Cam Newton did three-, five- and seven-step drops Tuesday, digging his right ankle hard into the ground and then planting with his surgically repaired left ankle.
The Panthers’ franchise quarterback threw more than a dozen passes to his receivers in the opening passing session of Carolina’s mandatory minicamp, and then his day was complete.
Thirteen weeks removed from surgery that tightened loose ligaments in his left ankle, Newton will not participate in any team drills this week, and he’s still on pace to return to full practice during training camp.
“I think I’m on schedule to make a speedy recovery,” Newton said after practice. “We are in the last curve and I am just trying to be smart about it, do everything that the trainers ask of me and more and see where that gets me.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton, who spent part of organized team activities on the underwater treadmill, was able to do more than he thought the quarterback would. The coach left open the possibility last week of Newton making a return to the field for minicamp but admitted it was an outside chance.
“We’re not going to force any issue with him, so he was able to do what he was supposed to,” Rivera said.
If there’s any caution with Newton at training camp and the preseason, Rivera said it would be with called runs. The team will likely dial back any designed quarterback runs so as to not aggravate the injury.
The Panthers will want to see him get the basic passing fundamentals and mechanics back, and the team is less worried about his running ability.
“His timing is probably the most important thing as far as them running the routes and him releasing the ball,” Rivera said. “That’s the biggest thing that’s got to get into focus. I’m not quite concerned about him running right now, because that comes very natural to him.”