Former Auburn QB Newton draws rave reviews for workout

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Enjoying the San Diego sunshine and saying that he's "shooting for greatness," Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton gave the media a glimpse of the workouts he's going through daily as he prepares for the NFL combine and draft.

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Wearing gray shorts, a black long-sleeve T-shirt and orange cleats, Newton did agility drills and then threw passes to a handful of receivers for nearly 45 minutes at a suburban high school on Thursday.

Newton has been in San Diego since late January, working six days a week with quarterbacks coach George Whitfield Jr. and receiving advice from Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon.

While his passes looked crisp, there's a lot for Newton to work on. Chief among them is taking snaps from under center. He often took snaps in the shotgun formation as he ran the spread offense at Auburn, which he led to the BCS national title.

Newton said he's working on "the whole grand scheme of playing quarterback in the NFL. A lot of times I probably can count on one hand the times I took a snap from under center in one game. But now it depends what scheme you go into, but at the same time you have to be able to get a snap from under center and be fluent at it. That's one of the first things we tried to tackle."

Asked if he was surprised some people don't think his skills won't translate to the NFL, he replied: "That's the competitor that I am. I won't be surprised -- I'm making that leap right now -- until I'm a Super Bowl champion. That's what I'm going for from Day One, reaching for greatness. The supporting cast that I have is pushing me to be great, I'm pushing myself to be great and I demand greatness for myself. So coming in the door, working out every single day, I'm shooting for greatness."

NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock didn't attend the workout, but believes the questions about Newton aren't about his physical skills.

"To me, there are two issues with this kid," Mayock said. "He came out of a shotgun (offense). ... Can he adapt, can he process and assimilate a very structured and complex pro offense against a pro defense?

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"Secondly and most importantly, when you get to a certain skill level in the NFL, which (Newton) certainly has at the quarterback position, what kind of kid is he? Is he going to be the first guy in the building, a gym rat, football smart and a leader of men? All of those things are more important to me than a workout in shorts."

Whitfield said the session was "a snapshot of his training. He's been working really hard at this. He is an excitable kid. He's been pumped for this."

Whitfield worked with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his four-game suspension.

While Whitfield is Newton's coach, Moon described his role as a mentor.

"But if I see something that I can help him improve on, I'm going to do that," Moon said.

During the session, Moon picked up on something and told Newton.

"He wasn't transferring well," Moon said afterward. "He was throwing leaning backward. Even though he has a very strong arm, I don't care how strong of an arm you have, if you're not in the right throwing motion, you're not going to get good accuracy on the football, the ball is going to go high on you. As soon as he gets that weight transferred, he throws the ball as accurately as anyone you've been around."

Moon isn't at every session, but Whitfield films every workout and sends it to him.

"I just see him improving," Moon said. "Every day he does something a little bit better than he did the day before, whether it's taking the snap from center or whether it's transferring his weight from dropping back to throwing the football. That's where he's making his biggest adjustment, to me, is being able to drop back, because that's something he's never had to do, and then transfer that weight forward to get velocity behind your throws and also to get accuracy."

Newton usually does throwing with Whitfield in the morning and then does classroom work and speed work in the afternoon.

Trent Dilfer, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who's now a TV analyst, gushed about Newton's workout.

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"I couldn't be more impressed. For one, I think this whole thing is genius," Dilfer said of the workout in front of the media. "People are knocking it. I think it's brilliant.

"He is a special talent," Dilfer said. "He's uniquely gifted. To be this much of a puppy, I mean, he hasn't played a lot of true quarterback in his life; to be this refined mechanically, you don't see this very often. This is the top of the top of the top. That's what you're looking at."

Mayock added a sobering cautionary note.

"That is the best pro day for a quarterback I ever attended was JaMarcus Russell," he said. "That same day, even though I admitted it was the best pro day I ever saw, I also said I wouldn't take him in the first round. For me, it's not about him throwing in shorts. It's about a lot of other things."

A month removed from Auburn's BCS title game victory over Oregon, Newton said he's approaching things as a professional athlete.

"This whole transformation from the college level to the NFL is a big leap," he said. "But at the same time, you have to be mature enough to be able to work on your talent when nobody is looking. This is your profession, this is your job. And I have to come at it every single day trying to get better at what I do."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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