SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Cam Newton admittedly couldn’t throw more than 30 yards at the end of last season due to a sore right shoulder, so two completions of 40-plus yards in the first practice of training camp was a positive sign for the Carolina Panthers‘ ninth-year quarterback.
“He’s healthy and ready to go,” quarterbacks coach Scott Turner said Thursday night. “He looked good. We will look at the film, but I felt good about it.”
In January, Newton underwent shoulder surgery for the second time in three offseasons after being shut down for the final two games of the 2018 season. This surgery was not as involved as the one in 2017, which repaired a partially torn rotator cuff. Doctors used an arthroscopic procedure to clean up scar tissue that was causing severe soreness.
Newton said at the time he felt immediate relief.
When players reported to Wofford College on Wednesday, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Newton would be on a pitch count early in camp. Turner said Newton, 30, took on a normal load Thursday, throwing about 40 passes during team and individual drills.
“If we were doing something like where we were in a two-minute [drill] or something where it was a lot, maybe we’d cut back, but today, if you watched our first practice from training camp last year, it would be pretty much the same, exact number,” Turner said.
“Whoever is open he’s throwing him ball,” Turner said. “There are no limitations. He is out here practicing like any of our people.”
Newton was not as flamboyant as he normally is in the first practice at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium. He did not ham it up with the crowd during down time for the quarterbacks as much as he has in past years.
He put all of his energy into staying loose and focused, and appeared most excited about the long passes that became a struggle for him during the second half of last season.
Newton did not speak with the media afterward, but others on the team had plenty to say.
“Everything we’ve been told and everything we saw pointed toward him being ready to go,” Rivera said. “It did a lot for not just us, but it did a lot for him, just uncorking one like that.”
Added tight end Greg Olsen, who is coming off his second foot surgery in two years: “For the first night it was what everyone was hoping for.”
Having Newton back on the field healthy brought energy to the team and the crowd, which watched the Panthers lose seven straight after a 6-2 start in 2018.
“He’s just happy to be out here with his guys again playing and healthy and feel comfortable doing it,” Turner said. “I do not worry about Cam’s confidence too much.
“I said after practice, ‘Hey, it’s good to have you back.’ He said, ‘It’s great to be back.”’