Cam Newton: 'I can't stress enough that I'm not 100 percent yet'

By Ryan Wilson |

Cam Newton is looking to keep the Panthers atop the NFC South. (USATSI)
Cam Newton is looking to keep the Panthers atop the NFC South. (USATSI)

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Good news: Quarterback Cam Newton's surgically repaired ankle is getting better.

Bad news (temporarily, anyway): He's not completely healthy and he wants to make that clear as the Panthers begin training camp.

''I can't stress enough that I'm not 100 percent yet,'' Newton said, according to the Associated Press, adding: ''It's just going to take treatment and time."

More good news: Newton's rehab is right on schedule, which means he should be good to go when the regular season commences in six weeks. In the meantime, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the plan is to take it slow, but conceded that he was happy to see Newton on the field -- even if it's in a limited capacity.

''It was good to see Cam out there,'' Rivera said. ''He's a little rusty in terms of his quarterback-to-running back exchange. But he's working himself back in and he has to work those techniques. But it was nice to see him make some nice throws.''

And despite a solid 2013 campaign -- Newton completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,379 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions -- there's still room for improvement.

''A big thing is developing that footwork and getting that flexibility back in that ankle,'' Rivera said. ''As he practices and goes through day by day we have to be smart with it. I think he will work back into shape pretty soon.''

In the offseason, the Panthers parted ways with receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn and Dominik Hixon. In their place the team signed Jerricho Cotchery, Jason Avant, Tiquan Underwood, tight end Ed Dickson and drafted Kelvin Benjamin. How Newton gels with his new pass-catchers will go a long way in determining whether this team can build on last season's 12-4 record.

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