CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Any question that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton would have a clean bill of health for Sunday’s opener against the Los Angeles Rams was answered Wednesday when the 2015 NFL MVP did not appear on the team’s injury report.
If that wasn’t enough, then Newton’s big, familiar smile said the rest.
“I feel like a rookie again,” said the 30-year-old Newton, who is entering his ninth NFL season. “I’m having fun, feeling good, and the thrill is still there.”
Newton suffered a sprained left foot in the third preseason game that initially had his status for Sunday in question. But the injury healed quickly, and coach Ron Rivera said there will be no limitations on the offense because of his quarterback’s health — either the foot or the right shoulder that he had surgery on in January.
“No reason to,” Rivera said. “He’s in great shape. He’s right where we need him to be. He’s thrown the ball very well. He’s been very sharp, as has the team as a whole.
“I really do feel good about what he’s done. I love the work he’s put into it. He’s done a great job, and we’ll see how it all plays out on Sunday.”
Newton credits a change in his diet earlier this year to why he’s feeling so good.
“Vegan. Vegan strong,” Newton said. “That helps a lot. I’ve been a vegan all year, and I don’t think I’m going back. I feel good. I recover well. And that’s pretty much what it’s all about.
“It’s not putting certain things in your body that is going to combat your body trying to recover. You want to put things in your body that is going to expedite that whole process.”
“First off, I’ve got a beef with all three of them, really,” he said. “They’ve got this thing right now where they’re a part of the rat pack, cat pack, whatever it is. And I was thinking they need like a lead singer, like The Temptations.
“David Ruffin was in The Temptations. It was David Ruffin and The Temptations. I was saying they’ve got to add me to it, Ace Boogie. … If they want to sell records, if they want to get noticed … they need to implement me in some type of way.”
But Newton’s focus, as he said when asked about the foot injury, is the Rams and getting back to playing the way he did before the shoulder sidelined him for the final two games last season.
“We just want to execute,” Newton said. “We want to get back to playing Carolina Panthers football, and that’s staying on rhythm. We want to get back to doing things we want to do when we want to do them.”