Cam Newton won’t make the same mistake he did last year.
The Panthers quarterback admitted in an interview with Peter King for “Football Morning In America,” he shouldn’t have pushed himself to play through his nagging shoulder injury last season but wanted to prove he was capable of leading his team.
On the other hand, it could be argued the decision ultimately backfired.
“As a quarterback in this league,” Newton said, “you’re unanimously the leader, right? We needed that game. I felt as if I wanted to give my team everything that I had honestly.
“Being hurt, being injured … looking back at it, it probably wasn’t the smartest, efficient thing, knowing that I left it all out there on the field. And if you asked me if I’d do it again, I’d do it again. I just know my worth to this team, know how much these guys believe in me and how much I believe in them. If I’m willing to do that, and I know I’ve seen other guys do the same thing, too.”
After a promising 6-2 start, the Panthers stumbled to a 7-9 finish, though Newton completed a career-high 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,385 passing yards and 24 touchdowns with 13 interceptions before being shut down for the final two games of the regular season. He underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right shoulder in January.
While he understands injuries are part of both the game and the aging process, Newton, who turned 30 in May, is still optimistic about his career progression for other reasons.
“You can look back at any type of player,” Newton said. “You can look back at any type of sport and as a player grows, your game has to change. I remember reading and seeing a lot of clips about Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Brett Favre, even Peyton Manning to a degree. When you get old, you have to change certain things. It kind of keeps you young.
“I actually look forward to it. I embrace this whole process because it’s made me feel like a rookie again. Learning certain things, learning new mechanics, focusing on the little nuances of playing a quarterback position and trying to master it. So at this point in my career, it’s not about velocity. It’s not about throwing a ball 70 yards. It’s about efficient football that’s gonna win football games.”
Newton has resumed throwing since the team opened training camp last week and has been throwing long passes, part of his game that was noticeably absent last season.