In an interview released Tuesday, quarterback Cam Newton compared himself to several of the top athletes in recent memory.
"There has never been a time when I've been on a team—I don't care if I'm playing softball—where I haven't been looked upon to be that guy. And it's hard when it's 14-10, we need a touchdown, it's 3rd-and-2, you're looking at coach, you get the play call, and it's like, 'Come on!'
"It's no different than LeBron [James], Kobe [Bryant], [Michael] Jordan or even [Tom] Brady. My biggest gift in a certain respect is a curse, too."
While Newton will be the biggest key in whether Carolina enjoys a bounce-back campaign in 2017, he conceded that he needs to put a bit less pressure on himself:
"The thing I have to realize is my job is not necessarily to always be the playmaker. I have to give other people opportunities to make plays. That's the hardest thing about maturation, especially for me. So having more comfort in trusting the guys around me is the biggest thing. Trust and knowing my job is giving everybody a chance and letting them do their job as well."
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Newton arguably has the best group of playmakers around him to this point in his career, as rookie running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel will join Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen.
After being named MVP and leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl during the 2015 season, Newton took a step back in 2016.
He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes in throwing for 3,509 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions to go along with 359 yards and five scores on the ground.
Newton underwent shoulder surgery this offseason, but he has begun throwing and is expected to be cleared for training camp if his recovery stays on its current trajectory, per ESPN.com's David Newton.