Week by week, those doubting Cam's NFL talent seems to be dwindling. It is hard to doubt someone who, as a rookie is 4th in passing yards and has led his team to more touchdowns in the first 7 weeks (18) than they had all of last year (17).
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Cam's fast start is in part to the training he received in the off-season. Cam spend the summer at IMG Academy working with Chris Weinke at the IMG Academy football program Academy.Weinke was impressed with Newton from the start:
Newton was similarly impressive when former NFL quarterbackChris Weinke started training him during the lockout. On their first day together, Weinke drew 20 to 30 plays that he had gleaned from a playbook Carolina coaches had given Newton after drafting him. Weinke wanted to assess Newton's grasp of personnel groups and formations. What he learned was that Newton could answer every question he offered.
"Once he did that," Weinke said, "I knew his mental capacity was right where it needed to be."
Today Newton feels comfortable enough in Carolina's system that he doesn't even wear wristbands with plays written on them in games.
The workouts at IMG Academy ended up being a benefit when many thought the lockout would be a hinderance to him:
If anything, Newton's time away from the Panthers may have been a subtle blessing. Instead of being besieged by media and swamped by daily reports of his development, he essentially went underground for three months and worked with Weinke at the IMG football academy in Bradenton, Fla. It helped that Weinke had played in Carolina and was able to understand the system being installed by Chudzinski (though Weinke never played in that offense). Weinke also wanted to create a structured environment that might closely mirror what Newton would've experienced in an NFL offseason workout program.
A typical day started with Weinke honing Newton's mechanics during a morning workout. The two then had two classroom sessions that lasted at least 60 to 90 minutes. The first would involve installation of concepts; the second would focus on review.
"He always wanted more information," Weinke said. "He wanted to challenge himself and he was asking the right questions."
The Panthers saw that growth firsthand when Newton arrived for training camp. He still had a ways to go in mastering the playbook, but Chudzinski said, "The hope was that we could start him. We wanted to get him on the field as soon as we could. There were some struggles but he also kept improving."