NFL

NFL AM: Carolina Panthers to Let Cam Newton Run Wild

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Newton Ready to Run

The Panthers did as promised and showed Cam Newton the money. That doesn’t mean team officials want him to start showing more restraint.

Newton missed two games last season due to injury — the first games he’s missed in his four-year career — and there was some thought the Panthers would ask Newton to run less after signing him to a six-year, $103.8 million extension that includes $60 million in guarantees.

GM David Gettlemen promised that will not be the case.

“No. He’s got to be Cam. You don’t hold back a thoroughbred, you don’t,” Gettleman told the Charlotte Observer. “I don’t know if you watched the Belmont. When (American) Pharaoh came around that backstretch and that horse was nipping at his heels, the jockey let him go. He didn’t whip him. He’s just, ‘Go baby!’ And that’s what a thoroughbred does. You don’t change their game. … You can’t do it.”

Newton has rushed for 2,571 yards and 31 touchdowns since entering the league, averaging over 5.5 yards per attempt. However, he was not as effective last season, as he finished with a career-low 539 rushing yards and lost five fumbles. Rib and ankle injuries limited his effectiveness.

Newton is healthy now and enjoying his strongest offseason to date, showing improved footwork and touch. All that remains is to see how long he can keep it up … and how far the Panthers can ride him.

Pryor Loses His Stripes

If you can’t beat out Andy Dalton, it’s time to change positions. That seems to be the approach Terrelle Pryor is taking after being released by the Bengals.

Pryor’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has spread the word through the media over the last couple of days that his client will now focus on making the switch to receiver. The stint in Cincinnati was considered Pryor’s last shot at quarterback, as he was playing under offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who was the head coach in Oakland when the Raiders selected Pryor in the 2011 supplemental draft.

Pryor spent time earlier this offseason with the Chiefs. After being released by Kansas City, he said: “If I can’t play quarterback, I can’t play football.”

Only time will tell if he can prove himself wrong.

Show Mariota the Money

No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota is the last unsigned first-round pick. He’s also the rookie who can least afford to miss any time in training camp, as he’s expected to make the switch from Oregon’s wide-open offense to Tennessee’s more structured attack and be ready to start by Week 1.

GM Ruston Webster said Friday he does not foresee it being an issue.

“It’s going like most contract situations go about this time of year,” Webster said on “The Midday 180” on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone. “We have had good conversations. We’ll continue to have good conversations. Looking forward to getting that done and him being in here for camp.

“I personally don’t see there being a major issue. … I don’t concern myself too much with it if a guy misses a few days. We’ve had good talks. We’re motivated. Marcus is motivated. So I would expect that we would be able to get something done. As you said, we have plenty of time right now, so we’ll just see where it all goes.”

The Titans report to training camp on July 30 and being practice the next day. The team is gearing up for its regular season opener on Sept. 13 in Tampa Bay, where Mariota will attempt to outgun the player selected directly ahead of him, Jameis Winston. The No. 1 overall pick signed his contract before the draft had even concluded.

Pats Dump Davis

The Patriots continue to pare down the league’s most loaded tight end corps.

One week after releasing Tim Wright, the Patriots parted ways with veteran Fred Davis, who had signed as a free agent earlier this offseason.

Davis missed the entire 2014 season due to a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Coach Bill Belichick spoke about Davis earlier this week.

“Fred’s been here through the whole process, the OTAs; it’s a different kind of system for him,” Belichick said. “He’s been out of football for a little while, but [he has] worked hard, very hard, to try to pick things up and learn a new system. He’s making progress.”

But it wasn’t enough to overcome a daunting numbers game. In addition to Davis, the Patriots signed free agent Scott Chandler and drafted A.J. Darby to fill out the tight end position. Holdover Michael Hoomanawanui is also in the mix to serve as the No. 2 tight end alongside All Pro Rob Gronkowski.

Davis, a former second-round pick, authored some big seasons for the Redskins. In 2011 he caught 59 passes for 796 yards and three touchdowns despite playing in just 12 games. Unfortunately, it’s been all downhill since. After his release from the Patriots, Davis’ comeback plans appear to be running out of air.

Brees’ Big Donation

On the field, Drew Brees is known for spreading the wealth. Off the field, he’s known for doing the exact same thing.

On Friday, Brees’ alma mater announced that the Pro Bowl quarterback and his wife, Brittany, committed $1 million to the Purdue football program. The gift follows a $2 million donation the couple made to the school back in 2007.

“We care so much about Purdue University,” Brees said. “Purdue has meant so much to me, and it has provided so many things. From the education I received and playing for coach Joe Tiller, to winning a Big Ten championship and going to the Rose Bowl, to the relationships I was able to form with many of my teammates and meeting my beautiful wife … we are so blessed and so thankful.”

The most recent donation is part of the “Purdue Football Master Plan,” the goal of which is to elevate the football program back to a championship level. Brees and other former Boilermakers participated in a recent three-day summit to talk about how to bring those visions into reality.

Brees only wishes his current team was not as giving as he is; the Saints traded away his favorite targets (Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills) in separate deals earlier this offseason.

Want to talk more about these and other headlines? Join Michael Lombardo for his weekly NFL Chat on Friday at 2pm EST. But you don’t have to wait until then … you can ask your question now!


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.