And he doesn't feel like a No. 1 pick shortchanged by the NFL's new rookie compensation system.
"Welcome to Carolina, Cam!" one shouted.
Newton was all smiles as he ran on the grass, holding his arm up in a No. 1 sign to acknowledge the cheers. Panthers supporters need something like Newton to celebrate after last year's dismal 2-14 finish. He hopes to bring them something special, starting this season.
Newton said how happy he was to be in Carolina and to be back to football. He also wasn't bothered by the rookie wage system, which set his incoming salary per the agreement between NFL owners and players.
"It really doesn't matter," Newton said. "Either way you look at it, I've still got more money than I've ever had."
Newton knows that if he reaches his potential on the football field, he'll make up any financial disparity later.
"In this league, they set standards," Newton said. "If you play the way they're predicting you to play, you're going to be all right either way it goes."
Newton was eager to take the field for his first practice at Wofford College later Saturday and said holding out was never an option, even before the NFL lockout. He spent the time away training, working out with Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith in some private sessions that proved to Newton the team has plenty of offense despite last year's awful showing.
Newton received offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's playbook in April during the short time a judge lifted the lockout. Newton has worked to learn what he can, but he knows he can't really progress until he gets back on the field. He'll wear No. 1 at Panthers camp with quarterback rival Jimmy Clausen wearing No. 2, the jersey number Newton wore at Auburn during the 14-0 BCS national championship season.
Newton said he and Clausen talked about him acquiring No. 2, but in the end believed it was best to start out fresh.
"Rightfully so, since it was his number," Newton said.
He and Clausen have a healthy, friendly relationship so far, and both understand that the quarterback competition will make each one better for the Panthers.
"I don't want to give off a situation where we hate each other's guts and we're just out there running over each other," Newton said. "Jimmy is helping me, and I hope I'm helping Jimmy. We want to bring out the best in each other."
A long sideline throw to Smith drew ooohs and shouts. Newton also had several incompletions, especially when the defense rushed. Afterward, he ran over to the stands and spent about 15 minutes signing shirts, football and posters as young fans screamed his name.
"That's important. The young guys should take advantage of this," he said.
Carolina hopes those cheers continue into the regular season after the team set a franchise low in points scored in 2010. The 6-foot-5 Newton knows he'll have some help with that, starting with Smith.
The Panthers' sometimes prickly receiver had nothing but glowing reviews for Newton in their workouts, which apparently went a long way toward Smith wanting to remain with the team.
"I don't know about you guys, but I don't know that I've ever seen anyone like him," Olsen said of his new quarterback. "Watching him on TV is a whole lot different than seeing him in person. He just has that something about him, that confidence."
Newton hopes he can carry that through camp and into the regular season. He said he's prepared to work as hard as possible to show he's ready for the NFL.
"It's exciting just to be around the football atmosphere again," he said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press