Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had a press conference Thursday – his first since early January.
Here are some of the things we learned:
He’ll be more patient: After practice on Wednesday evening, offensive coordinator Mike Shula mentioned that holding Newton to a “pitch count” on his throws and making sure he’s patient in his recovery would have been a lot harder to enforce five years ago.
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“Where I’m at right now, I don’t think it’s more so rushing as being proactive about it,” said Newton. “Young Cam would have been hurt and ate some gummy bears walking back to the room and would have been good. But now, a couple kids in, you start feeling the little throbs and just knowing you’re not doing your body its justice.
“It’s a long camp, and (you know) you have to be the best player for yourself and for this organization.”
Patience has been a big factor for Newton in slimming down as well as taking care of his shoulder, on which he had surgery to repair a partially-torn rotator cuff in February.
Newton drew questions as to why he played through the injury instead of sitting out, especially when he knew the Panthers did not have much chance of making the playoffs.
“I just couldn’t come to grips with knowing that – were we going to the playoffs? No. But that (Tampa Bay game) was my playoff game,” said Newton. “I could have easily tapped the head of (head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion) and said, ‘You know, I don’t want to play this game.’ And I could have had a good excuse.
“But I couldn’t look at Thomas Davis the same. I couldn’t look at Ryan Kalil, or even the guys that we had on our team the same. Because I wanted them to know, if anyone is going to leave it out there on the field, it’s going to be me regardless of what kind of football game it is.”
He’ll still run when needed: The Panthers can evolve the offense all they want to give Cam Newton fewer called running plays. But if it’s third-and-7 and the pocket breaks down and there’s a running lane, Newton is going to take off – surgically repaired shoulder, ankle and all.
“I don’t understand certain things. That’s my edge. You going to expect a lion not to roar?” Newton said. “You’ve got to really ask yourself that, like I couldn’t imagine talking to (Tom) Brady or Aaron (Rodgers) or Matt Ryan or (Drew) Brees and saying, ‘Hey, you going to stay in the pocket all day like that.’
“That’s where you feel comfortable at. In my career over the whole body of work, the things that have put me at an advantage most times is having that ability to run.”
Newton has taken more hits than any other QB – by a wide margin – since entering the league in 2011. And he has no problem if Mike Shula scales back the zone read and calls fewer designed runs for Newton.
As long as it results in wins.
On other topics:
▪ Newton called last year “extremely humbling” and said he was taking that 6-10 season deeply to heart and needed to get his “swag” back.
“I took last year personal,” said Newton, who reported to camp at 246 pounds after playing at 10-15 pounds heavier than that for much of his career. “I took it extremely personal and I knew something had to change, starting with myself. ... For my career I can’t let that happen again. Ever. ...
▪ Newton said he was nervous throwing during the first training camp practice Wednesday. “Nervous – but excited,” he said.
▪ Newton gleefully said beloved middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was actually becoming more and more of a trash talker and that some of the words Kuechly said on the field could not be published in a children’s book.