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SPARTANBURG Vontae Davis Jersey , S.C. (AP) Panthers quarterback Cam Newton posted a photo of himself earlier this week on Instagram sitting at a card table with a stack of poker chips in front of him that read: ”I’m BETTING EVERYTHING on ME!”
It’s just one of several recent posts by Newton, most of which include him working out or showing off his chiseled six-pack abs.
The league’s 2015 MVP enters his eighth NFL season anxious to push the Panthers deeper into the playoffs after an 11-5 regular season ended with a first-round playoff loss to New Orleans last season.
Newton was in a jovial mood Thursday night as the team held its first training camp practice at Wofford College as new owner David Tepper looked on from the sideline. The quarterback led ”the wave” with the crowd and laughed it up with teammates during breaks in practice.
”It’s just nice to see him be Cam and have a lot of life and have a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said on check-in day on Wednesday. ”When he’s like that, he’s at his best.”
It helps that Newton doesn’t have to worry about rehabbing an injured shoulder as he did last summer.
Newton missed all of minicamp and OTAs in 2017 after rotator cuff surgery on his throwing shoulder following the 2016 season. He was back to throwing at training camp last year, but developed soreness after five practices.
Not wanting to chance any setbacks, the Panthers only allowed Newton to throw two passes in the preseason games.
Newton made it back for the start of the regular season and played in all 16 games. He struggled statistically, completing just 59.1 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, but it’s difficult to pin that on Newton or his shoulder.
Injuries to the offensive line and wide receiver position often left the former Heisman Trophy winner running from defenders after being flushed out of the pocket, desperately trying to find an open option.
Panthers general manager Marty Hurney addressed the need for playmakers at the wide receiver position this offseason by trading for Torrey Smith, signing free agent Jarius Wright and drafting rookie D.J. Moore in the first round.
”I thought you saw a lot of energy out of our offense in minicamp,” Hurney said. ”You just don’t know Youth Josh Rosen Jersey , but you want to see it come together.”
Newton is also adapting to a new offensive scheme after the Panthers fired Mike Shula and replaced him with Norv Turner. Running back Christian McCaffrey said Turner and Newton ”have really bonded” so far this offseason.
”Cam’s been throwing it really well. He has been making great reads and I think he’s just as excited as anybody for the season,” McCaffrey said.
Coach Ron Rivera said what excites him the most about Newton is the simple fact that he’s healthy and, as Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess said, ”is ready to rock.”
That has allowed him to work through some of the intricacies of Turner’s offense during OTAs and minicamp.
”Going into this camp, I think we’re already ahead with him,” Rivera said.
Newton didn’t talk to reporters following the completion of the team’s first practice at Gibbs Stadium, instead spending time signing autographs before heading in for team meetings. But he did post ”you know I’m ready” in a recent Instagram video.
”I think that’s the understatement of the year to say that him being out there makes a big difference, right?” said Olsen, who missed more than half of the 2017 season with a foot injury.
”Just his presence on the field. Having a full OTAs and minicamp with him and then getting some work done with him this summer and just seeing how good he’s feeling and moving around and training and throwing a lot, and now being able to do a full training camp – those are all stark contrasts with where we were at this point last year. One would hope that that’s a good sign for us.”
Newton is betting on it.
Matt Patricia got an early taste of what Jimmy Garoppolo was capable of doing as an NFL quarterback.
As soon as Garoppolo was drafted in the second round by New England in 2014, he got the chance to match wits with Patricia almost every day in practice as Tom Brady's backup Patriots Authentic Jerseys , while Patricia served as defensive coordinator for the Patriots.
The talents Garoppolo showed on the practice field only got better whenever he got a chance to play in a game, whether it was an exhibition, mop-up duty or in two starts during Brady's suspension in 2016.
So when Garoppolo became a star after being dealt to San Francisco, Patricia wasn't surprised at all. He will get a firsthand look at it Sunday as coach of the Detroit Lions (0-1), who visit Garoppolo and San Francisco (0-1).
"There was always something a little bit special about Jimmy in-game," Patricia said. "Just that extra light just came on and in the game itself you could just see really how special he was as a player."
After winning his two starts with the Patriots, Garoppolo went 5-0 for San Francisco after a midseason trade last year and earned a $137.5 million, five-year contract.
His first game with the new deal didn't go so well as he completed less than half his passes and threw three interceptions in a 24-16 loss at Minnesota. He expects a tough task this week, knowing that Patricia likes to change up his schemes, although Garoppolo hopes all that time on the practice field against his defenses pays dividends.
"There's a couple of little things you remember from over the years and stuff," he said. "But Authentic Shea Weber Jersey , Matty P's a smart coach and I'm sure they'll have something game planned for us."
Here are some other things to watch:
The last time San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan had an offense take on Patricia's defense came in the Super Bowl in 2017. Shanahan's Atlanta Falcons took a 28-3 lead before falling apart late and losing 34-28 to the Patriots in OT. With little film of the Lions to go on after just one game with Patricia as coach, Shanahan has looked back at that game for some clues.
"When you have limited tape you have to go back to whoever the coordinator was, where he was the coordinator last, so you can understand all the scheme stuff," he said. "And that's what you see. It's very similar to what they've done in New England and they present a lot of challenges that are very tough to deal with."
Patricia's tenure in Detroit got off to a rocky start. The Lions' 48-17 loss to the Jets was their fourth-most lopsided opening game loss in franchise history and worst since falling 45-0 to Washington in 1991. The game got out of hand during New York's 31-point third quarter, the most points any team has scored in the third since the Rams had 41 against Detroit on Oct. 29, 1950.
"You can't let one week lead into another week," Patricia said. "You have to learn, and unfortunately, on a very short week, we have to learn quickly."
The 49ers were held to one TD on four red zone trips in the opener Sylvester Williams Color Rush Jersey , continuing a trend from last season with Garoppolo at QB when they scored TDs on 12 of 28 red zone trips. Some of the problems in the opener were self-inflicted, like when Alfred Morris lost a fumble at the 1 in the first half. And Garoppolo threw high to an open George Kittle later in the game. There was also a third-down pass to Pierre Garcon that was broken up in the end zone, leading to another field goal.
"It gets tougher down there, and when you have an opportunity and you miss it you will not have a good day in the red zone," Shanahan said. "Not going to reinvent the wheel, but we're going to try and get better at that stuff."
The Lions had plenty of problems in the opener but one of the biggest might have been a lack of a running game. Detroit finished with a league-low 39 yards rushing on 15 carries. Offseason acquisition LeGarrette Blount lost 3 yards on four carries and rookie Kerryon Johnson had five carries for 17 yards.
The 49ers got strong production from their rookie class in the opener. First-round pick Mike McGlinchey had a solid performance starting at right tackle and then moving to guard after injuries to Mike Person and Joshua Garnett. Second-round pick Dante Pettis stepped in at receiver after Marquise Goodwin got hurt and caught two passes for 61 yards and the team's only TD. Third-round LB Fred Warner led all rookies with 11 solo tackles and added a forced fumble and pass defensed.
AP Sports Writer Larry Lage contributed to this report
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