CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For a team in danger of missing the playoffs and mired in another two-game losing skid, the Carolina Panthers would seem to have enough on their plate heading into what looks like a must-win stretch.The distractions, however, have been plenty for the Panthers as they prepare for a home game Sunday afternoon with the San Diego Chargers.Not only is Carolina coming off Sunday nights 40-7 throttling from the Seattle Seahawks, but theyre dealing with the fallout from the benching of quarterback Cam Newton at the start of the game because of a violation of the teams dress code.Newton wasnt much of a help when he got into the game.The Chargers have their own issues, losing two of their last three games as theyve been unable to climb into legitimate playoff contention.San Diego (5-7) and Carolina (4-8) are last-place teams in their respective divisions.While physical ailments have been part of the storyline for the Panthers, the shortcomings might extend beyond that. The mental psyche of the team is at the core of recent discussions.You are concerned about them. You are concerned about the mental health of the team, coach Ron Rivera said. Its disappointing because expectations were hot. ... I feel very fortunate that we have a strong culture inside that locker room.Speculation has been simmering about Riveras relationship with Newton after the quarterback, who was the 2015 Most Valuable Player in the league, was held out for the first snap at Seattle because he failed to wear a tie as part of his attire on the teams trip to the game.Newton didnt appear for a scheduled news conference Wednesday. Rivera said the issue of the dress code has been addressed and hes ready to move on.I treat everybody the same, Rivera said. Everybody gets treated the same.Chargers coach Mike McCoy is dealing with questions about the teams personnel and his decision-making with his club unable to make much headway. He said its not fair to paint the entire season with one brush.Everyone is different, McCoy said of each game. Nobody likes to lose. We all understand we have to do our jobs better. Its never just one thing from week to week. Its a different reason for it.Its not easy winning in this league. Look at us. One or two plays can change everything.Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was a full participant in Fridays practice but he was not cleared from the NFL concussion protocol and the team ruled him out for Sundays game.This is the situation were in, Rivera said. Theres no turning around from it. ... You want to be consistent. Weve got four games left in the regular season and were going to play them all one at a time. I think its a good opportunity to see who we are, to see the character and see what we can build on.The Chargers are often sparked by quarterback Philip Rivers, who returns to the state where he starred in college for North Carolina State. But Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions, marking the second-highest total in the NFL this season. He has also thrown for 25 touchdowns.With the microscope on some of the Chargers missteps, the problems are spread across different areas.Its not just the last two minutes of a game, McCoy said. Sometimes the ball bounces your way, sometimes it doesnt.The Chargers, too, have been questioned about the teams collective mindset.We have a lot of good veteran guys around here who keep you upbeat and keep you going, San Diego tight end Hunter Henry said. It makes you sick to your stomach knowing what you could have done and what you could have done in all those other games.Carolina has an 0-3 record this season against AFC West teams, so it will try to prevent a sweep in that regard. San Diego is 1-2 against the NFC South.Rivera was the Chargers linebackers coach in 2007 and then became the defensive coordinator the next year during his four seasons on the San Diego staff. Rivers was the quarterback during that time.McCoy spent nine seasons with the Panthers, serving as receivers coach, quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.I love going back there, McCoy said. A lot of what I do today, I developed with Carolina. Its a special place.The teams havent met since the Panthers won 31-7 on Dec. 16, 2012, in San Diego. Carolina has won four of the five all-time meetings. Discount Ecco Shoes Online .ca. Kerry, Just watched the shootout in the Coyotes/Leafs game and I have to ask, why was the James van Riemsdyk goal allowed to count? All of the video replays we were shown on TV were inconclusive about whether the puck had entirely crossed the line or not. Ecco Shoes Sale Outlet . -- Bryant McKinnie came out of his stance and lowered his shoulder into a practice squad player, causing a crisp thud to reverberate in the Miami Dolphins practice bubble. http://www.wholesaleecco.com/ . 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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- With injuries impacting their lineup early, freshmen have had to play big minutes in Penn States new fast-paced offense.They havent disappointed and on Tuesday, the Nittany Lions promising freshman class got help from a handful of veterans to pull away from Grand Canyon 85-76.Rookie Lamar Stevens scored 19 points and top returning scorers Payton Banks (15) and Shep Garner (14) chipped in to lead the Nittany Lions in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.I think weve made a lot of good strides over the last three games, Banks said. I think were jelling well. I feel like the rotation, were starting to get used to it, starting to get used to where guys are going to be.They were all over the paint in scoring 40 points and netting 20 second-chance points against the Antelopes. Along with Stevens, freshman Tony Carr also had his third-straight double-digit game with 10 points.This is the type of scoring potential Penn State coach Pat Chambers envisioned when he pledged to meld young and old and chase 80-plus points per game in the preseason. To get there, the Nittany Lions (2-1) needed to overcome a 0-for-9 shooting slump in the first five minutes of the second half that saw them squander a 48-41 halftime lead.I found out a lot about my team, Chambers said. They dug deep, they got back to the middle of the ring, they punched back and we took the lead.Joshua Braun made 5 of 10 3-pointers and led Grand Canyon (0-2) with 25 points. Oscar Frayer, Darion Clark, Keonta Vernon and Shaq Carr also finished in double figures for the Antelopes with 13, 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively.Braun hit 2 of 3 free throws with 15:29 left to give Grand Canyon a 50-48 lead -- its last of the game.The Nittany Lions put together an impressive 13-7 run immediately thereafter in which Banks and Stevens combiined for all 13 points.ddddddddddddStevens tipped in a rebound with 6:06 left to put Penn State up 75-63 for its biggest lead.We knew it was going to be tough game, Grand Canyon coach Dan Majerle said. Were shorthanded, DeWayne Russell is our starting point guard, he wasnt able to play the first two games, well get him back.BUSY SCHEDULEPenn State played its third game in five days and its schedule remains hectic for the near future. The Nittany Lions will cap the tournament with back-to-back games this weekend and will play five times in the final 11 days of the month.MORE FROM MOOREJulian Moore led Penn State with nine rebounds and had the type of game Chambers hoped he would have earlier. But foul trouble in the first two games limited Moores minutes. He played 20 against the Antelopes.HURT LIONSGuard Josh Reaves missed his third game with a lower leg injury and hes not expected to play this weekend. Forward Davis Zemgulis missed his first game with a concussion and Isaiah Washington also sat out for Penn State with an unspecified ailment.THE BIG PICTUREGrand Canyon: The Antelopes are 0 for 6 against Power 5 teams and have been outscored 550-365 since they joined the Division I ranks.Penn State: The Nittany Lions have never began a season with three freshmen starters in three straight games as they have with Stevens, Watkins and Tony Carr this year. Carr and Stevens were in double figures for the third time and Watkins finished with nine points and six rebounds.UP NEXTGrand Canyon travels to Uncasville, Connecticut to continue the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament against Albany on Saturday.Penn State will also visit Uncasville on Saturday where it will face No. 1 Duke. ' ' '