In May, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said that he wanted to be a team captain.
Coach Ron Rivera announced Thursday that Newton got what he wanted when he announced the names of the team’s six captains. Newton’s name was on the list and Rivera said he likes the way Newton is developing.
“I’m excited about who he’s becoming,” Rivera said, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “Last year, you could see he was growing. Cam is still growing, but he’s also a little more mature, a little more comfortable, a little more savvy. He’s learned a lot of things, and he can do those things that can help us, that can give us an opportunity to win football games.”
While there have been questions and criticisms about his leadership, the biggest obstacle to Newton becoming captain seemed to be the presence of tackle Jordan Gross and wide receiver Steve Smith. Newton was able to move into the role without displacing either one, however, because Rivera changed the way the team picked its captains this year. Instead of having five captains, Rivera went with the league-maximum of six, and named the team’s six leading vote-getters regardless of position rather than having two from the offense, two from the defense and one from special teams.
Center Ryan Kalil, linebacker Thomas Davis and linebacker Luke Kuechly are the other captains.