CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner has no plans to restrict Cam Newton’s ability to make plays with his feet. As for the quarterback’s throwing motion, well that might need a little tweaking.
The 65-year-old Turner said he returned to coaching because of an opportunity to work again with Panthers coach Ron Rivera - who was on his coaching staff for four seasons in San Diego - and to coach the talented group of offensive players led by Newton.
“He’s an amazing player for his position,” Turner said Tuesday on a conference call.
The versatile 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton has carried the ball 828 times over the past seven seasons - by far the most in the league by a quarterback during that span. By comparison, Seattle’s Russell Wilson has run the ball 578 times during his six seasons in the league.
While it’s logical to question how much pounding Newton’s body can take - he turns 29 in May - it’s also hard to argue with his success.
He’s averaged 5.2 yards per carry and has scored 54 touchdowns rushing, which is the most by a QB in NFL history. And Newton tends to play better when he’s more involved in the running game.
“He’s a real threat to defenses,” Tuner said. “So he will always have that threat to run.”
That should be music to Newton’s ears.
After Newton carried the ball a career-high 139 times last season and led the Panthers in rushing with 754 yards, he said “that’s my edge.”
“I wouldn’t expect you or anybody else to take it away,” Newton said following Carolina’s season-ending playoff loss at New Orleans. “And when I say you, I mean the media as a whole. I’m comfortable running the football, I feel like I help the team when I’m running the football, and as long as I’m playing this game, I’m going to run the football.”
Turner suggested that he and his son Scott Turner, the team’s new quarterbacks coach, will look to improve Newton’s throwing mechanics.
Because he’s so big Newton has a tendency to rely on his strong arm and throw off his back foot, often resulting in high throws that lead to incompletions or interceptions. Turner said that while sometimes those types of throws are necessary under pressure, the staff “is going to work hard to get his weight transferred and have good technique when he is throwing.”
Turner said the Panthers overall system won’t change much, although he wants to be able to stretch the field vertically to force defenses to cover the entire field.
He believes Newton has the arm strength to do that.
Turner said he had a brief conversation with Newton after being hired.
“We didn’t get into a lot of football,” Turner said. “As he expressed to me - and I feel the same way - there is excitement and nervousness. When you have change there is nervousness. Sometimes that nervousness is good and it gets your attention. It’s not status quo and you use that as a time to improve.”
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