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Cam Newton learned 'a lot' from Tim Tebow at Florida

It's been more than four years since Cam Newton and Tim Tebow were teammates at the University of Florida. They haven't kept in contact since, but Newton says he still looks back fondly on their time together.

"There's a lot that I've learned from Tim and his professionalism," Newton said. "You know how his approach is to this game, and that's one thing everybody has to respect about him -- and I certainly do."

The two quarterbacks will renew acquaintances Sunday night when the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets face off in a preseason game. Newton downplayed the meeting with Tebow. But the Panthers haven't downplayed the importance of playing the third preseason game on national television.

"I feel as if every stage is big for us this year," Newton said. "We have a point to prove, and we have to have that chip on our shoulder each and every game."

Newton will have to take on the Jets without wide receiver Steve Smith (foot) to help him, and linebacker Jon Beason will be missing from the Panthers' defense.

Despite that, it's a safe bet Newton will wind up with better stats facing the Jets' starters than Tebow will going against the Panthers' backups. The former teammates now are at different stages of their careers.

Newton has a chance to be one of the game's best, starting now. Tebow is just fighting for snaps.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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