Panthers get slimmed-down Newton, playbook in 2013

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is bigger than your typical NFL quarterback. And while his size is one of his, well — biggest advantages — he decided to slim up a bit this off-season.

Meeting with the local media for the first time since the 2012 season ended, the 6-foot-5 Newton revealed he has lost 12 pounds, going from 255 to 243.

“It was just a personal goal that I set for myself,” Newton said this week. “Being that I lost the weight, nobody really could tell. It’s just me challenging myself to have an edge going into the season.”

Newton didn’t want to go into specifics about why he shed the weight but said it wasn’t in response to his overall health or his play on the field. And while the new Newton may be slightly more streamlined, he’s not concerned about getting into a hypothetical competition of becoming the fastest quarterback in the NFL.

Asked about the claim made by Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick last week on The Dan Patrick Show that, even at age 32, he’s the fastest signal-caller in the league, a smiling Newton refused to make a case for himself.

“I don’t want to be the fastest quarterback,” Newton said. “I want to be the guy that can’t be caught. If you get caught in the open field, that means you’re not doing something right and you will be talked about in the locker room.”

While Newton is slightly thinner, so is the playbook he is studying this off-season. He said new offensive coordinator Mike Shula has implemented a more simplified approach, one that includes some easier-to-understand play-calling.

“When I say simplify, I don’t mean simplify what we do, I think simplify in my case is verbiage in calling the play,” Newton said. “When guys know what they have to do, I think they play faster and I think it looks better on the field.”

But Shula is unlikely to make wholesale changes, something that should benefit his quarterback’s growth. Newton put up some big numbers in his first two seasons, but even though former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is now a head coach in Cleveland, the system he ran in Carolina is still very much in place.

“I don’t think we’re going to be changing much,” Newton said. “We’re just going to try to sharpen up the blade of things we’ve put in and installed.”

Photo by Joel Beachum

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