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Cam Newton has a lot more respect for Ted Ginn Jr.'s speed than 'Madden 17'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The subject was on how fast Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. looked for a 31-year-old on his 61-yard touchdown catch in Saturday’s exhibition win at Tennessee.

It quickly turned to "Madden 17."

Yes, NFL players pay attention to the ratings. At least Carolina quarterback Cam Newton does.

“Let’s just hope he has his Madden speed up," the NFL MVP said after the 26-16 victory. “Last year, I was so disappointed in that."

Ginn will tell you he’s the fastest member of the Panthers and one of the fastest in the NFL. A former track star, he recently reminded people he once was on a high school relay team that beat Usain Bolt.

But according to "Madden 17," Ginn isn’t even the fastest member of the Panthers. He has a speed rating of 92, a notch below cornerback Teddy Williams at 93.

Heck, Ginn is tied with wide receiver Stephen Hill, coming off a season-ending knee injury.

Among NFL receivers with a Madden rating of 60 or better, 29 ranked ahead of Ginn in speed. Indianapolis’ Phillip Dorsett, New Orleans’ Brandin Cooks, Arizona’s J.J. Nelson and Miami’s Jakeem Grant lead with a rating of 96.

Newton isn’t buying it.

“He's probably one of the fastest guys in the NFL ... that's not a reach," Newton said. “Of course, they'll point out his age."

As for Newton’s disappointment, Madden gave Ginn a bump in speed from an 88 after the former first-round pick out of Ohio State had a career-best 10 touchdown catches in 2015.

Overall Ginn didn’t get much respect, moving from 75 to 77.

But Ginn gets plenty of props from Newton, who noted Carolina “is probably the only team that has used him at the receiver position the way he was supposed to be used."

“So much of his career, he's been labeled a return specialist," Newton said. “In the return game, you probably have one or two opportunities to prove yourself, so that leaves a lot of tread on the tires for him in Year 9 or 10. And he has a background in track and is one of the best guys as far as taking care of his body."

Ginn credits receivers coach Ricky Proehl for resurrecting a career that appeared dead after six seasons between Miami and San Francisco in which he had only six touchdown catches.

Ginn had five touchdowns in 2013, his first season with Proehl, earning him a big contract with Arizona. After catching only 14 passes and no touchdowns in 2014, Ginn was released and picked up by Carolina.

He responded with 44 catches, the second most of his career, and 10 touchdowns. Only eight wide receivers reached the end zone more.

Ginn filled a big hole with No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin out with a knee injury. With Benjamin back and second-year receiver Devin Funchess emerging, Ginn showed against the Titans there’s still a spot for a speedy 31-year-old.

The threat of Ginn to get behind the secondary opens up the underneath routes for Benjamin, Funchess and tight end Greg Olsen.

If need be, Ginn can go underneath and turn a midrange pass into a long touchdown as he did Saturday.

“After I made the guy miss, I knew I only had one safety to beat," Ginn said nonchalantly. “He took a bad angle and the rest was history."

Ginn is confident as well as fast. The Madden game creators just haven't recognized his full explosiveness.

But the video game has recognized the reigning NFC champions. The Panthers may be fifth in ESPN’s latest Power Rankings, but they are tied for first with New England in the "Madden 17" rankings.

Newton wasn’t a top-tier quarterback in ESPN’s rankings, but "Madden 17" has him tied for second with New England’s Tom Brady at 94. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is No. 1 at 96.

Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly was one of four players with a 99 rating, the highest possible. The other three were New England tight end Rob Gronkowski, Denver outside linebacker Von Miller and Houston defensive end J.J. Watt.

If you’re into Madden the way Newton is, here’s a look at the overall rating of other Carolina players:

TE Greg Olsen 93

DT Kawann Short 92

OLB Thomas Davis 89

C Ryan Kalil 89

S Kurt Coleman 87

RB Jonathan Stewart 87

RG Trai Turner 87

PK Graham Gano 89

WR Kelvin Benjamin 83

LG Andrew Norwell 83

DE Charles Johnson 82

CB Bene' Benwikere 80

DT Paul Soliai 80

DE Kony Ealy 79

DT Star Lotulelei 79

S Tre Boston 78

LT Michael Oher 78

FB Mike Tolbert 78

WR Philly Brown 77

WR Ted Ginn Jr. 77

P Mike Scifres 77

DE Mario Addison 76

RT Mike Remmers 76

OLB Shaq Thompson 75

WR Devin Funchess 74

OLB A.J. Klein 74

TE Ed Dickson 73

CB James Bradberry 70

WR Brenton Bersin 69

CB Daryl Worley 68

WR Stephen Hill 62