2015 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

Tyler EifertJul 30 03:23p

Cincinnati Bengals TE Tyler Eifert said he is 100% healthy for the first time since the beginning of last offseason.

LeGarrette BlountJul 30 01:22p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was placed on the Non-Football Injury list because he was not able to complete the conditioning test at the start of training camp. [ More ]

Kelvin BenjaminJul 30 01:02p

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin (hamstring) said his hamstrings are fine and that he is 100% healthy entering training camp.

Terrance WestJul 30 12:52p

Cleveland Browns RB Terrance West worked with the first-team offense during team drills Thursday, July 30. Head coach Mike Pettine said several running backs will see time with the starters during training camp.

Trent RichardsonJul 30 10:22a

Oakland Raiders RB Trent Richardson is rumored to being unimpressive with his new team.

Tom BradyJul 30 10:12a

Updating an ongoing story, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's lawsuit was transferred to Manhattan, N.Y., by a Minnesota judge Friday, July 30.

Tom BradyJul 30 09:52a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has filed a lawsuit against the NFL asking a Minnesota federal court for penalties against Brady to be vacated. The suit alleges that [ More ]

Jake LongJul 30 09:42a

Free-agent OT Jake Long (Rams) left his visit with the New York Giants Wednesday, July 29, without a deal. It was his second visit with the team without a [ More ]

Joseph RandleJul 29 08:43p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle received strong praise from team owner and general manager Jerry Jones Wednesday July 29. 'We have a player (in Randle) that has the potential [ More ]

Joique BellJul 29 07:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (undisclosed) was placed on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday, July 29, as he recovers from offseason surgery. It is unclear what the [ More ]

James WrightJul 29 06:43p

Free-agent WR James Wright (Bengals) was placed on Reserve/Injured Wednesday, July 29.

Jordan ReedJul 29 05:43p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (knee) has been cleared for full participation in training camp, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Chase CoffmanJul 29 04:53p

Free-agent TE Chase Coffman (Titans) re-signed with the Tennessee Titans Wednesday, July 29, according to a source.

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 29 04:33p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) can be placed on the Non-Football Injury list if/when he signs his franchise tender. Owner John Mara said the team would like [ More ]

Jason Pierre-PaulJul 29 04:23p

New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (finger) is receiving his own medical treatment and rehabilitation at his home. There is currently no timetable for his return. Pierre-Paul, however, could [ More ]

Roddy WhiteJul 29 03:43p

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White (knee) had his left knee drained before minicamp, and he could have it drained again before the season ends. White isn't concerned about it, [ More ]

Ryan KerriganJul 29 01:43p

Washington Redskins LB Ryan Kerrigan signed a five-year contract extension Wednesday, July 29, worth $11.5 million per season, according to a source. The deal includes a $16 million signing bonus.

Cyrus GrayJul 29 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs RB Cyrus Gray was released Wednesday, July 29.

Carlos HydeJul 29 11:13a

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde is not believed to be injured and shouldn't be on the non-football injury list for long. Hyde suffered a calf injury during spring [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 29 09:23a

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady posted on Facebook that he replaced his broken phone with a new one after his attorneys told the NFL 'my [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 29 01:53a

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady could have had his suspended reduced based on a series of conditions. According to a source with knowledge of [ More ]

Eric BerryJul 29 01:43a

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (illness) has been cleared to take the practice field with the team Wednesday, July 29. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in December [ More ]

Geno SmithJul 28 08:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith could be benched if he struggles early in the season, according to head coach Todd Bowles Tuesday, July 28. 'If you feel that [ More ]

Ryan WilliamsJul 28 05:53p

Dallas Cowboys RB Ryan Williams (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Tuesday, July 28.

Brodrick BunkleyJul 28 05:43p

New Orleans Saints DT Brodrick Bunkley (undisclosed) was released with a failed physical designation Tuesday, July 28.

James WrightJul 28 05:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR James Wright (knee) was waived with an injured designation Tuesday, July 28.

Darrin ReavesJul 28 05:33p

Carolina Panthers RB Darrin Reaves was waived Tuesday, July 28.

Tom BradyJul 28 05:13p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is facing a four-game suspension, but the Patriots have done fairly well without him. In games Brady has missed since he became a [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 28 04:53p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has given permission to the NFL Players Association to appeal his case in federal court, according to a source. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell [ More ]

Lamar MillerJul 28 03:43p

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller may see an increase in carries in 2015, according to head coach Joe Philbin. 'If he's cranking and he got it 24 times a [ More ]

Le'Veon BellJul 28 03:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell's original three-game suspension has been reduced to a two-game suspension Tuesday, July 28.

Tom BradyJul 28 02:53p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension has been upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, July 28.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group