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Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton sees potential in Ravens rookie Lamar Jackson


CHARLOTTE -- Baltimore's top-ranked defense won't be the only thing quarterback Cam Newton will have his eye on come Sunday.

Newton spent the majority of his Wednesday press conference fielding questions about the defensive challenge the Ravens will bring, but that didn't stop him from sharing his thoughts on rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.

In limited playing time behind veteran starter Joe Flacco, Jackson, the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has shown flashes of the dual-threat ability that made him a star in his three years at Louisville. Newton, the 2010 No. 1 overall pick, has showcased his skills as a starter from Day One. But he admitted that Jackson has some traits that he doesn't.

"He's got a little bit more life in his legs than I do. A little bit more wiggle. I'll be trying to take some notes out of his book," Newton said. "Very, very exceptional talent Lamar is. I've been watching him for a long time."

Newton referenced the 2015 college football season opener that his alma mater, Auburn, played against Louisville in Atlanta as the moment he first noticed Jackson.

In the then-freshman's collegiate debut, Jackson completed 9-of-20 pass attempts for 100 yards while rushing for 106 yards on 16 carries. The Tigers won that contest, 31-24, but the spotlight stayed on Jackson from that point on.

Given that both players spent their college careers widely recognized as the NCAA's best dual-threat quarterback - and perhaps the best athletes altogether - the parallels between the two are obvious.

Both won the Heisman Trophy (Newton in 2010, Jackson in 2016) and brought a unique game-changing play style with them to the NFL. Ahead of the draft, Jackson even noted that he wants to be like Newton and New England's Tom Brady because they're "superheroes."

Jackson still has a ways to go before he reaches the status of "Super Cam", but Newton believes, when the right time comes, Jackson will be able to seize the opportunity. Against New Orleans in Week 7, Jackson used his legs on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to score his first touchdown and earn a valuable early-career highlight that will only help to build him up moving forward.

"As he keeps growing in this league, I know his confidence will rise," Newton said. "Hopefully, one day, he'll have the reins to be a starter."