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Published: May 23, 2011
When he was selected first overall at the 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton knew that he would have to deal with the pressure of being a rookie and proving to the Carolina Panthers that he is the franchise quarterback they need. But even on that April evening in New York City, Newton tried to keep things in perspective.
“I don’t know when that call (to be the starter) is going to happen,” he said. “But each day I’m just going to go out and learn something about the whole offense.”
The brief window of opportunity when the lockout was temporarily lifted allowed Newton to pick up his playbook and he has been wearing out the pages trying to get a head start for whenever the Panthers’ facility doors open for the players. The Heisman Trophy winner has been spending his days down in Florida, but being a beach bum is the furthest thing from his mind.
In place of rookie mini camp, Newton teamed up with former Panther quarterback and fellow Heisman winner Chris Weinke at the IMG Academy for four days. The two hit the books and film room hard for over three hours each day and took the field for nearly the same amount of time.
According to a report on ESPN.com, the throwing sessions are all filmed and analyzed by both Newton and Weinke. This may prove to be invaluable for the not-yet-signed rookie signal caller when things return to normal in the topsy turvy world that is labor unrest in the NFL.
Weinke, 38, was a highly successful collegiate quarterback at Florida State University after giving professional baseball a try. After entering FSU at the age of 25, Weinke led the team to two national championships and took home three major awards in his senior year of 2000 (Heisman Trophy, Johnny Unitas Award and the Davey O’Brien Award). He also had his number 16 jersey retired by the Seminoles.
The Panthers drafted him in the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft and started for a team that finished 1-15. While that may have been a difficult pill to swallow, it certainly taught Weinke a few lessons and something that he can pass on to Newton, who may deal with a similar situation in 2011. For the next five seasons, Weinke was mostly a back-up to Jake Delhomme and spent the 2007 campaign with the San Francisco 49ers before retiring.
While his career stats are not overly impressive (3,904 yards passing, 15 touchdowns, 26 interceptions and a QB rating of 62.2), Weinke has a reputation of being a smart quarterback who had exceptional mechanics. Considering that he played on the same NFL team – and one going through a rebuilding phase – makes Weinke the perfect tutor for Newton.
Photo by Bill Menzel
Tagged with: 2001 Nfl Draft, Beach Bum, Cam Newton, Camp Newton, Carolina Panthers, Chris Weinke, Davey O Brien Award, Espn, Evening In New York, Film Room, Florida State University, Franchise Quarterback, Heisman Trophy Winner, Img Academy, Johnny Unitas, Johnny Unitas Award, Labor Unrest, Nfl Draft, Nfl Lockout, Professional Baseball