It was something that got my blood pumping. I was talking smack back to him.''

That's a good sign.

Ealy was struggling to get around reserve offensive lineman David Foucault when Newton began taunting him unmercifully. Coach Ron Rivera said afterwards that Ealy, who has struggled some throughout training camp, needed to be pushed a little.

What he needed was to respond, and he did to the point he fought back.

Newton and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott -- as well as others -- talked to him about it afterwards.

"I understand what the message was with Cam,'' Ealy said. "It was nothing personal at all. Actually, I take it positively. Cam was doing it to bring the best out of me. He didn't mean nothing bad about that.''

The Panthers are counting on Ealy to play end and tackle, giving them more flexibility on the line in pass-rushing situations like they have with Pro Bowl end Greg Hardy.

Ealy has been working more with the first-team defense the past few days than normal because Hardy (shoulder contusion) and Charles Johnson (hamstring) have been injured.

That he hasn't gotten to the quarterback a lot doesn't concern him.

"I feel I can get to the quarterback when I want to,'' he said.

But Ealy admitted he might need to add his pass-rushing repertoire from college to be an effective NFL pass-rusher.

"A little bit difficult,'' he said of the transition. "As long as I'm learning my plays, I feel like if you know what you're doing you're going to move a lot faster.''