Cam Newton’s biggest challenge of 2017: ‘Get my swag back’

Cam Newton’s biggest challenge of 2017: ‘Get my swag back’

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Whether jersey runs more or less this season doesn’t really matter. Whether the quarterback decides to bring back the dab or cheap jersey unveils another entertaining way to celebrate touchdowns doesn’t really matter. Whether the 2015 NFL MVP weighs 246 pounds, as he was when reporting to training camp Tuesday, or the 260 pounds he’s been the past few seasons doesn’t really matter, either.

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Only one thing really matters to Newton.

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Newton lost his swag during the 2016 season, statistically the worst of his career and record-wise (6-10) the worst since his rookie season in 2011. In his most recent news conference before this one — following a 17-16 loss at Tampa Bay on Jan. 1 — Newton was more down on the game he loves than he’s been at any point in his career.

cheap sports jerseys “I think me and football got a love-hate relationship,’’ he said that day. “And we’re not on good terms right now. I’m just going to leave her alone for a while.’’

Cheap Jason Kelce jersey Newton did just that. He went on a weight loss and workout program in February that has him looking more fit than at any point in his career. He had March surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff that made last season more painful than we ever knew.

Now the 28-year-old is ready to go. The chatter he made in practice during offseason workouts, where he basically was a spectator as he rehabbed his right shoulder, will sound like whispers compared to what he has planned for training camp.

Saying he wanted his Panthers to “just have fun” this season, quarterback Cam Newton jersey jersey looked the part Thursday. AP Photo/Chuck Burton“Well, if they didn’t hear me, they damn sure going to hear me now,’’ Newton said. “Let’s just say that. I’m excited. I want my energy to be vibrant. I want people to see it, I want it to be contagious.’’

Newton isn’t your typical quarterback when it comes to size (6-foot-5, 246 pounds) or demeanor. He’s loud. Really loud. Not just with defenders from other teams, but his own defense.

Some of the most entertaining moments of training camp the past few years were when Newton and outside linebacker got into jawing matches. And let’s not forget how Newton and former Carolina cornerback jersey got into a heated fight during a 2015 camp practice.

Newton doesn’t just go along quietly doing his job. When he makes a big play, everybody knows it.

Such was the case on his final throw of team drills Wednesday. After hitting tight end jersey in stride about 45 yards down the left sideline, Newton spread his arms and soared like an airplane toward the three-time Pro Bowler in the end zone.

He continued to celebrate by giving a child spectator the football, as he does after touchdowns during games. He still was celebrating when he reached backup quarterback Joe Webb on the sideline.

“I don’t think people or you guys want to see a practice go as nobody’s talking,’’ Newton said. “I’m not saying that’s my job or my role. My job is to get my guys going, and before I get those guys going, I gotta get myself going.’’

Teammates feed off Newton’s energy during practices and games. He can be contagious.

“During OTAs he didn’t do much and he was still doing all that talking,’’ said cornerback jersey jersey, a big-time talker in his own right. “I was like, ‘Man, for a guy that’s not practicing, he’s doing a lot of talking.’ But that’s Cam. He likes to compete. He likes to have fun. Just to have him back on the field is a great presence for us.’’

Having Newton back with swag will be even greater.

There have been debates this offseason over whether Newton has peaked, over whether he can return to the 2015 form that helped Carolina to an NFL-best 15-1 record and trip to the Super Bowl.

“I don’t understand what they see,’’ Newton said almost defiantly. “We’re all undefeated right now. That’s meaningless. That’s just irrelevant offseason talk.

“I can tell you one thing: You go in that cafeteria right now or even in that locker room, we’re not looking for no handouts. … Our mentality is to get back to having that edge. That’s what we’re all about.’’

There also are debates over whether Newton can be as effective if the offense evolves to depend less on him as a runner and more on playmakers such as first-round pick . Newton made it clear that, whether the coaches call fewer designed run plays for him or not, he’s not giving up that edge. He’ll run if it helps the team win.

“I don’t care what they do,’’ Newton said. “I’ve never questioned coaching. … I just want to win football games.’’

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Winning, in Newton’s mind, equals swag.

He had swag in junior college, winning a national title. He had swag in his one season at Auburn, winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship.

He had swag in 2015, coming within two losses of a perfect record and a Super Bowl ring.

Now he wants that swag back.

Last season wasn’t just humbling for Newton. It was “extremely humbling.’’ So he took some time off. He got in shape. He got his sore shoulder repaired.

“I came to a crossroad with it and that crossroad is in the past,’’ Newton said of last season. “But now I’m looking forward to what the future allows, and before that I’m trying to maximize each and every opportunity I get each and every day.’’

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