The Panthers pulled quarterback Cam Newton from the final two team periods Sunday, deciding to rest Newton and his surgically repaired shoulder on the last of five consecutive practices to open training camp.
Newton underwent surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder in March, and Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was not concerned by Newton’s arm fatigue Sunday.
Backup quarterback Derek Anderson replaced Newton after head athletics trainer Ryan Vermillion decided to give his starter a break.
“That’s all part of the maintenance. As we go through it and he starts feeling fatigued or we see it, we’re going to go up and talk to him,” Rivera said. “(Vermillion) decided he’s going to take him out. I said, ‘OK.’”
“Don’t be surprised. It could happen at any practice,” the coach added. “It’s all part of the process of him getting back to shape. This is part of it. I mean, five straight days of work.”
Before his breather, Newton had a couple ups and downs. He was intercepted twice – by linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback Daryl Worley – but also uncorked a touchdown pass to Brenton Bersin on one of his longest throws of camp.
Worley chose not to add fuel to the fire by saying anything to Newton after the pick.
Pissing Cam off is definitely one of our goals. It’s unlisted, but it’s definitely one of them.
Cornerback Daryl Worley
“Nothing needs to be said. We could see it all in his eyes when he’s pissed off,” Worley said. “Pissing Cam off is definitely one of our goals. It’s unlisted, but it’s definitely one of them.”
That said, Worley praised Newton’s mental focus during the first week of camp. And while Newton is still building his arm strength back, Worley hasn’t noticed a drop-off.
“If anything, mentally he’s a lot sharper than he may have been last year as far as my perspective goes. As far as his arm, I’m even more impressed with it,” Worley said.
Following Sunday’s two-hour practice – the third in a row in full pads – Newton did extra conditioning work alongside quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey.
Players are off for a day before returning to Wofford for a practice Tuesday morning.
The Panthers will be off Monday before returning to Wofford for a practice Tuesday morning.
Running back Fozzy Whittaker said he wouldn’t have guessed Newton had shoulder surgery based on his first week of camp.
“He’s looking accurate. He can still throw the deep ball. Everything’s looking good from a perspective of him throwing,” Whittaker said. “Running the ball, he looks great. Everything he’s doing, he looks like himself.”
Worley described a pass Newton made during one of the first practices as evidence the 2015 league MVP hasn’t lost any zip on his passes.
“We thought he was looking a completely different way. His helmet was turned a different way. He just slung it and we all were shocked the ball even went that way,” Worley said.
“He’s definitely impressive and he’s bounced back,” Worley added. “If anything he’s two steps ahead of where he was before.”