Inside the Panthers

Panthers QB Cam Newton has come a long way in eyes of teammates

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, left, was selected as the team’s winner of the Ed Block Courage Award this season.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, left, was selected as the team’s winner of the Ed Block Courage Award this season. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Tuesday’s announcement that Cam Newton is the Panthers’ Ed Block Courage Award winner speaks to what the fifth-year quarterback has accomplished on and off the field.

But it also shows how far Newton has come in the eyes of some of his teammates.

This isn’t like the Pro Bowl where players are selected by fans and other teams’ coaches and players.

Newton was selected as the Ed Block winner by a vote of his teammates, several of whom thought Newton had some growing up to do early in his career.

Linebacker Thomas Davis wasn’t thrilled that Newton worked out on his own after the Panthers drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011. And offensive linemen Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross talked to Newton about keeping his emotions in check during games in his rookie season.

But Newton has developed as one of the team leaders over the past several years, a transition that was eased by the release of Steve Smith and other veterans.

Newton has a different leadership style, to be sure. He knows how to keep the mood loose at practice, a trait that was beneficial as the Panthers chased a perfect season and grabbed the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

Newton’s insistence at maintaining his personality has let other players know it’s OK to be themselves, too.

The Panthers have other players who are worthy of the Block Award.

That Newton’s teammates chose him is telling.

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