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Can You Teach An Old Panther New Tricks?

As the season draws nearer, we all hang on every soundbite, regardless of how meaningful it is. So when it comes to Cam Newton’s recovery from injury and particularly his new throwing motion, how much should we read into it?

Normally it would be quite a concern that an eight year veteran sees a need to develop his throwing motion, and it is somewhat surprising that the Panthers believe that they have successfully changed his throwing motion so far into his career. There is an upside for sure, if Newton is comfortable in his new technique, of course. Newton has two bugbears as a quarterback: injury and accuracy.

The first one is arguably the one that will be more concerning. While Newton is using his new technique now, will it be comfortable if he aggravates his shoulder injury, or even under the pressure of an NFL rush? It will be interesting to see if the Auburn alum does maintain his technique late in the season, particularly if he continues to take heavy hits as a runner. Of course, it is also possible that Newton has developed to using this technique to reduce injury, or at least pain concerns.

In terms of accuracy, Newton’s new technique is surely good news. Norv Turner and co will have focused on Newton using his legs to power through the ball rather than generating all the power in his shoulder. Ultimately Newton’s accuracy leaves a lot to be desired, only surpassing 60% completions twice in eight years. Even in his stunning MVP 2015 season, Cam only managed 59.8% completion percentage. Norv Turner has clearly already had an effect on Newton with by far his most accurate season – 67.9% coming under Turner last year. Another full offseason, albeit impacted by injury, should mean that more of Turner’s fingerprints will be on Cam Newton’s game.

Newton is easily the best QB that Norv Turner has worked with, at least since Phil Rivers at the Chargers, giving the OC his best chance of the offensive explosion we saw from San Diego in the late 2000s.

It’s great to hear that one of the NFL’s most exciting players and fascinating characters is making good progress in his recovery from injury. However, as we have seen this with Kevin Durant yesterday, we won’t truly know if this new technique works until he sees the field. Of course, Newton hasn’t rushed his recovery and Newton’s changes are more about throwing technique and accuracy than injury, but ultimately we all revert to bad habits under pressure.

We’ll find out early if Newton’s changes are permanent with the Panthers facing strong defensive lines in the Rams in week one and Texans in week four. Even then though, the real test will be if he is sticking to the new mechanics when beaten up in December and ultimately I think he is most likely to stick to them if the change prevents pain rather than to improves accuracy.

Image: AL.com

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