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Gettleman won't hold back 'thoroughbred' Newton

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said at minicamp this week that Cam Newton had the finest practice of his career on Wednesday.

Rivera praised changes in Newton's footwork that have led to better throws. With a career completion percentage hovering around 60 percent, Newton must become a more accurate passer to take his game, and the Panthers, to the next level.

And while Carolina is committed to improving Newton as a thrower as he enters his fifth season, the team doesn't want him to get away from his most natural gift: Running with the football. In a Q&A with The Charlotte Observer, general manager Dave Gettleman was asked if Newton's recent contract extension will lead to him running less in an effort to protect the team's investment.

"No. He's got to be Cam. You don't hold back a thoroughbred, you don't," Gettleman explained. "I don't know if you watched the Belmont. When (American) Pharaoh came around that backstretch and that horse was nipping at his heels, the jockey let him go. He didn't whip him. He's just, 'Go baby!' And that's what a thoroughbred does. You don't change their game. ... You can't do it."

No quarterback in the NFL approaches Newton's ability in the open field. He has rushed for 2,571 yards and 33 touchdowns since entering the league in 2011, all on just 467 attempts. If Newton can make sustained improvements to his passing game -- very possible with a better cast in 2015 -- he'll take his place among the top quarterbacks in the league.

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