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Newton sleeps with his Carolina playbook

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports

LOS ANGELES – Over the past few weeks Cam Newton(notes) has had a constant companion to help ease the tedium of the NFL lockout.

The Carolina Panthers' playbook.

Although the No.1 overall draft pick has been prevented from speaking to and working out with his new coaches, a momentary thaw in the labor dispute enabled him to get his hands on a copy of the football bible that will enable him to do his job.

Newton, who will compete with Jimmy Clausen(notes) for the starting quarterback position, told Yahoo! Sports on Friday that he has studied the playbook so relentlessly that he has even taken it to bed at night.

“You are learning all over again,” Newton said. “Me and the book got to know each other pretty well. I am getting on pretty good with it. It is not easy, but it's not meant to be. Do I [sleep with it]? Sometimes.”

The lockout has led to uncertainty among all players, but especially for rookies waiting to find out when they can begin to flex their muscles at the highest level.

Newton left Auburn under extreme scrutiny, having led the Tigers to a national title in January after becoming embroiled in a controversy whereby his father was accused of soliciting money from colleges, threatening his eligibility. As much as perhaps anyone, Newton, 22, wants the labor dispute to end so he can prove himself on the field.

“It is a strange time,” he said. “No one really knows what is going on and everyone is wondering what is going to happen. It is natural, it is what everyone is thinking about.

“It’s like a case of curiosity killed the duck. But having something to focus on has helped me. You want something to pass your time. But this [playbook] gives me an opportunity. I can focus on this and use it as a way to occupy my time while helping myself and helping my team when the time comes.”

Newton’s ability to mentally adapt to the pro game has been questioned. Auburn’s relatively simple offense is a world removed from what he can expect in Carolina. Reading and reacting to defenses will be much more difficult. The challenges facing the College Park, Ga. native are plentiful.

However, he insisted that his pedigree as a winner, proven especially during the second half of the 2010 season, will enable him to justify the hype and expectations while silencing the doubters.

“When you come from that kind of situation where you were pushed, and came out of it and came through a winner, it makes you believe in yourself,” said Newton, speaking at an NFL event for top rookies at an elementary school in Santa Monica, Calif. “I always had belief, but every experience, good or bad, makes you stronger.

“I believe I can be successful at [the] pro level and I just wanted to get started with Carolina. The best way to represent yourself is to get out there. I am looking forward to the chance to do that.”

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