The way Labor Day fell this year, most NFL teams will start training camp a week later, giving Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton a few extra days to hone the drop-kick he learned during a Gatorade-sponsored trip to Australia.
Panthers fans should take some comfort in the fact Newton was able to dabble in Australian Rules Football and jump into an Atlanta flag football tournament for a few plays this summer.
Last year Newton was coming off offseason ankle surgery that prompted the Panthers to keep him in bubble-wrap for the first couple weeks of training camp.
That won’t be the case this year. Newton has a new contract and a clean slate after an injury-filled 2014.
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The Panthers’ new $103 million man tops the Observer’s list of the 10 most intriguing players at camp, which begins Friday at Wofford.
10 newcomers worth watching at Panthers’ camp
1. DE Frank Alexander: Technically a returning player, he’s in the mix for Hardy’s old spot after two suspensions in ’14.
2. CB Charles Tillman: Vocal veteran is coming off two injury-shortened seasons in Chicago.
3. WR/PR Ted Ginn Jr.: Return game was abysmal last season after Ginn left for Arizona.
4. CB Chris Houston: Another veteran to add depth, competition in secondary.
5. OT Jonathan Martin: Fall-back option behind Michael Oher at left tackle.
6. KR Jordan Todman: Former Jaguar is favorite to win kick return job.
7. RB Cameron Artis-Payne: Panthers drafted the other Cam from Auburn in fifth round.
8. OT Daryl Williams: Huge rookie will back up right tackle Mike Remmers initially.
9. WR Stephen Hill: Practice squad member in 2014 has all the tools, except consistent hands.
10. LB David Mayo: Burly, inside backer struggled in space during OTAs.