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

Chris CantyFeb 27 11:32a

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty was released Friday, Feb. 27. The move saved the team around $2.7 million on the salary cap.

Brian HartlineFeb 27 10:32a

Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Harry DouglasFeb 27 10:32a

Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas was released Friday, Feb. 27.

Matt HasselbeckFeb 26 07:42p

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck was re-signed to a one-year deal Thursday, Feb. 26. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Steven JacksonFeb 26 07:32p

Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson will reportedly be released Friday, Feb. 27.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 05:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension was overturned by U.S. District Judge David S. Doty Thursday, Feb. 26. However, the NFL also announced that they will appeal the ruling, [ More ]

Travis KelceFeb 26 05:42p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, who led the team with 67 catches and 862 receiving yards in 2014, is expected to be a more prominent part of the [ More ]

Kendall LangfordFeb 26 04:12p

St. Louis Rams DT Kendall Langford was released Thursday, Feb. 26, saving the team $6 million in salary cap space.

Greg HardyFeb 26 02:32p

Carolina Panthers impending free-agent DE Greg Hardy will seek immediate reinstatement after a judge overturned Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension, according to a source.

Theo RiddickFeb 26 02:22p

Detroit Lions RB Theo Riddick likely will be given the chance to earn a bigger role in the offense next season after the team released RB Reggie Bush.

Adrian PetersonFeb 26 12:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension has been overturned after a judge granted a motion from the NFL Players Association to vacate the suspension.

Michael RoosFeb 26 12:02p

Free-agent OT Michael Roos (Titans) has announced his retirement from professional football.

Dez BryantFeb 26 09:03a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is likely to receive the franchise tag because the team is hesitant to sign him long term due to a lack of trust off [ More ]

Peyton ManningFeb 25 09:23p

The Denver Broncos and representatives for QB Peyton Manning are working on revising the veteran's contract, according to multiple league sources. He is scheduled to draw a $19 million [ More ]

Reggie BushFeb 25 05:33p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush has been cut Wednesday, Feb. 25.

A.J. HawkFeb 25 04:43p

Green Bay Packers LB A.J. Hawk was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move will save them $3.5 million against the salary cap in 2015.

Jacoby JonesFeb 25 12:33p

Baltimore Ravens WR Jacoby Jones was released Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Peyton HillisFeb 25 10:43a

New York Giants RB Peyton Hillis was released Wednesday, Feb. 25. The move saves $945,000 on the 2015 salary cap.

Dez BryantFeb 24 10:33p

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant's NFL career could be in jeopardy if a video he allegedly appears is as bad as it sounds. A source said the 'incriminating video [ More ]

Jake LongFeb 24 09:23p

The St. Louis Rams are likely to release OT Jake Long this offseason for savings against the salary cap, according to beat writer Nick Wagoner.

Mathias KiwanukaFeb 24 03:33p

New York Giants DE Mathias Kiwanuka has been released Tuesday, Feb. 24.

DeAngelo WilliamsFeb 24 12:23p

Free-agent RB DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) said he was not upset when the Carolina Panthers told him last week that he'd be released. Williams told Charlotte's WBTV that DE Greg [ More ]

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's father denied a report that Peterson no longer wants to play for Minnesota. Peterson's father said Peterson is still open to a return to [ More ]

Ted Ginn Jr.Feb 23 04:53p

Arizona Cardinals WR Ted Ginn Jr. was released Monday, Feb. 23.

Adrian PetersonFeb 23 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's situation with the team worsened during the NFL scouting combine as his agent and members of Minnesota's front office had a heated verbal altercation, [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 21 10:22a

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) looks good as he continues to recover from a torn right pateller tendon in his knee, according to general manager Jerry Reese. [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIFeb 20 02:52p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will enter the 2015 season as the team's starting quarterback, and general manager Bruce Allen thinks Griffin's ceiling in the NFL remains high. [ More ]

Devonta FreemanFeb 20 08:42a

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman fits well in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme, according to head coach Dan Quinn. 'My first impression: I can feel the quickness,' Quinn said [ More ]

Victor CruzFeb 19 07:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) may commence running shortly, according to head coach Tom Coughlin. Cruz is recovering from a torn right patellar tendon in his right knee.

Andre EllingtonFeb 19 05:12p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington (foot) remains the focal point of the offense, according to Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Ellington split the injured tendon in his left foot, [ More ]

C.J. AndersonFeb 19 02:22p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson finished the year as the team's No. 1 running back and made the Pro Bowl, but new head coach Gary Kubiak said Anderson must [ More ]

James CaseyFeb 19 02:22p

Philadelphia Eagles TE James Casey has been released.

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