Cam Newton focused on improving completion percentage

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton stepped in front of reporters on Saturday wearing a "Change the Culture" T-shirt and a red custom-made hat with the words "Keep Pounding" on the side."

But for the Panthers to get back to the Super Bowl form they had in 2015, Newton has to change his mindset and accept the system new offensive coordinator Norv Turner is implementing.

Turner's goal is to change a quarterback who has completed 58.5 percent of his passes since Carolina made him the first pick of the 2011 draft into a more efficient player who can complete 65 to 70 percent of his attempts.

Newton, nicknamed "Ace Boogie," said Turner's scheme is "Boogie approved" and that reaching a 65 to 70 percent completing percentage "absolutely" is "realistic."

"That's the goal of mine, and it's certainly attainable," the 2015 NFL MVP said in his first interview on football since the end of last season. "Just off the premise of watching film and doing certain things ... just trusting the process, just trusting the process and getting out of my head at certain times.

"Playing quarterback, if your mind is not clear or anything, you can kind of overthink things. Just because I completed this one time, you may not think you can complete it again. But truth be told, you can do it as many times as the defense is giving it to you. That has to be my mentality."

That doesn't necessarily mean Newton, who has rushed for more yards than any quarterback in the league since 2011, will run less than he has in past years.

It does mean that with more high-percentage passes in the new system and an offseason of upgrading the talent and speed around Newton, it is up to the quarterback to perform.

"We have a lot of talent on the offensive side and guys that can take it 2 yards and turn it into 20 yards, and hopefully more than that," Newton said. "It starts with me, and I have to be able to trust those guys and get the ball to them."

Newton hasn't always trusted the talent around him, choosing to run when his first couple of options weren't open. He has shown in the first two days of training camp more patience in terms of going through all of his progressions.

"He's been very consistent," coach Ron Rivera said. "He's taken what the defense gives him. He's throwing the ball underneath. The nice thing about throwing the ball underneath is he's getting the ball into the hands of guys that can make plays from there.

"That's one of the things he's learning, and a big part is the emphasis Norv is putting on certain things. He's done a nice job. He's listened very well. He's still going to do the things that Cam does, but at the same time you're adding a little more to what he does, how he does it."