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Cam Newton versus the Rams should tell us how serious the NFL is about protecting QBs

We’ll know how seriously the NFL took Cam Newton’s complaints when he faces the Rams and their dirty reputation this week.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers got back on track with a 30-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals last week, but the reigning NFL MVP wasn’t all smiles after the game. Instead he had some complaints about the punishment he absorbed that went unpenalized.

"It's taking the fun out of the game for me," Newton told reporters after the game.

Newton specifically cited a low hit from Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell in the third quarter. Campbell got up and apologized to Newton for the hit, but officials did not throw a flag.

Newton told reporters he planned to talk to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the lack of calls.

Campbell was fined $18,000 for the hit, and Newton had his meeting with Goodell. Newton said they had a “great discussion” was waiting to see how things unfold on the field this week and beyond.

The league reportedly believes that it only missed three roughing the passer calls on Newton since the beginning 2013, while 11 other quarterbacks have been worse off. They admitted missed calls that would have benefitted the Panthers quarterback, but they aren’t expected to call games any differently with mobile quarterbacks versus the traditional pocket passer.

If the league is putting extra scrutiny on its officials to call more hits on quarterbacks, Carolina’s Week 9 game against the Los Angeles Rams could give us a clear sign if that’s the case. The Rams defense, under DC Gregg Williams and head coach Jeff Fisher, has a well-earned reputation for playing dirty and targeting players.

The Rams insist that they won’t treat Cam any differently.

“We’re got going into this game trying to hurt him,” Rams defensive end William Hayes said. “We’re just going to play the way we play.”

Newton’s comments come less than two weeks after the NFL tweaked its concussion protocol due to the handling of hits absorbed by the Panthers quarterback in Week 1. The Denver Broncos delivered several unpenalized hits to the head of Newton in the season opener, and he was not removed from the game to be evaluated for a concussion.

He wasn’t diagnosed with a concussion after the game, but the NFL admitted that there were issues with the communication between the spotter and sideline that needed to be addressed.

After the Week 1 game, Newton was judicious about the officials not throwing more flags.

"It's not my job to question the officials," Newton said. "I really like this officiating crew. So it wasn't something that I know they did intentionally, but it's not fun getting hit in the head.

"I try to warn the refs every time I do get hit in the head, but if the flag is not called, then it's okay."

After missing Week 5 with a concussion, Newton is clearly losing his patience with officials for not protecting him more. With a road game against the hard-hitting Los Angeles Rams up next, it might not be getting any easier for Newton, either.