<
>

Ron Rivera: Cam Newton 'can be a force whether he's practicing or not'

play
Cam needs to find McCaffrey on check-downs (1:06)

Tedy Brushci breaks down why Cam Newton needs to utilize his entire receiving core this season, not just the usual suspects. (1:06)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Anybody that knows Cam Newton knows he likes to be in the middle of things.

So even though the Carolina Panthers quarterback can’t throw until training camp as he rehabs from rotator cuff surgery, he more than makes up for it in organized team activities with his energy.

From dancing to slinging a water bottle over his head to running about 50 yards to hip bump Austin Duke after the undrafted rookie caught a deep pass, the 2015 NFL MVP made his presence known on Thursday.

“Even though he’s not involved, he brings some energy to us,’’ coach Ron Rivera said after the Panthers completed their third day on the field. “You know him, he can be a force whether he’s practicing or not.’’

Newton remains on target to begin throwing with the team when training camp opens in late July in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Until then, he’ll continue to do footwork and conditioning drills, and stay heavily involved in the offense as it evolves to depend less on him as a runner.

“He’s getting a lot of work in,’’ Rivera said. “He’s been behind the offense, so he’s getting a chance to see everything.

“He’s got the mic on, so he’s hearing what the calls are. He gets to see things from a different perspective.’’

Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil has no concern that Newton will be ready for training camp.

“He’ll be back in full swing,’’ Kalil said of Newton. “It feels a lot like his first year with the lockout. We’ll get him when we get into training camp and we’ll get after it. That worked out pretty well.’’

Well is relative.

The Panthers had a 6-10 record during Newton’s first season in 2011. But statistically Newton was spectacular, breaking Peyton Manning’s rookie record with 4,051 yards passing.

As for the offense evolving to depend less on Newton as a runner to preserve his long-term future, Kalil gave it a slightly different twist than what Rivera has said since the end of last season.

He reminded that the Panthers have a “tremendous’’ back in Jonathan Stewart and now a “quick guy’’ in first-round pick Christian McCaffrey. He reminded that the Panthers pride themselves on being a run-based team.

“Regardless of Cam and how many runs he’ll have, we’ll see,’’ Kalil said. “There’s nothing definitive. I know that’s the word going around in the papers, but it’s not like we got together and had a meeting and said we’re going to lower the reps that Cam takes.

“The best plays on the field is what we’re going to run to win football games. So whether that’s Cam running or not, whether that’s Stew, whether it’s McCaffrey, whoever that is, that’s what we’re going to do.’’

But for now Newton will limit his running to meeting teammates for hip bumps.