The No.1 draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner beat out second-year quarterback Jimmy Clausen in a battle of young signal callers.
The Carolina Panthers obviously drafted Cam Newton No.1 overall this spring with the belief he would be their future franchise quarterback.
Well that future is now as Newton was named the Panthers starting quarterback for the season opener following the team’s 33–17 preseason-finale loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday night. The announcement came on the night Newton produced his best drive — in his only series of the night — of the entire preseason that ended with his first touchdown pass a pro.
“Even with this position given, it doesn’t stop here,” Newton said to reporters afterward. “I can’t just sit back and say, `I’ve arrived,’ because we’ve got a long way to go.… The record begins now.”
First-year coach Ron Rivera’s announcement Thursday night ends the drama about whether the organization would give last year’s second-round pick Jimmy Clausen a little more time at quarterback or if the organization was ready to put the ball in the hands of the quarterback who is fresh off a one-year wonder season at Auburn.
Newton, of course, led the Tigers to the BCS national title this past season in his only year with the program. Panthers fans are hoping he will eventually lead them to Super Bowl championships.
But Rivera is careful to caution not to look too far ahead.
“We didn’t draft Cam to be the savior,” Rivera said. “We drafted him to help lead this football team.”
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