Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who spent most of offseason workouts rehabilitating from offseason surgery on his left ankle, will get an early jump on training camp with his new group of wide receivers.
Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood told USA Today after a Thursday workout at Larry Fitzgerald's camp at the University of Minnesota that Newton, backup quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Joe Webb and Matt Blanchard will work on their own with all the receivers next week in Charlotte.
Players officially report to Charlotte on July 24, with the first practice at training camp on the 26th in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Newton has spent most of the past month rehabbing in Charlotte since offseason workouts ended on June 19. First-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin, a wide receiver out of Florida State, also stayed in town to work with the team's starting quarterback.
Newton was limited during most of offseason workouts, with his most extensive work being 15 snaps during seven-on-seven drills on the last day of a three-day minicamp. On June 25, Newton tweeted that he was "excited to be cleared to work out."
So next week will be his first extensive participation with an entirely new group of receivers. During the offseason, Steve Smith was cut and three other receivers from the 2013 Panthers signed with other teams in free agency.
"It's been more difficult because Cam's coming off an ankle injury and he had to get surgery, so we couldn't throw with him as much as we would like," Underwood told USA Today. "We're going to try to speed up the process. We're all going to throw ... just working on timing and get that down pat before camp."
Underwood, Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant signed with Carolina as free agents. "We're just going to do what we did in [organized team activities] and minicamp, just come in each day and go to work," Underwood said. "That's it. Don't worry about what the media is saying [about Carolina having one of the weakest groups of receivers in the league]. Don't worry about what even your own family is saying. You've got to block it out. Just go to work."
While Newton didn't throw to his receivers much during OTAs, he spent a lot of time with them in the film room and in team meetings. He took offense to criticism they received from the media.
"Those guys have already accepted the challenge," Newton said early in OTAs. "You don't need to go in there and tell those guys, 'Hey, you're projected the sorriest receiver [group] in the NFL.' We already know [what people are saying]. But with that, those guys have that fire in their eyes. I'd rather for those guys to be like that and for them to go out and bust their tails like they've been doing. It's kind of like a slap in -- not only their faces -- but mine, as well."