NFL: Cam is Panthers' obvious choice at QB
By Scott Adamson
Scripps Howard News Service
CHARLOTTE — It was obvious, wasn’t it?
The minute Cam Newton and Roger Goodell stood side-by-side at the NFL Draft — with Newton holding up a Panthers jersey and Goodell holding up a fake smile — Carolina had a new starting quarterback.
Coach Ron Rivera couldn’t say so at the time, of course. And he hasn’t directly said so yet.
But unless Newton retires or gets injured, he’ll be the No. 1 quarterback when the Panthers open the regular season against Arizona next month. And he’ll remain the starting quarterback until and unless he proves beyond a reasonable doubt he can’t get the job done.
Newton played three quarters of the exhibition against Cincinnati, but Rivera warned folks not to assume that means Newton has locked up the top spot.
“We’re still in the evaluation process,” he said. “The biggest thing we have to do is evaluate the situation and see how he handles the whole game week preparation.”
It’s hard not to read between the lines.
The Panthers didn’t draft Newton to shine the bench with his backside. And it’s not like he came into camp having to overtake future hall of famers.
Injuries and mediocre play combined to limit Matt Moore’s playing time (and playing days) in the Queen City, and Jimmy Clausen neither won friends nor influenced people during his rookie year at Carolina in 2010.
And he certainly didn’t secure the starting job behind center, throwing just three touchdown passes against nine interceptions.
Throw in the oft-injured Tony Pike and journeyman Derek Anderson, and the quarterback position was there for the taking.
And Newton has taken it; it’s up to him whether or not he gives it away.
“I feel like I’m doing better than I did a week ago and I think I’m making positive steps,” Newton said after an earlier loss to Miami. “I’m not going to worry about who’s the starting quarterback, I’m just going to worry about getting better. I’m just going to keep looking at film and figuring out what I need to do to get better.”
Although he hasn’t quite shown the superhuman abilities so many have expected of him, the Heisman Trophy winner has most definitely displayed the tools necessary to play professional football.
Until he starts playing games that count no one will know whether or not Newton has provided a needed upgrade at the QB slot.
Yet based on how he’s practiced — and what the other quarterbacks in camp have shown — making Newton the opening day starter is no surprise at all.
In fact, it’s quite obvious.
(Contact Scott Adamson of the Anderson Independent-Mail in Anderson, S.C., at http://www.independentmail.com/staff/scott-adamso
The Associated Press