Tom Sorensen

Short takes: Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Minter

The Carolina offense is talented, and if quarterback Cam Newton, right, can take advantage of that, the Panthers are going to be good this season.
The Carolina offense is talented, and if quarterback Cam Newton, right, can take advantage of that, the Panthers are going to be good this season.

The sound track at training camp will consist of whistles, the voices of coaches, usually assistants, and Cam Newton loudly talking trash. As is customary, Newton will be part of camp’s biggest story. How will working with a new offensive coordinator, Norv Turner, and new receivers such as D.J. Moore and Torrey Smith, and a new-old receiver in Curtis Samuel, affect him?

The offense is talented, and if Newton can take advantage of that, the Panthers are going to be good. However, they did lose all-Pro guard Andrew Norwell. The post-Norwell line will need to protect Newton and help make the running game go. …

Are you pulling for Johnny Manziel to succeed with the Montreal Alouettes, who just traded for him? Manziel will be reunited with former Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman. Do you remember how good Manziel was in college? He’s washed out of the NFL, getting more attention for where he was – Manziel is in Las Vegas! – than for what he did. I’m not going to subscribe to the Alouettes Network. But if I see Manziel highlights, which would indicate that he played in a genuine Canadian Football League game, I’ll watch. …

I’m a fan of Deshaun Watson, the former Clemson quarterback that now leads the Houston Texans’ offense. I hope he becomes who he was; last season he suffered an ACL injury to his right knee. Watson was so good before he was hurt. Several of us said that he should have been the first ACC quarterback selected in the draft. He wasn’t. The Chicago Bears invested the second pick on Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina. Houston took Watson 12th.

College success doesn’t always carry over to the NFL, and the qualities that make a player special in college don’t always apply to the NFL. But if Watson doesn’t make it big, I’ll be surprised. …

I spent last week in and around Minneapolis, out on Lake Minnetonka, which Prince helped make famous, and on shore of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. Since I was a kid I’ve dreamed of traveling the Mississippi on a raft, not stopping until New Orleans. There are tougher ways to get to New Orleans, especially if you embark from Charlotte. One of them is Interstate 85 through Atlanta. …

The Houston Rockets have become a lesser team since the season ended. They lost wings Luc Mbah A Moute to his former team, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Trevor Ariza to the Phoenix Suns. They will sign free-agent forward Carmelo Anthony.

That’s a loss for Houston. Anthony’s farewell tour consists of cities with teams that fail to go deep in the playoffs or appreciably improve. Houston was the league’s second best team last season. I’ll be surprised if they are in 2018-19. …

Campbell football coach Mike Minter was in Charlotte for the Big South’s media day. Campbell will move to the Big South this season.

Minter, the former Carolina Panther safety, has quietly advanced the Campbell program since he arrived in 2013. The Camels had only one winning season before he came. Their record, since starting the football program in 2008, was 14-41, and the Fighting Camels went 1-10 the season before Campbell hired Minter. Minter is 24-32, and last season had his first winning season.

When Minter talks, people want to believe him. He has that quality. Campbell will be where Minter starts. It won’t be where he ends.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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