Tag:Cam Newton
Posted on: June 9, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: June 9, 2011 10:42 am

Vikings have faith in Ponder but won't rush him

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Yesterday we mentioned that free agent Matt Hasselbeck might be a possible stopgap in Tennessee should Seattle choose not to re-sign him. Hasselbeck mentored rookie Titans quarterback Jack Locker when Locker was at the University of Washington, and Hasselback has ties to the Titans front office.

Plus, he's 35. Any stint in Tennessee would be a short one. Ideally, Hasselback would bridge the gap between broken dreams (Vince Young) and renewed hope (Locker), a gig Kerry Collins doesn't sound all that interested in.

We bring this up because Locker isn't the only rookie quarterback who could begin the season under center. First-overall pick Cam Newton seems a long shot to win a starting job out of training camp, but it's too early to rule out the Jaguars' Blaine Gabbert and the Vikings' Christian Ponder.

Players and coaches are forbidden from talking to each other during the lockout, but the lockout is giving Minnesota offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave plenty of time to plan for the upcoming season.

First up: keep it simple. Which means that whoever's the QB, he'll have to be proficient at taking the snap, pivoting, and handing the ball to No. 28. And there will be the occasional throw -- probably off rollouts and bootlegs -- to, you know, keep defenses honest.

"We'll major in giving the ball to Adrian (Peterson), and we'll need a quarterback that can keep defenses honest and can have a little bit of movement to himself," Musgrave, who once was a backup quarterback with Dallas, San Francisco and Denver, told the Star Tribune's Judd Zulag. "Not just be a statue back there because with the pieces that are in place we won't be just a drop-back, stay-in-the-pocket type team. We're going to really attack the defense on the edges both with Adrian and also our quarterback."

We have yet to hear from Titans coaches about their plans for Locker, but running back Chris Johnson was under the impression Monday that it was Locker's job to lose. "Everybody knows [Jake's] going to be the starting quarterback so he needs to be ready come Game 1," he said.

Musgrave isn't quite ready to commit to Ponder ... yet.

"…[I]t's hard to speculate at this stage. We just don't know. There are so many contingency plans because there are so many unknowns.

"I do know this," Musgrave added. "I know that Christian has a broad-based background on offensive football from Florida State, and he'll be able to jump in there and keep his head above water. We'll hope to do a good job and enable him to maintain his confidence and develop and get comfortable at the same time."

In the weeks and months leading up to the draft, the knock against Locker was that he struggled with accuracy. That's a huge problem in the NFL, where the defensive backs get faster and the windows get smaller. For Ponder, there were concerns about his ability to stay healthy and his arm strength. But he was the most consistent player at the Senior Bowl in January, and looked even better at the February combine. By late April, draft experts were saying things like, "Perhaps no quarterback in this draft class has a better command of the game's subtleties."

That is great news for a franchise that can focus on other things this summer than Brett Favre's annual un-retirement tour.

Musgrave and Ponder spent a few hours talking football when the lockout was briefly lifted in late April. It was enough time for Ponder to get a playbook, and later pass on what he learned to teammates at workouts he organized last week in Bradenton, Fla.
Vikes Offseason

Even in a normal offseason, it would be difficult for a rookie quarterback to win a starting job. We're currently 86 days into the lockout with no end in sight. Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was noncommittal on whether the team would sign a veteran QB, although some fans think Donovan McNabb would be the perfect candidate (we disagree).

But even if Ponder is forced into duty it doesn't mean Minnesota's season is doomed; Musgrave came from Atlanta where he played a big role in Matt Ryan's development. The Falcons were 19-29 in the three years before Ryan arrived in 2008. They're 31-12 in the three years since, including two 11-plus win seasons. Ideally, rookie quarterbacks learn by watching, but surround them with a stout defense and playmakers at the skill positions (check and check, in Minnesota's case) and the results will occasionally surprise you.

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Posted on: June 7, 2011 7:45 am
Edited on: June 7, 2011 10:28 am

Steve Smith calls Newton, Rivera 'outstanding'

Posted by Will Brinson

Lost in all the hubbub surrounding the likely departure of Steve Smith from Carolina is the fact that nothing bad has been said between the two parties.

In fact, it's quite the opposite -- Smith and the Panthers have been very pleasant about their relationship. Smith continued that offseason tradition on Monday, when he referred to Carolina's rookie quarterback Cam Newton as "outstanding."

"The drafting of Cam is outstanding," Smith said. "Met with him a few times and very much impressed by Cam."

