SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Captain Munnerlyn has no doubt that ex-teammate Cam Newton will bounce back from a shoulder injury in a big way this season.
All it took to convince Munnerlyn was watching Newton step up in the pocket and uncork a 50-yard strike to a streaking Curtis Samuel down the middle of the field, one of the biggest highlights of Tuesday’s joint practice between the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills at Wofford College.
“It’s like night and day — just night and day. His arm looks a whole lot better,” said Munnerlyn, who played cornerback the last two seasons for Carolina before signing with the Bills.
Munnerlyn watched firsthand as Newton struggled with shoulder soreness during the second half of the 2018 season.
The Panthers QB could barely throw the ball 20 yards downfield and had to be subbed out on Hail Mary passes. Newton wound up missing the final two games before undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in January.
“You can tell he has been working,” Munnerlyn said. “To see him come back from that injury. ... I know it has been tough for him. But to see him come back like he has, I’m expecting big things from him.”
Along with the deep throw, Newton was effective running Carolina’s hurry-up offense during one team drill, completing a series of short intermediate passes to keep the chains moving.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera also liked what he saw from Newton and the first-team offense in what was the first two of two practices against the Bills before the teams meet Friday night in a preseason game in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Watching the offense I thought we handled some things pretty well,” Rivera said. “What is interesting is you get anxious and a little overhyped and I thought that was part of our problem early. Once our guys settled in and got into a little bit of a routine you felt a lot better about things.”
The Panthers and Bills face off Friday night in Charlotte.