ALAMEDA -- For a Raiders defensive unit that has been victimized by both the run and pass, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton presents the ultimate dilemma.

Newton leads the Panthers in rushing with 673 yards, and over two seasons he has scored 21 touchdowns -- the most by any quarterback over his first two NFL seasons and two more than the Raiders have as a team over the same span.

His 1,379 yards on the ground in 2011-12 is more than Raiders leader Darren McFadden (1,218).

With 373 yards passing in his final two games, Newton will eclipse Peyton Manning's total of 7,874 yards for the most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first two years.

Dominating Brady Quinn in a 15-0 win over the Kansas City Chiefs is one thing. Dealing with Newton is something else entirely.

Raiders middle linebacker Omar Gaither, a teammate of Newton's last season with the Panthers, called the former Heisman Trophy winner a "wow" player.

"Some stuff, you can't practice for it," Gaither said. "It's like you're playing against Kobe (Bryant), you know what he can do, but somehow he still hangs 40 on you."

Although the Raiders haven't faced a lot of mobile quarterbacks -- Minnesota's Christian Ponder rushed for 70 yards against them last season -- they are better equipped to prepare for Newton than most NFL teams.

No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor, 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, is a stunt double of sorts to the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton.


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The two are acquainted and have exchanged text messages. Pryor is careful not to compare himself with the new breed of run/pass quarterbacks that includes Newton, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick because "they have proved it. I haven't done anything yet."

But defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said Pryor has given his unit a reasonable facsimile of Newton during practice, not only running the read option but giving tips on how to best defend it.

Pryor has also simulated Newton breaking free on scrambles on broken plays, where he can hurt defenses with either the run or pass.

Newton is in the midst of his most efficient streak since being the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011 out of Auburn. He hasn't thrown an interception in 152 passes, the longest current streak in the NFL.

"That's pretty impressive, but I think with the type of offense they have and the type of reads that he has, it comes with that," Raiders linebacker Philip Wheeler said. "If he doesn't see it, he runs it. I think that might come into effect."

In a 30-20 win over Atlanta on Dec. 9, Newton ripped off a 72-yard touchdown on a designed read-option run, the fifth-longest by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era.

"He creates a lot of issues that you have to worry about," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "You have to worry about him in the passing game, scrambling around and keeping plays alive. They use him a lot of different ways in the running game also."

Carolina coach Ron Rivera told reporters by conference call that having a quarterback as the leading rusher is not ideal, but he isn't about to stifle Newton's creativity or spontaneity.

"The crazy part of it is a lot of Cam's runs weren't called," Rivera said. "A lot of them were him tucking, running and making plays."

The run-pass threat poses a problem for defensive backs in coverage on when to abandon their man for a potential scramble. Cornerback Michael Huff doesn't plan on taking the bait.

"You don't come off," Huff said. "You have no idea, with your back turned. You stay on your guy -- regardless."

For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on twitter at Twitter.com/Jerrymcd.