As a rookie, Cam Newton’s debut on the Bank of America Stadium practice fields had to wait until the hotter days of August, but this year, he has the end of May and all of this summer to get ready for the field.
“We need to take full advantage of the OTAs, because this time last year I was just working out every single day with just a couple of pages to go by,” Newton said. “There’s nothing like having organized team functions like this where you can talk to your coaches and ask them things that are going to make you better. It’s great to be getting reps – mental and physical.
“It’s been great. We’ve had full participation, which is something you look for. It’s a start, a good sign. Everybody is coming out here fresh, with the mentality to work and get better. That’s all you can ask.”
Last year Newton had to wait three months after the draft to get to work with the team, because of the lockout.
With limited time, though, Newton still thrived and led the Panthers to top 7 finishes in yards and scoring last year.
Still, with little lead time, he directed an offense that ranked last in the NFL in yards and scoring in 2010 to top-seven showings in both categories in 2011.
Newton, coming off a season that earned him the Pro Bowl nod and NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, is trying to become more of a leader.
“He’s really maturing and becoming what you hope for in your starting quarterback,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. “You’re seeing the continued evolution based on what happened last year and how we finished the season out. Now he’s just working and encouraging his teammates to keep working hard.
“He’s pushing himself. Cam doesn’t just say it; he does it. I’m pretty excited about what we’re getting from him as far as his overall development as a football player and a leader.”
If Newton continues to work hard, then only good things will happen to him. And everyone who enjoys watching him play will be the real winners. And that is an exciting thought.