Cam Newton will admit that he is not yet 100 percent after undergoing surgery to tighten some ligaments in his left ankle in March. He said Thursday that he felt "real sluggish" while taking part in seven-on-seven drills during the final day of the Panthers' mandatory minicamp.
But how Newton looked on the field isn't the story. The story is that Newton was on the field in the first place. Newton wasn't expected to be a part of any drills until training camp in late July but gained clearance Wednesday. While Newton doesn't feel like his usual self, he also understands that he is definitely making progress.
"Anytime you can get back and make a step forward, and for me to have the opportunity to do seven-on-seven today is a step forward," Newton said.
Newton was limited to only shotgun snaps and wasn't allowed to move in the pocket.
The Panthers will clear Newton to do more things in camp, and he should be close to full strength when that gets underway. Just 25 years old, we are all aware of Newton's athleticism and rushing ability. If the Panthers know what's good for them, they will try to find more ways to get Newton involved in the running game. They might have no choice unless their receivers come up with some unexpectedly good performances. Can rookie Kelvin Benjamin come in right away and be a consistent contributor? How much longer can Jerricho Cotchery keep Father Time at bay? Those concerns out wide have contributed heavily to Newton falling to No. 10 in our preseason QB rankings.