Ron Rivera has a lot of good things to say about Cam Newton after working with the quarterback for nine seasons with the Panthers.
Rivera, now coaching in Washington, said Monday that Newton, now working in New England, looks poised to rebound from a foot injury that limited him to two games in 2019.
“He’s probably about as healthy as it gets from what I’ve seen on video, so I think he’s ready to bust out, I really do,” Rivera told Chicago radio station WSCR-AM. “I would never bet against the young man, that’s for sure.”
Rivera went into Newton’s career development to explain why Newton will be motivated to show he can still play at a high level.
“Don’t bet against him,” is what Rivera would say to doubters.
“You’ve got to know who he is and understand what he’s gone through,” Rivera added. “He’s a guy that’s always tried to do things, I think, because he’s felt the pressure.
“He felt the pressure of being the No. 1 pick (in the 2011 draft). He’s felt the pressure of having won the Heisman Trophy and being the No. 1 pick. He’s felt the pressure of being a Black quarterback with all the stuff that’s been heaped on him. And he’s really had to find his way through it, and he’s done a great job with it.”
Newton, 31, reportedly agreed to a deal Sunday with the Patriots that is loaded with incentives that could push the final amount to $7.5 million. Rivera believes that Newton would have attracted much more interest had he been able to work out for teams last spring. The Panthers cut Newton on March 24 after trying to trade him. The coronavirus pandemic eliminated the possibility of private workouts and delayed a Newton physical.
Rivera said that health would not have kept him from making a run at Newton for his new team. The main hindrance instead was a commitment to developing Dwayne Haskins, Washington’s first-round draft pick last year.
“I would have been very confident and comfortable in going after (Newton) and bringing him (in) to be part of what we’re doing here,” Rivera said.