Carolina Panthers

Panthers are right to protect Cam Newton from himself

Cam Newton’s health is the key to the Panthers season. That’s why Carolina officials are smart to keep their star quarterback on a pitch count.

The Panthers were 6-2 last season when Cam Newton went down with an injured shoulder. They limped to an 8-8 finish without their dynamic quarterback. Needless to say, Carolina officials have a lot of incentive to keep Newton healthy this year.

That’s exactly why the former Auburn star will start the preseason on what head coach Ron Rivera is calling a “pitch count.” The idea will be for the organization to pay special attention to how many stressful throws Newton makes during team drills. They don’t want to wait until Newton feels some pain to put his arm on ice. The idea is to make sure he never gets anywhere near the point where he’d feel discomfort in his injured shoulder.

With all that said, Rivera did make a special point to say that he believes Newton is “ready to roll” heading into training camp. That’s good news for Panthers fans. Rivera’s words mean that he’s probably seen some high-level throws from Newton in the early going. At this point in the NFL calendar, it’s more important for Newton to flash that ability than it is for him to prove he can do it 45 times on a given Sunday.

It will be particularly interesting to see how Newton reacts to his newfound limitations. He certainly isn’t the brash players who entered the NFL with no fear, but he’s still a guy who will want to be a full participant in everything his teammates do. It won’t be easy for Carolina’s coaching staff to keep Newton from trying to do too much, too soon. In this instance, Newton’s competitive spirit might work against him.

Fans shouldn’t be concerned unless Newton’s activity doesn’t start to ramp up as the regular season approaches. The Panthers should be in a position to gradually increase Newton’s workload as the preseason chugs along. If Newton isn’t handling a full workload by the time the third preseason game rolls along, it will be time for Panthers fans to be alarmed.

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For the time being, the Panthers are doing the right thing with their most important player. Newton doesn’t need a ton of preseason reps to get ready for the regular season. He knows the offense inside and out. Health is much more important than practice at this stage of Newton’s career. Fortunately, the Panthers are aware of that fact.

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