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Cam Newton abruptly leaves news conference in latest fumble with media

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton abruptly walked out of his Wednesday news conference after a question about the offense's ability to consistently get yardage in "big chunks.''

Newton paused when asked the question, rolled his eyes and answered with "next question.'' He then exited. He was approximately a step away from the podium as another reporter attempted to ask a question.

"Cam didn't intend to be discourteous toward any specific media member," Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said in a statement. "In his mind, after answering questions for nine minutes he had fulfilled his obligations."

Newton's exit came a week after he did not fulfill his weekly media obligations and speak on Wednesday or Thursday. And it came two weeks after he publicly apologized for making light of a football question from a female reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. Rodrigue took two weeks off after the incident and returned last week.

Newton met his media obligations during the time prior to that.

Wednesday wasn't the first time Newton cut short a news conference. His most publicized early exit followed a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, when he walked out on reporters after answering only a handful of questions, mostly with short responses. He later admitted to being a "sore loser."

The Panthers (4-3) have struggled with completing passes of more than 20 yards this season, particularly the past two weeks in losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. Newton was 1-for-6 with an interception on attempts of 20-plus yards in those games.

He has thrown five interceptions against one touchdown over the past two games, after throwing six TD passes and one pick the previous two weeks in wins against the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions.

Coach Ron Rivera defended his quarterback's performance on Wednesday, noting that Chicago scored on a 75-yard fumble return and a 76-yard interception on plays that weren't Newton's fault.

"Well, let's see,'' Rivera said. "The ball ricochets off somebody's hand, tips off another guy's hand, gets tipped at the line of scrimmage, we drop a pitch ... yeah. There's more to it. People look at numbers and they start saying one thing or another.

"We've had four weeks in a row where we've had almost 300 yards consecutively of total offense. ... We put points up against Philadelphia. We had a couple of bad things happen. I'm not sure you can directly point those at the quarterback.''

Rivera said he'd like to believe fluke things have happened the past two weeks that have made Newton and the offense look worse than they have been.

"I'd like to think we all saw the game, we all saw those things happen," he said. "It's not like he tried to have those things happen is my point. That's why we don't need to start pushing panic buttons.''

When asked about some of the fluke things to which Rivera referred, Newton said, "It is what it is.''

"Nobody cares about my feelings. Nobody cares if the ball popped up in the air or got tipped,'' he added. "It's just on us to make sure when we have opportunities to make plays and to do things we know we're capable of doing, we've just got to do it.

"And I'm speaking more so of the man in mirror. And everything falls in place.''