During this NFL Lockout, the first overall draft pick, Cam Newton, has been relying on IMG Academy football program Director Chris Weinke as a coach and a mentor. Staff writer Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer conducted an interview with Weinke regarding Cam Newton's past, present, and future potential.
A quarterback with a Heisman Trophy and a national championship has been sweating under an unforgiving Florida sun this offseason, following a regimen that could help the Panthers bounce back from last year's 2-14 disaster.
Chris Weinke says progress has been good.
There have been a number of advisers and quarterback coaches who have worked with Cam Newton leading up to and following the April 28 night when the Panthers drafted Newton No. 1 overall - from quarterback guru George Whitfield to Hall of Famer Warren Moon.
And while Moon's career numbers dwarf what Weinke accomplished in seven NFL seasons, Weinke's rÃ©sumÃ© is dotted with Charlotte and Panthers references.
Weinke, director of the IMG Academy football program where Newton has been training since the draft, knows what Newton should expect when he steps into Bank of America Stadium after the lockout.
"He's going into a great situation. It's a great city. And I think he will be welcomed with open arms," Weinke said. "But he also needs to understand that everybody welcomes you early on. And if you don't have success, you're going to have to deal with it in a positive way. Become a leader, even though you are a rookie."
Weinke won the Heisman as a Florida State senior in 2000, a year after leading the Seminoles to the national title. Because he played six seasons of minor league baseball, Weinke was a 29-year-old rookie in 2001 after the Panthers drafted him in the fourth round.
Weinke was the starter when the Panthers opened the season with a win at Minnesota, where Weinke grew up. They didn't win again.
George Seifert was out as coach, John Fox was in, and Weinke became a regular on the inactive list as the third quarterback.
"Every rookie quarterback is going to struggle at some point. It doesn't matter where you came from," Weinke said last week at the IMG football offices, housed in several trailers near the back of the 400-plus-acre property.