After a solid offseason, Panthers fans have got the best news so far as we head into June: Cam Newton is back throwing, crucially a full-sized football with no limitations. Prior to this week, Newton had not thrown a football overhand – in front of the media anyway.
After a second arthroscopic procedure in less than two years, there was legitimate concern for the Auburn alum’s long-term future, especially with the beating that he takes as a 6’5″, 111kg running threat, taking more contact than most QBs, and that is when the offensive line is keeping a clean pocket. The Panthers only need to look to Newton’s successor as number one pick, Andrew Luck, for a horror story in how serious shoulder injuries can be, having missed half of 2015, playing 2016 injured and then missing the whole of 2017 as he recovered his throwing shoulder. The Panthers desperately want to avoid that, and need to rely less on him in the running game to protect him as an asset long term.
No doubt there is still more progress to be made – and it was reported that Newton was doing extra workouts on the sideline to strengthen his shoulder – but this is definitely a positive sign for the Panthers. Crucially Newton will get a full preseason. There aren’t any major offensive additions, the most high profile being rookies Greg Little and Jordan Scarlett, though neither are slated to be fulltime starters, but it is always beneficial to have a full preseason together for a Quarterback to develop a rhythm with his offensive line and skill position players. Ultimately, the Panthers will be glad that it appears they won’t be facing a race to get Newton healthy for week one.
If Newton does experience any setbacks, the Panthers have safeguarded against it, drafting Will Grier in the third round, the first QB drafted by Carolina since Newton. But he is just that, a safeguard, the Panthers are not banking on Grier, a developmental prospect, seeing the field this season.
Carolina can’t afford to rush Cam Newton back and flare up previous injuries, and the latest surgery is confirmation that they need to protect Newton moreas a pocket passer, without making him a one dimensional threat. That being said, to have a full mini-camp and preseason with Newton under centre is better than the franchise hoped for and gives the Panthers the prep they need to mount a challenge in the NFC South. While Will Grier is an interesting prospect, he isn’t ready to lead the Panthers on a playoff charge and Carolina will be relieved that it appears that they won’t need to rely on their third round rookie. Whether Cam Newton will be fit for a full season is another matter entirely.