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Carolina Panthers

Jonathan Stewart embracing change and competition


There has been a lot of discussion about the Panthers offense this offseason.

Head coach Ron Rivera has been open about his desire to do things differently in 2017 in an effort to take pressure off quarterback Cam Newton and field a more productive unit.

And as far as the draft is concerned, many analysts have tied the Panthers to the running backs, which is one of the deepest position groups this year.

Workhorse running back Jonathan Stewart, who signed a one-year extension Friday, addressed those topics after signing his contract.

On the direction of the offense: "The main thing we have to do better is protect Cam. Whether that's pass-blocking or running the ball to give him some relief. That's going to mean the world for us. It's a quarterback-driven league, and we have the best quarterback in the league. It starts right there, and that's what we've been doing this offseason. I think we're headed in the right direction."

On Carolina adding a running back via the draft: "I mean, it's a good thing. You always want fresh legs. Fresh legs mean a lot, especially in the fourth quarter. Having somebody potentially come in here … there are a lot of good running backs in this draft class, a lot of talent. Definitely open arms to get somebody in here that wants to win and understands that. We're better as a fist than we are as an open hand."

On increased competition on the roster: "When you compete, you're getting better every day. You're building the mindset of winning every day. The winning mindset starts in the locker room.

"I'm not satisfied by any means. Last year was disappointing. We just have to get back to the mindset of winning, and it's really about the little things."

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