- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fred Davis couldn’t help feel some responsibility for quarterback Rex Grossman’s demotion this week. Two of Grossman’s four interceptions in Sunday’s loss to Philadelphia were intended for him.

“I felt like I could have probably saved him,” Davis said. “Don’t you think if he didn’t have those two interceptions?”

Possibly. Grossman almost certainly wouldn’t have been benched if he had thrown only two interceptions. He threw that many in games against Arizona and St. Louis earlier this season, at least.

But four was the magic number, apparently. On the first, Grossman tried to connect with Davis deep down the middle of the field. He threw the ball up near the goal line for Davis to make a play on, but the throw needed to be lower and away from safety Kurt Coleman.

Coleman jumped over Davis to intercept the pass.

“It’s one of them plays that would be great if you made,” Davis said. “It would be a great play.”

Davis said Grossman’s third interception was “definitely” his fault. He stopped his crossing route near the goal line, and Coleman drove in front of him and picked off the pass.

“Usually I cross [the safety’s] face that deep in the open field, but I don’t know what I was thinking in the red zone,” Davis said. “I was supposed to cross earlier and I didn’t.”

Newton’s rapid rise

Quarterback Cam Newton, this year’s first-overall pick, has quieted many of his doubters through his first six NFL games. He’s on pace for almost 5,000 passing yards and has helped revive a Carolina Panthers offense that was among the worst in the NFL last season.

“It’s right along the lines of what we expected of him — just not this early,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said in a teleconference. “I mean he really has done a tremendous job. The hard part for him is having been in a situation where he hadn’t lost a lot. Now he’s trying to adapt and grow into this role of having to develop and manage our expectations and go through this process as a team.”

Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett compared Newton, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, to Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger because of his size (6-foot-5, 248) and how difficult it is to tackle him.

The Panthers have exploited his athleticism by designing running plays for him. He has six rushing touchdowns and is tied for second on the team with 210 yards.

“With Cam being an option to run the ball, it adds another feature, but, also, this offense is night and day,” receiver Steve Smith said. “Just to be plain and simple, no disrespect to anybody, but it’s night and day as far as the numbers that our offense - not me or one guy - is putting up, remarkable with no offseason [and] with a rookie quarterback. It kind of shows.”

Carolina is averaging 6.45 yards per play, sixth-best in the NFL. But Newton also has thrown nine interceptions, tied for most in the NFL with deposed Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman.

“He’s coming from college to pro,” Smith said. “When you’re coming from college to the real world, this business of football or whatever business that is, it’s a growing process that everybody experiences.”

Extra points

• Tight end Chris Cooley had surgery on his fractured left hand Wednesday, coach Mike Shanahan said, but Shanahan said he did not know details of the surgery.

• Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger will have right knee ligament reconstruction surgery Tuesday, his wife said on her Twitter account.

• Free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (knee) missed his second straight practice. Reed Doughty would start in his place if he can’t play. Cornerback Byron Westbrook (hamstring) missed practice. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall (toe) was limited.

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