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Cam Newton thanks Ron Rivera after D.J. Moore pick

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Cam Newton had two words for his coach after the Carolina Panthers selected receiver D.J. Moore in the first round Thursday night:

"Thank you," Newton said in a text, Ron Rivera relayed to the media.

"It was cool to see him react the way he did," Rivera continued about Newton's response, via the team's official website. "We had a great time going through this process. Cam was just constantly needling us. ... Cam stays up on all this stuff, and he came to us with all the offensive guys."

The Panthers gave Newton a potential go-to target who could flourish out of the slot and do damage after the catch -- something they've sorely lacked since jettisoning Steve Smith Sr.

"He's just one of those guys that you just look at and say, 'Boy, is he a good football player,'" general manager Marty Hurney said of his new 6-foot receiver. "He's got the traits we're looking for.

"The trait that stands out probably the most of all his strengths is his ability to run after the catch. When he has the ball in his hands, he turns into a running back. He breaks tackles and big plays, and he still has the ability to stretch the defense and go deep and run good routes. He's got a lot of strengths as a receiver."

The praise for the Moore selection didn't end with the team's quarterback, GM, or coach. Teams always pat themselves on the back for their draft picks.

The most effusive approval came from Smith himself, who believes the Panthers finally replaced him after years of trying and failing.

"You want to know how I feel? They have never been able to replace me," Smith said on NFL Network. "Until now."

For seasons the Panthers have tried to buffer Newton with big targets to help corral the QB's propensity for high throws. Now, Hurney is going in a different direction, bringing in a receiver who mimics the man Newton began his career throwing at. For that, Newton is thankful.

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