Rivera expects Cam Newton to fight limited running

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ron Rivera wants the Carolina Panthers offense to be a different version of itself in 2017.

Speaking Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Rivera reiterated that he wanted quarterback Cam Newton to run less and limit the pounding of the 6-foot-5 quarterback's body.

"One thing we don't want to do is overexpose our quarterback as a runner," Rivera said. "And so we have to go ahead and look to change some of the things that we do. Some of our philosophies, obviously, have to be a little different when it comes to running the football."

Asked if Newton might fight the decision to take away some of his running opportunities, Rivera replied:

"Oh yeah, without a doubt. I promise you that's going to happen. He wants the football. But again, we have to be very dogged in terms of what we are going to do with him and how we are going to do it. We have to pick and choose. It's got to be the right situations and circumstances. But again, him, he wants to succeed, he wants to do things that help this football team to win."

Newton carried the ball a career-low 90 times in 2016 after 100-plus attempts in each of his first five seasons. The 27-year-old signal-caller dealt with shoulder issues down the stretch of the season that limited his practice reps.

Later Rivera said from what he's heard, Newton has had a "good offseason" while working on "strength and conditioning" while potentially slimming down this offseason.

"I'd like to see him more flexible. Especially through the shoulders because that seemed to be where he had a lot of his problems," Rivera said. "Get that shoulder strength back up, get that shoulder flexibility back, more so than anything else, and continue to keep himself at that specific weight that he feels most comfortable at."

After taking a pounding throughout his career, the Panthers focus this season is curtailing the hits Newton takes, which could mean substantial changes in offensive philosophy this upcoming offseason.

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