Panthers' Cam Newton overcomes slow start in return

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Cam Newton can be streaky, even at his best. That's why it was no surprise to see Newton start off slow Sunday in his first action back since ankle surgery.

By the time Newton left the game, fans had reason to smile. Carolina's fourth-year quarterback led successive touchdown drives during a surprisingly long preseason outing in the Panthers' 28-16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. After Carolina's offense totaled only one yard on its first three drives, Newton received better protection and connected on a few downfield throws.

The final numbers weren't great: 4 of 9 for 65 yards, with two sacks taken and a few errant passes. But Newton found his receivers surprisingly open, and running back Jonathan Stewart ran well when he entered the game.

We'll have to see Newton in the regular season to know how much he truly trusts his ankle. He avoided defenders while under pressure Sunday but didn't look eager to cut it loose during the preseason.

We don't blame him. Newton wants to get his practice done in the pocket during practice games. Newton probably only has one more preseason appearance left before the real stuff starts.

The latest "Around the League Podcast" talks quarterback battles and debates the gang's preseason power rankings.

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