2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Newton looks to take next step in development

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2012-05-24 19:05

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - As Cam Newton galloped on to the practice field flashing that contagious smile, his teammates fell in line behind him for the start of drills.

Their leader had arrived.

The multi-talented quarterback who took the NFL by storm a year ago, earning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, appears ready to take on a bigger role this year with the Carolina Panthers - even if he's unwilling to admit it.

Newton remains cognizant of the veteran players around him and steered clear of drawing attention to himself when asked if he now views this as ``his team.''

``It's a lot of people's team,'' he said.

But to those in and around the organization, it's pretty clear Newton is quickly turning into the leader of this franchise and the guy capable of taking the Panthers to the next level after a 6-10 finish last season - a four-game improvement over the year before.

Rather than declare himself a leader, Newton prefers to keep his head down and lead through his actions.

``The playmakers are going to have to make plays; the leaders are going to have lead - if you have to ask yourself what you are, you're neither,'' said Newton. ``So I think it's kind of a given who the leaders on this team are.''

Coach Ron Rivera has seen Newton take on a leadership role through the way he's interacted with teammates and encouraged them during offseason conditioning drills.

``He's really maturing and becoming what you hope for in your starting quarterback,'' Rivera said. ``You're seeing a continued evolution based on what happened at the end of last year.''

After suffering through a glut of injuries on defense early last season, the Panthers rallied to win four of their final six games.

That's provided plenty of optimism heading into this season.

The former Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn is a big reason for that.

He became the first player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards and run for 500 last season and broke Peyton Manning's rookie record for yards passing in a season with 4,051. On top of that he proved to be one of most dangerous players in the game by rushing for 14 touchdowns - the most ever by an NFL quarterback.

It makes you wonder what Newton can accomplish with an actual offseason to prepare for the regular season.

That's a luxury he didn't have last year.

Because of the NFL lockout, he and other rookies didn't get a chance to practice with their new teammates until late July.

``Last year I was just working out (in the spring) with a couple of pages from the playbook to go by and that's it,'' Newton said. ``It's nothing like having an organized team function that you can talk to your coaches and ask them about the things that are going to make you a better player. To come out here every day and get some reps, mental or physical, is huge.''

There's a school of thought that top-notch NFL defensive coordinators - as well as players - will catch up to Newton after an offseason studying him on tape.

Rivera disagrees.

He thinks Newton's success will ultimately be determined by the supporting cast around him.

``Everyone wants to say `Hey, Cam is going to have a sophomore slump' or `They're going to have tape on your offense,' well you know what, other people have to step up, too,'' Rivera said.

A year ago, the Panthers averaged 25.4 points to per game, fifth-best in the league. They improved 25 spots in total offense, going from 32nd to seventh overall.

In Newton's eyes there's plenty of room for improvement.

``That's the recipe, trying to find a way to put up more points and making it easier for us,'' Newton said. ``We understand the defense is going to be 100 percent healthy and that's not going to be an excuse this year. As an offense we can only control what we can control. Executing the play that coach calls and knowing our assignments.''

The Panthers lost defensive tackle Ron Edwards in his first practice of training camp last summer. That proved to be a foreshadowing of things to come as linebackers Jon Beason (torn Achilles) and Thomas Davis (torn ACL) suffered season-ending injuries in the first two games.

Beason and Davis were back on the practice field Thursday, participating on a limiting basis. Rivera expects Beason will be full-go when training camp arrives and Davis will work in gradually.

``The nicks and bruises are in the past and everybody is fixed up,'' Newton said. ``We need the leadership of the guys that were hurt.''

And the Panthers will need Newton's leadership, too.

Even if he's not quite ready to admit it.

``People will gravitate to who's been making plays and who's accountable and who puts a lot on their plate to make plays,'' Newton said. ``So I think leadership will rise to the top.''

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Frankie HammondAug 27 10:42p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Frankie Hammond Jr. is likely to start in place of suspended WR Dwayne Bowe in Week 1.

Derek CarrAug 27 10:40p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr appears firmly entrenched as the primary backup quarterback behind starter QB Matt Schaub (elbow), even though QB Matt McGloin has posted the best numbers of the preseason.

