Hyped QB Newton makes up for combine at Auburn pro day

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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For Cam Newton, Auburn's pro day was all about having a second chance to make a first impression.

The Heisman Trophy winner underwhelmed in his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis nine days ago, but he seized the opportunity at his school Tuesday, showcasing the arm strength and footwork that have some in the sport projecting him as a cross between Michael Vick and Ben Roethlisberger.

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"I feel comfortable," Newton said in an exclusive post-workout interview with NFL Network's Mike Mayock. "... It's an atmosphere you just can't beat. Being back at home and just having fun playing the game of football."

Newton was the featured attraction at Auburn's pro day, working out for 48 minutes in front of representatives from all 32 teams (approximately 125 personnel members), including five head coaches -- Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers), John Fox (Denver Broncos), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals), Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals) and Pat Shurmur (Cleveland Browns).

Newton is widely viewed to be a raw talent, but he flashed some NFL-ready skills Tuesday while throwing into a cutting Alabama wind. He was on target on the intermediate route throws he rarely had to make while leading the Tigers' spread offense to the BCS national championship last season.

Unofficially, Newton threw 53 passes with receivers running routes and completed 42 of them with a few drops and several overthrows, including a couple on deep sideline routes. He was 10 for 10 before that.

Newton's personal coach, George Whitfield Jr., called out a checklist of plays, then asked if there were any more that NFL officials wanted to see.

"That was his routine today. Go through it. Attack everything," said Whitfield, who has been working with Newton in San Diego. "And I thought he did that. He had fun. He's laughing, he's playing. I kind of think playing back here at Jordan-Hare (Stadium) maybe added a little bit to his comfort level, and hey, he's a very, very proud athlete and he's a very competitive guy.

"If Michael Jordan one night scores 20 points, you best believe the next team that he faces is going to have deal with 45 going in. I think that's the kind of mindset Cam had today."

Whitfield said new Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer -- who might be looking to replace another mobile quarterback, Vince Young -- and Whisenhunt asked for more throws from Newton.

Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix told The Associated Press that he saw what he wanted to out of Newton, but he emphasized that much more goes into drafting a player.

"Workouts are a small piece of the puzzle," said Nix, a former Auburn coach. "We go by how they play. Throwing's good. You can tell something about his release and you can tell something about his arm, but the only way you can tell if a guy can play quarterback is when he's being rushed and you've got coverage and you've got to throw it in a tight spot. That's kind of what we go by, 80 percent probably."

Newton said repetition helped put him more at ease than he was at the combine.

"It was just being able to throw more balls (on) a consistent basis," he told Mayock. "That's big for so many people, and you know, I thought it was big for me, just staying in the rhythm and getting a chance to go back and redeem yourself, so to speak, if you have a mistake."

Newton looked to "redeem" himself in the wake of his combine performance, where he struggled with footwork and accuracy. He didn't do himself any favors in the days leading up to the NFL-run event, when he said in an interview that his goal was to be seen as "an entertainer and an icon."

Newton appeared to put the disappointments of his Lucas Oil Stadium exploits in the rearview mirror Tuesday, and he came away from his pro day pleased that the work he has done with Whitfield is yielding positive results.

"We know they were challenging routes, but George felt that we were capable of making those routes," Newton said. "And for me to be able to show everyone that I'm capable of throwing those routes on a consistent basis and being exact every single time, not sporadic, (just) showing your accuracy.

"That was our focus to come out here and do. Show the arm, show the accuracy, (so) people can see what I have been working on."

Up next for Newton are private workouts, giving him another chance to sell himself as a can't-miss talent. The Carolina Panthers have the first overall pick in April's NFL draft.

"I'm just a blessed individual to be a part of something so great and have the opportunity (to) be able to go on, push forward to living my dream," Newton said.

The 5½-hour pro day also provided another showcase for Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Like Newton, the Lombardi Trophy winner participated only in the position drills, letting his 40-yard dash time and other performances from the combine stand.

"If anybody can tell if a guy can play football running through those dummies, he's better than I am," Nix said. "But you do see athletic ability. He's got great ability and good feet and speed and burst and all those things. He's a good player. He makes plays on Saturday, and he'll make them again on Sunday."

Fairley said he believed the day went "real well." He's still having trouble growing accustomed to talking with NFL coaches.

"It feels weird," he said. "I see those guys on TV, and then those guys actually come and talk to me. It feels kind of good."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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