CAM NEWTON, Quarterback
Was there a preseason weekend when Newton's performance wasn't one of the first story lines on your mind? The 2010 Heisman winner and national champion is used to being the center of attention, as he was in one of the first practices of training camp, when he rolled out in an 11-on-11 scrimmage and looked for a receiver running a deep post. As offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski watched, hoping his rookie quarterback would let the play develop, the 6'5", 244-pound Newton tucked the ball under his arm and with a juke of the hips ran untouched for 30 yards. "Can't account for that," Chudzinski said to coach Ron Rivera.
The Panthers will have to learn to be patient with Newton and hope for positive results. At Auburn last year he threw the ball 280 times and ran it 264 (for 1,473 yards). With that kind of success as a rusher, Newton can't just flip the switch and become a pocket passer exclusively. "He's so impressive physically, and you don't want to take away what he's great at doing," says Rivera. "But he knows he's not going to run as much as he throws. He's been terrific at learning a little bit at a time and translating it onto the field." Look for Chudzinski to make game plans skinnier in 2011. And look for Newton to learn on the fly, even while he remains comfortable on the ground.