Other than a few surprise turns in 7-on-7s, Cam Newton was physically limited through OTAs and minicamp.
But the growth he’s showing in the mental game impressed his boss.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said his quarterback has shown a remarkable grasp of the offense this offseason.
“Over the last 10 weeks, we’re seeing Cam maturing, and doing things in other ways to contribute and improve,” Rivera said, via Albert Breer of NFL.com. “It got to the point where Cam was installing things. He led the meetings. He was sitting with the receivers, the tight ends and helping them, not just standing next to [offensive coordinator Mike Shula]. You see stuff now you didn’t see before.”
That kind of growth will be essential, as Newton will have to overcome issues he didn’t have to deal with in the past. They’re sticking with an unproven group of competitors for the left tackle job, and have a bunch of question marks at wide receiver.
Throw in the ankle surgery that limited him to mental reps, and there’s more pressure on Newton than ever.
“I think it’s great when a guy can manage a game,” Rivera said. “But there comes a point where you have to make a play. He does that. He made some great plays, he had some teammates make great catches, great runs. But he’s the trigger guy, and that’s part of his growth. . . .
“The one thing you don’t ever want to do is put it all on one guy. That becomes hard. We want him to sense it — It’s time to make a play.”
The Panthers still have an exceptional defensive front seven, and enough help at running back to keep things balanced. But Newton is going to have to make plays on his own in the passing game, and they’re confident with the steps he’s taken, he’ll be able to.