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Cam Newton throws in practice for first time since March surgery

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton left himself plenty of room for improvement on Wednesday night after throwing in practice for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery in March.

But overall he and others were pleased with the way the 2015 NFL MVP looked in the first practice of training camp.

"Another step in the process,'' Newton said. "It's a start. Everything felt good, but we have a long way to go to get where I know we can be. Tonight was just fun getting out on the grass in front of the fans and throwing it around a little bit."

The only throwing Newton has done since having surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder has been with team trainer Ryan Vermillion and some teammates last week in Baltimore.

A glimpse of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throwing in a team practice for the first time since undergoing March surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.

David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer

While he didn't make any really deep throws on Wednesday, Newton showed decent command of the short and intermediate passes.

He seemed comfortable making check-down throws and screen passes to get the ball into the hands of playmakers such as first-round draft pick Christian McCaffrey.

It's part of the evolution of the offense to make Newton less involved in the running game out of the read-option.

"I thought Cam looked very good,'' Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "He looked a little rusty early on. His timing was off a little bit. But as he practiced more you could see he started to get comfortable back there.

"We do have him on a pitch count, obviously. He was a couple of throws under it, but he looked good.''

Offensive coordinator Mike Shula said Newton threw about 20 passes during 7-on-7 and team drills. His first pass in team drills was a short completion to tight end Ed Dickson on the left side.

His next was intercepted by second-year cornerback James Bradberry on the right side.

"Anytime you miss time you've got to get the cobwebs out, pick up the timing, seeing things and all that,'' Shula said. "But for the most part, for the first day, it was pretty good.''

Newton is coming off statistically the worst season of his career. He completed a career-worst 52.9 percent of his passes and threw only 19 touchdowns one year after throwing a career-best 35.

It was such a bad season for the offense overall that Rivera said Newton needed to rebuild his confidence around what the team is trying to accomplish.

He already has seen signs of that happening.

"It's very high right now,'' Rivera said.

What's down is Newton's weight. He arrived at camp at 246 pounds, one pound more than the 245 he was listed as a rookie. He has been in the 260-pound range at least the past couple of seasons.

But his arm was the focus on Wednesday, and the reviews were good.

"He's gifted, and that's what's made him a pretty good quarterback,'' Shula said. "He's not there yet. The thing we have to do is ... just not try to do too much. As a coach, you always want a guy to get as many reps as he can, especially at that position.

"But he has six years of experience to dwell on, and that's going to help him get caught up. Our goal is to have him ready for the opener.''