Stories emerged yesterday that Cam Newton was throwing to “non-Panther” receivers. Cam was at an Under Armour event in Baltimore and tossed the ball around with the likes of Randall Cobb and Torrey Smith. Also there, most notably, was Kelvin Benjamin who seems to be everywhere Cam is these days.
I found the tone of the stories I read to be all wrong. Among what I read were ideas along the lines of wishful thinking from Cam because these two “non-Panther” receivers are perceived to be better than the ones Cam will be throwing to when the season starts this year.
I think all that is ridiculous and nothing to put any thought into. News flash: Cam did this exact same thing in Hawaii when he was playing in the Pro Bowl. Randall Cobb and Torrey Smith were most likely also invited to the same Under Armor event and it was only natural for these professional men to exercise some of their professional skills while in attendance.
There are two important things to note from the story, and everything else from the story should be taken with a grain of salt.
1. Cam Newton is throwing the ball. He is on the field and moving around and putting the ball in the air. This isn’t a shock because he recently took the field on the final day of training camp. Nevertheless, it is a sign of continued progress that can offer comfort to Panther fans concerned about his recovery. He wouldn’t do anything reckless to throw his recovery into jeopardy and his nonchalance about tossing the ball at this event should be seen as nothing more than a good sign that everything is on target for him to be at 100% come the start of training camp.
2. Kelvin Benjamin is at Newton’s side at another throwing session. Now this is the most important one. Among these receivers was Kelvin Benjamin as he and Cam continue working on the chemistry he has yet to share with a receiver during his pro career.
The relationship developing between our franchise quarterback and our number one pick bears significance that cannot be overlooked. We have watched Cam Newton grow over the past three seasons but this has been one facet we have yet to see from him, and it may be the most important. Cam has faced criticism before by being a bit of a loner in the past. Working out away from the team and sitting on the bench by himself doing his Michael Jordan impression.
Now we are beginning to see something different and it suggests great things to come.
Chemistry among players is an intangible of the game that never shows up on paper but it can be the difference between winning and losing when game day hits. Players that believe in one another will fight for one another and when that fight gets started they are capable of doing things nobody will see coming.
The decision to let go of Steve Smith was one that all Panther fans took to heart and there is no question that it hurt. Smith was an incredible player with a fire and drive that has been unmatched in our franchise. Nevertheless the news of the relationship brewing between Cam and Kelvin is a clear indicator that GM Dave Gettleman made the right decision.
The truth is that as much as we loved him, and regardless what he still had left to offer, that as long as Steve Smith was still a Panther the team would be his. Wide receivers don’t lead teams to championships the quarterbacks do. The release was an unfortunate decision and it will be painful to see our beloved Smith donning purple instead of blue, but in time, we will see it was the right decision.
Arguably we are already seeing it because Cam has undoubtedly taken a step up to be the team leader. He has taken it upon himself to be more vocal at practices and is welcoming his newest weapon with open arms. There have been many stories written about the relationship developing between the two and that is something we should all be excited about. Benjamin being with him at this event only gives more credence to the notion that they have been attached at the hip lately.
We have seen Cam succeed already without chemistry amongst his offensive peers, but thinking about how much better he can be with proper chemistry is something to get excited about. So when you put any thought to the story about Cam throwing the ball to “non-Panther” receivers the only thing you need to note is that Benjamin was there too and what that means.
The more time these guys spend together the deeper their bond will go and that bond will translate to good things on the football field. Despite what anybody says in these months leading up to the season we have a lot to look forward to from the Panthers this year.