Rivera wants Newton to take on leadership role

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers coach Ron Rivera was extremely happy with the play of Cam Newton in 2011, and says he wants the rookie quarterback to take on a bigger leadership role when he returns next season.

Newton set an NFL single-season record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500. Still, the Panthers struggled to win close games and finished 6-10 in Newton's first season.

Rivera says Newton was careful not to step on the toes of veteran players, but expects that'll change now that he has a year under his belt.

Rivera says he told Newton after the season that he will be " the veteran next year."