Wes WelkerAug 27 10:31p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) made another positive step Tuesday, Aug. 26, in his recovery from another concussion, according to head coach John Fox. Welker has still not [ More ]

Matt SchaubAug 27 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Matt Schaub (elbow) will be the team's starting quarterback in Week 1 against the New York Jets assuming his elbow is better and he can get [ More ]

Timothy WrightAug 27 10:23p

The New England Patriots really like TE Timothy Wright, acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for OL Logan Mankins. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport even considers him as the team's 'new' [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIAug 27 09:43p

Washington Redskins QBs Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins aren't involved in any kind of quarterback controversy, according to head coach Jay Gruden. The first-team offense has yet to [ More ]

Nate FreeseAug 27 09:27p

Detroit Lions PK Nate Freese has won the kicker job, because the team has released PK Giorgio Tavecchio.

Kory SheetsAug 27 06:53p

Oakland Raiders FS Larry Asante (undisclosed), WR Greg Jenkins (undisclosed) and RB Kory Sheets (undisclosed) all were placed on the team's Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Aug. 27.

John PotterAug 27 06:43p

The Miami Dolphins placed PK John Potter (hip) on the Reserved/Injured list Thursday, Aug. 27.

Matt JohnsonAug 27 06:33p

The Dallas Cowboys placed TE Jordan Najvar (undisclosed), S Matt Johnson (hamstring), CB Justin Green (undisclosed), LB DeVonte Holloman (neck) and CB Johnny X. Thomas (undisclosed) were all placed [ More ]

L. WestbrooksAug 27 06:23p

The Cincinnati Bengals placed LB J.K. Schaffer (concussion) and CB Lavelle Westbrooks (thumb) on the Reserve/Injured list.

D.C. JeffersonAug 27 06:23p

Carolina Panthers TE D.C. Jefferson (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Wes WelkerAug 27 06:03p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) has been ruled out of the team's final preseason game Thursday, Aug. 27, but has been exercising and will travel with the team.

Tim BenfordAug 27 05:23p

Dallas Cowboys waived WR Tim Benford Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Wes WelkerAug 27 05:13p

Denver Broncos WR Wes Welker (concussion) has not been cleared to practice at this point but is making good progress.

Jemea ThomasAug 27 05:03p

The Dallas Cowboys claimed S Jemea Thomas (Patriots) off waivers Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Tandon DossAug 27 05:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Ace Sanders (personal) and WR Tandon Doss (ankle) may be able to play in the final preseason game after missing the first three preseason games. Head [ More ]

Josh ScobeeAug 27 04:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars PK Josh Scobee (quadriceps) said he is not sure if will be able to play Week 1 because of his quadriceps injury. PK Kasey Redfern may make [ More ]

D.J. HaydenAug 27 04:33p

Oakland Raiders CB D.J. Hayden (foot) is considered a few weeks away from returning to practice, according to head coach Dennis Allen. Allen said he expects Hayden will be [ More ]

Richard MarshallAug 27 04:23p

San Diego Chargers CB Richard Marshall has been working at safety because of the injury to SS Jahleel Addae (hamstring). Marshall's versatility could help him make the final roster.

Ryan McBeanAug 27 03:53p

The Arizona Cardinals cut DE Ryan McBean Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Tommy KellyAug 27 03:43p

Arizona Cardinals DT Tommy Kelly agreed to terms on a one-year contract Wednesday, Aug. 27. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Josh GordonAug 27 03:03p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon's representatives are considering a lawsuit against the NFL which could seek an injunction to put the suspension on hold until the legal process takes [ More ]

Pierre DesirAug 27 02:43p

The Cleveland Browns may consider placing CB Pierre Desir (knee) on the Active/Reserve/Injured list, which would keep him out for at least eight weeks of the season.

Phillip TannerAug 27 01:53p

The Dallas Cowboys will sign free-agent RB Phillip Tanner (Colts), according to sources.

Josh GordonAug 27 01:43p

Updating previous reports, Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be allowed to apply for reinstatement after the 2014 season and not after a full calendar year.

Josh GordonAug 27 01:23p

Updating previous reports, Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will not be allowed at the team's facility during his one-year suspension. The team hoped they would be able to work with him during the suspension.

Zach ErtzAug 27 01:13p

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz is expected to be more involved in the passing game this season and has shown the confidence to be a solid pass catcher, according [ More ]

Josh GordonAug 27 01:03p

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will not be allowed to file for reinstatement during his one-year suspension, according to a source. His representatives will look [ More ]

Josh GordonAug 27 12:53p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be suspended for the 2014 season after his appeal of the suspension was denied, according to a source.

Cam NewtonAug 27 12:43p

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (rib) said he fully expects to be ready to play Week 1.

Rob GronkowskiAug 27 12:13p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (knee) continues to make progress in his rehab but likely will sit out the final preseason game. Gronkowski is looking to be ready [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group