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Newton wants more

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Others want to talk about the possibility of a sophomore slump, but quarterback Cam Newton has no interest in rehashing the past or forecasting the future.

He just wants to win – today.

"I'm coming into this training camp with a whole new state of mind, throwing away what has happened and focusing on how I can make an impact right now," Newton said Monday at his first press conference of training camp. "I'm not satisfied with anything I've done. I've got to get better."

Newton set numerous NFL rookie records in 2011, but the only record he referenced Monday was the team's win-loss record. Yes, the Panthers did improve their win total by four thanks in large part to Newton's rookie-of-the-year season, but they still fell well short of playoff contention.

Change is in the air, and Newton sees himself as simply a piece of the puzzle.

"There's a vibe going around the Carolinas, and it's a good vibe. The sad thing about is that we're only scratching the surface," he said. "We went 6-10 last year. That's nothing to be happy about. But at the same time, there's a buzz about the potential this team has.

"But like the saying says, 'Potential ain't never won nothing.' We're going to need the fans more than ever this year because we want to own Bank of America Stadium. They have a big part to do with that."

Fans are turning out in droves to watch Newton and the Panthers at Wofford College – nearly 20,000 through two practices – and they haven't been disappointed.


What they haven't seen is what goes on before and after practice, from early in the morning until well after the sun goes down. Playing quarterback in the NFL is a demanding process, one that has rarely taken a hiatus since Newton's remarkable rookie season came to a close.

"People will never see the hours (we put in)," Newton said. "The only thing people will really see is the final product, and the final product is on game day, on Sundays. It comes to fruition on those days.

"Not only me, but all the quarterbacks and all the receivers have been making a conscious effort to come in and do extra to help this team win."

Especially in the early stages of Newton's rookie season, he tried to do it all on his own – not in a selfish way but in an intensely personal way. He internalized every misstep made by the team and kept it to himself, as seen by how hard he took losses.

Later in the season, however, thanks to the advice of some veterans, Newton became better at channeling his strong will to win in more positive ways, even when negative events befell the team.

In short, he began becoming a leader.

"There were some disgusting looks on my face from plays where there was a turnover," Newton said. "But I play quarterback. That's the most scrutinized, criticized, position of all the sports, I believe. So when you play this position, you have to have a certain leadership responsibility that everybody looks for.

"There are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days, but lucky for me I've got guys like Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross, Jon Beason, Steve Smith - guys that have made their mark in this league. I don't know all the answers, but at least I've got guys like that who I can go to and talk."

Kalil has been all the talk with his recent newspaper ad that got fans fired up about a Super Bowl run.

Newton is right there with him, though he's not spending much of his valuable time worrying about yesterday's news or tomorrow's headlines.

"Everybody on this team backs Ryan Kalil – the coaches, the players, management, the janitor and the fans. If you're on this ship, you're going to back him," Newton said. "Everybody wants to win the big hoorah – the Super Bowl – but let's worry about today.

"Let's worry about going out there and trying to get better and executing each and every play, because tomorrow's not promised."

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