This is in stark contrast to how Smith seemed to view Jimmy Clausen, last year's rookie quarterback, with whom Smith seemed to often grow frustrated. (He wasn't alone; ask any Panthers fan.)

But it's also the word Smith used to describe head coach Ron Rivera, who heretofore hasn't been doing Smith any favors by seeming less than optimistic about Smith returning to Charlotte.

"When I met Ron I would say they maybe sold him short. He's great, a great guy," Smith said. "My first meeting with him was pretty good, it was outstanding. I walked away very impressed."
Smith's Saga in Charlotte

Now, again, all parties have been very amicable during the offseason, although Smith's house is up for sale -- later with a reduced price -- and Smith all but shipped out of Charlotte.

It's probably too much to expect that the sides will be on the same page when/if the season starts, and it's more than likely that Smith ends up going somewhere else.

But it's still worth noting that nothing mean has been said quite yet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: June 3, 2011 10:08 pm

Goodell optimistic about direction of labor talks

Roger Goodell said he's optimistic about the labor talks (AP).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person caught up with commissioner Roger Goodell today at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., and perhaps predictably Goodell said he’s optimistic about the latest (not-so-secret!) labor talks.

Goodell was coming off three days of meetings with the NFLPA in Chicago, and the first question he took during a fan forum was from a soldier who couldn’t understand why the league had such a tough time splitting $9 billion.

He gave his typical answer about protecting the game and blah, blah, blah (he probably threw something in there about how this can’t be solved through litigation), but Goodell later said he was confident the two sides were on the right track to finding a lockout solution (in case you need a timeline to what's been happening, we've got you covered).

"I think both sides want to continue the dialogue, and I think that's a positive thing," Goodell said, via Person. "The importance is to have the principles talk. That's what we were interested in doing is having the owners and the players talk to one another. That was accomplished this week."

And since Person covers the Panthers, he couldn’t resist giving a little Carolina quarterback news, via coach Ron Rivera.

With the Panthers needing to add a veteran QB to help the progress of No. 1 pick Cam Newton (and Jimmy Clausen, I suppose), Rivera said that person could be former Panthers starter Matt Moore.

"Here's a guy that was slated to have a good opportunity to be the starter," Rivera said. "And unfortunately, things didn't work out for him. So we've got to look at that as well when we get to that point."

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Posted on: May 29, 2011 2:18 pm

Hot Routes 5.29.11: Furloughs and fun

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • There are many of us think it’s deplorable for teams to gut staff or send their lowest-level employees out on unpaid furloughs (even if it might make good business sense) during the lockout? Well, it also makes Steelers LB Larry Foote mad. Said Foote in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: "I don't know who they're trying to fool. How the heck are they laying people off? I don't get that part. That ain't right right there. That's affecting people's lives; they're not making millions of dollars, many of them are going check to check. It's the first time I actually got mad when I read that the other day. They're going too far. That's ridiculous now. The owners are starting to make themselves look like the big companies that move people outside the country. I'm not talking about the Rooneys, I know what they're cut from."
  • T. Romo and his wife, Candice Crawford (Getty).Also in the above article, Pittsburgh NT Chris Hoke said he thinks 90 percent of the league’s veterans are OK with the lockout. Said Hoke: “I want to be in training camp, but, if we're not going in now, when's the last time I could go work out 3-4 hours in the morning and have the afternoon with my wife? Never."
  • Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to Pro Football Weekly about No. 1 pick Cam Newton missing offseason workouts: “The Panthers are going to be like everybody else and (Newton's) going to be like everybody else, so we all have to adjust and deal with what we have to deal with. I'm not really overly stressed out about it, personally."
  • CBSSports.com’s own Len Pasquarelli writes about the how and why the two sides of the labor dispute actually could agree about the monitoring of social media

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: May 25, 2011 10:44 am

Newton joining Panthers teammates in workouts

Posted by Will Brinson

Cam Newton's cool new photos are awesome enough to warrant a spot as my Twitter avatar right now. However, the Panthers top pick isn't letting that go to his head and, fortunately, is planning on joining his teammates in voluntary workouts.

The informal sessions are expected to begin next week in Charlotte, and Newton will be there along with his teammates. Interestingly though -- per Joe Pearson of the Charlotte Observer -- it appears his two agents, Tony Paige and Bus Cook, are a little at odds as to whether or not the No. 1 overall should be working out sans contract.

"When you're a rookie, especially as a quarterback, it's good to work on timing. But (it's) mainly getting around your teammates," Paige said. "I think Cam is excited about getting to know his teammates. Typically by now, he would know everybody."

Cook took a much different tone.

