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Cam Newton makes cover of ESPN the Magazine

cam newton
- ESPN the Magazine

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is on the cover of this week’s ESPN the Magazine’s franchise issue, featured in a story that examines whether Newton can win in his third season and his continued development as a leader.

In the story written by Ryan McGee and Carmen Thompson, Newton said he holds no grudges against the four young quarterbacks who led their teams to the 2012 playoffs.

“People automatically assume I just hate Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, (Robert Griffin III) or Russell Wilson,” Newton is quoted as saying. “But I really am a fan of all those guys. Like, really. I’m watching all the games. Let the competition make me a better person, a better leader. If you’re not relevant, you can’t hate the person’s who relevant.”

The article also addresses Newton’s aloofness at the Panthers’ facility, claiming he lifted weights by himself in a separate room his first two years. According to the ESPN the Magazine piece, linebacker Thomas Davis approached Newton in the room during voluntary workouts last spring, and – within earshot of teammates – asked if he was going to lift with them.

Newton told the writers if given five minutes with people, he would be able to “change their perception of the vibe I’ve got about myself.”

Carolina first-year general manager Dave Gettleman set the bar during training camp when he said Newton was the team’s quarterback of the future, “but now it’s time to win.”

Newton understands those expectations.

“This is year three. This is the year they say you either do it or you don’t. I know that,” Newton told ESPN the Magazine. “Everyone in football knows that. And the people up there in those stands know that. Year three.”

Lester Promoted: The Panthers didn’t look far to fill safety Charles Godfrey’s roster spot, signing former Alabama safety Robert Lester from the practice squad Tuesday.

Godfrey was placed on injured reserve with a torn Achilles, the most serious injury for a Panthers secondary that has been depleted by injuries. Godfrey has been a starter since the Panthers took him in third round out of Iowa in 2008, and he has never played fewer than 11 games in a season.

Lester, an undrafted rookie who was part of three national title teams, impressed coaches during the spring, but he did not sustain the production at training camp and ended up on the practice squad after final cuts.

With two other safeties dealing with injuries – Quintin Mikell (ankle) and D.J. Moore (knee) – it’s possible Lester is active this weekend against the Giants.

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said Lester has an ability to locate the ball and make plays when it’s in the air.

“We thought he got better as the weeks wore on,” McDermott said. “And as he got more comfortable, like any player, he’s going to show up, and his true abilities are going to show up more with time.”

The Panthers will have two new players on the practice squad after promoting Lester and cutting wide receiver James Shaw.

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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