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“Obviously, it’s still not 100 percent, but seeing the ball come out of my hand in a throwing motion was good,” Newton said.
“When I say it’s not 100 percent, I’m noting the range of motion part,” he added. “Like if you sleep with your legs hanging off your bed the whole night, you’re going to wake up and be super stiff. Or like sitting on your hands, or sitting in an awkward position and finally getting up and moving—that’s how I feel.”
Newton, 28, had a disappointing season in 2016, just one year removed from his MVP campaign. His shoulder likely played a part, as he threw for 3,509 yards and 19 touchdowns with 14 interceptions and rushed for 359 yards and five scores in 15 games.
“I knew something was wrong,” Newton said. “I knew it was going to hurt, continuously hurt. No matter what the treatment was, it takes just one hit or fall and it’s going to inflame again. And it did.
“Some of it was stubbornness, but I wanted people to know what I’m willing to do for this franchise. At the end of the day, no one could say I quit.”
The Panthers limped to a 6-10 record, a far cry from their 15-1 regular season and trip to the Super Bowl the season prior.
Newton had surgery March 30, putting off the procedure until it was clear his shoulder wasn’t going to heal on its own.
“I was trying to get the proper treatment, overtreatment,” he said. “Get it stretched, get a massage, get the ice, stem, everything. Over time I was like, ‘You know what? It’s just not getting better.'”
Newton said he wants to be ready to go for training camp. His health is paramount for the Panthers, as few teams are more reliant on their quarterback. While Carolina added offensive pieces this offseason to help shoulder the load—including playmakers like Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel in the draft—Newton is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink.
If he’s back to 100 percent in 2017, the Panthers are a Super Bowl contender. If he isn’t, another 6-10 season isn’t out of the question.