"I know it's non-contact and all that, but hypothetically if they get hurt - especially if it's season-ending or career-ending ... it could have a big impact," Cook said.

Yes it could. Like, for instance, having everyone in the South who cares about pro football just giving up and going back to rooting for the Redskins or Falcons.

It would also make Newton the single-biggest bust in the history of the NFL Draft, which is saying something.

But despite all of those concerns, the actual probability of Newton suffering a career-ending injury is pretty low. And certainly low enough to warrant Newton getting in some work with his teammates and eliminating any perception that he might be a diva who's more concerned with endorsements, etc., than he is with making an immediate impact as a football player.

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Posted on: May 24, 2011 9:41 am
Edited on: May 24, 2011 10:35 am

NFL Shop raises jersey prices $5 amid lockout

Posted by Will Brinson

It seems like a terrible time to raise the cost of jerseys at NFLShop.com -- by a whopping five dollars apiece. Yet that's exactly what is happening although a lockout is firmly in place with no current guarantee of football in 2011.

The NFL insists the price hike is a result of the "normal course of business."

I called NFLShop.com after seeing a report on JoeBucsFan.com (via Pro Football Talk) that the NFL has increased the costs of replica jerseys from $79.99 to $84.99. After providing my name and employer, I was immediately put on hold and transferred to a supervisor.

"Well, the only thing we can say about any price increases are a part of normal course of business and a result of the cost of goods increasing, sir," the supervisor told CBSSports.com.

Since that didn't equate to confirmation, I felt a follow-up question was appropriate. I asked:  "But can you confirm the increase in $5 per jersey?"  

"Yes, sir, but any price increases are part of a normal course of business," she replied.

As to the issue of selling jerseys for unsigned rookies (as you can see Cam Newton jerseys are on "advance sale!" for $84.99), the supervisor said that she "wouldn't be able to answer that" question.
NFL Labor

Obviously, the timing on the increase in costs for jerseys is poor (and that may be an understatement).

But, it's entirely possible that the cost of jersey-making is going through the roof right now, which would rationally explain the need to raise costs of jerseys by $5 under the "normal course of business."

However, representatives for both the NBA.com and MLB.com confirmed to CBSSports.com that neither of their respective stores had raised prices in the last month and neither had plans to raise prices any time in the near future.

Certainly, jersey-making, while not homogenous across all sports, should follow some sort of trend. It seems that the NBA and MLB should also be feeling any increase in costs. However, if those teams are feeling cost increases they certainly are not passing them on to fans -- and that is what makes the NFL's move so problematic in a lockout-ridden offseason.

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Photo via NFL.com
Posted on: May 23, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 12:44 pm

Video: Cam Newton sings Justin Bieber's 'Baby'

Posted by Will Brinson

I'm not entirely sure why Cam Newton's dominating the headlines on this sleepy NFL Monday, but, hey, whatever -- any time you can get video of the No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick singing Justin Bieber's "Baby" you take it and run with it.

Newton was apparently singing the song during the NFLPA's "Rookie Premiere" event that was designed to produce some shots for Topps trading cards.

And yeah, it's probably smart that Newton stick to learning his new playbook and making money on the football field.

Although if anything, this could help Newton shed that whole "entertainer and icon" label.

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Posted on: May 23, 2011 9:47 am
Edited on: May 23, 2011 10:05 am

Newton working with ex-Cane Ken Dorsey too

Posted by Will Brinson

Cam Newton has all kinds of mentors and coaches helping him get better as an NFL quarterback.

But the latest guy added to Newton's list of helpers, per Peter King of Sports Illustrated, is a pretty interesting one: ex-Miami Hurricane star Ken Dorsey.

The logic behind the combination? Well, Dorsey knows Panthers' offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski's system pretty well, having played under "Chud" as an OC in 2001 and 2002 at Miami, as well as 2007 and 2008 with the Cleveland Browns.

"The best way to describe it is it's like an old pilot grooming a new pilot to take over his plane," said George Whitfield, another of Newton's coaches. "The old pilot's teaching him about every one of the controls in the cockpit."

This pairing is particularly interesting to me, because it's not the type of thing that Newton would be doing to get his mind, feet and body right for the long term. It seems like a move Newton is making in order to try and make an immediate impact for the Panthers in 2011.

As Clark Judge recently wrote, it's kind of unlikely that any of this year's rookie signal callers will have a tremendous impact (the lockout's hurting them the most), but it sure does look like Newton is doing his best to get a grasp on what's supposed to be an incredibly complex offensive playbook.

That should be good news for the Panthers, considering how much they just invested in Heisman winner.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com