Newton, Norman tussle

Published 3:13 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Emotions got the best of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton at practice on Monday.

Newton was involved in a scuffle with cornerback Josh Norman that ended with both players at the bottom of a pile and having to be separated by teammates. Neither player was injured.

The altercation occurred after Norman made a sliding interception against Newton, got up and began to return the ball toward the opposing end zone. Newton pursued, but felt Norman hit him while he was running.

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As whistles blew signaling the end of the play, Newton sped up his pursuit of Norman and tackled him near the end zone. The two wrestled on the ground for a few moments as some other players piled on.

The players were eventually separated.

An irate Newton got up shouting at Norman — “hit me like that again and you’ll know something” — as he was being restrained by teammates.

After the altercation, veteran linebacker and defensive leader Thomas Davis screamed at the fifth-year quarterback, saying, “That’s stupid. That’s stupid.”

Newton recently was anointed the team’s franchise quarterback, signing a five-year, $103.5 million contract. The Panthers cannot afford to have him get hurt.

While fights are relatively common at NFL training camps, it’s rare when a quarterback is involved, particularly one of Newton’s stature.

Newton was wearing a red jersey during practice, which is supposed to signal to other players to not touch or tackle him. But Newton instigated the scuffle.

The quarterback and Norman are extremely competitive players and two of the biggest trash talkers on the team, often overheard jawing at the other side of the line. Normally those words are just talk, but this time it turned nasty.

Even after the altercation, Newton and Norman continued to jaw at each other from across the field with Newton daring him to do it again.

It was an intense practice from the beginning.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who is normally calm and reserved, called in his second-team defense together early in the morning session and screamed at them for their lack of hustle. He then replaced one defensive tackle with another before starting practice.

The intensity at practice picked up from there, culminating in the scuffle between Newton and Norman.