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

Tharold SimonOct 20 11:04p

Seattle Seahawks CB Tharold Simon (ankle) and CB Byron Maxwell (calf) may be able to play in Week 7, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

A.J. GreenOct 20 10:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green (toe) said he will play Sunday, Oct. 26, against the Baltimore Ravens, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Marcus GilbertOct 20 10:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert (concussion) is out for the remainder of the team's Week 7 game after being diagnosed with a concussion.

Ahmad BradshawOct 20 08:43p

Indianapolis Colts RB Ahmad Bradshaw is on pace for a combined 215 rushes and receptions and 1,753 total yards this season.

Devier PoseyOct 20 07:13p

The Houston Texans have declared CB Darryl Morris, WR DeVier Posey, LB Jadeveon Clowney, OT Jeff Adams, S Josh Aubrey, CB Jumal Rolle, QB Tom Savage inactive for Week 7.

Kapri BibbsOct 20 07:13p

Denver Broncos RB Kapri Bibbs was attracting interest from other teams on the practice squad, and the Broncos elevated him to their active roster because they didn't want to [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 20 07:08p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) is expected to be put through a rigorous workout Wednesday, Oct. 22, that will give team officials a better idea of where [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 20 07:07p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) could start in Week 8 against the Dallas Cowboys if he looks really good in practice Wednesday, Oct. 22, according to a [ More ]

Ike TaylorOct 20 07:03p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, LB Ryan Shazier, SS Shamarko Thomas, DL Steve McLendon inactive for Week 7.

Jadeveon ClowneyOct 20 07:03p

Houston Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney (knee) will not play in Week 7 because his lateral movement is not where the team wants it to be.

Kapri BibbsOct 20 06:53p

The Denver Broncos signed practice squad RB Kapri Bibbs to their active roster Monday, Oct. 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Daniel KilgoreOct 20 06:53p

San Francisco 49ers C Daniel Kilgore (leg) will miss the rest of the season after suffering a broken bone in his left leg during the team's Week 7 game. [ More ]

Zach MillerOct 20 06:43p

Seattle Seahawks TE Zach Miller (ankle) will not be able to play in Week 8.

Derrick ColemanOct 20 06:23p

Seattle Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman (foot) will miss at least six weeks because of a foot injury he suffered in Week 7.

Usama YoungOct 20 06:23p

Oakland Raiders FS Usama Young (knee) will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn medial collateral ligament in Week 7, according to a source.

S. RichardsonOct 20 06:13p

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Shaquille Richardson (undisclosed) was released from the practice squad injured list with an injury settlement Monday, Oct. 20.

Rey MaualugaOct 20 06:03p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) is expected to miss a few weeks because of his hamstring injury.

Chris SmithOct 20 06:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars LB Chris Smith was signed from the practice squad to the active roster Monday, Oct. 20.

Tom CrabtreeOct 20 06:03p

The New Orleans Saints re-signed TE Tom Crabtree to their active roster Monday, Oct. 20.

Vontaze BurfictOct 20 05:53p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (neck) did not suffer a concussion in the team's Week 7 game but did suffer a neck injury, according to a team official. Burfict [ More ]

Gerell RobinsonOct 20 05:53p

Carolina Panthers DB Robert Lester, Cleveland Browns TE Gerell Robinson, Dallas Cowboys DT Ken Bishop and LB Korey Toomer and Miami Dolphins DT Deandre Coleman cleared waivers and became [ More ]

Brandon CarrOct 20 05:43p

Dallas Cowboys CB Brandon Carr (hamstring) strained his hamstring in Week 7 against the New York Giants. Carr still played every defensive snap and should be able to play [ More ]

Austin PettisOct 20 05:43p

The St. Louis Rams waived WR Austin Pettis Monday, Oct. 20.

Vincent JacksonOct 20 05:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson's name came up over the weekend in reports that the team was fielding phone calls from interested teams, but head coach Lovie Smith [ More ]

Manti Te'oOct 20 05:23p

San Diego Chargers LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring), CB Brandon Flowers (concussion) and LB Manti Te'o (foot) did not participate in practice Monday, Oct. 20. CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and [ More ]

Matt RyanOct 20 05:23p

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan was sacked five times as the team's offensive line continues to struggle with injuries and poor play. 'We had way too much pressure,' head [ More ]

T.J. WardOct 20 05:03p

Denver Broncos CB Omar Bolden (concussion), LB Steven Johnson (ankle) didn't practice Monday, Oct. 20. S Quinton Carter (hamstring), CB Chris Harris Jr. (knee), RB Juwan Thompson (knee) and [ More ]

Cullen JenkinsOct 20 05:03p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) has a strained calf and is expected to miss at least two weeks.

Jake LockerOct 20 05:03p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (thumb) is scheduled to throw Tuesday, Oct. 21, and the team will see how he responds Wednesday, Oct. 21.

Brian HoyerOct 20 04:53p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer is still the team's starting quarterback even though he struggled in Week 7, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Ahtyba RubinOct 20 04:43p

Cleveland Browns DE Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) received a second option on his injured ankle. Head coach Mike Pettine said surgery for Rubin has not been ruled out.

Jason VerrettOct 20 04:43p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) missed his second game of the year in Week 7 with a shoulder injury, and his absence hurt the team in space against the Kansas City Chiefs.

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