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Carolina Panthers News: Kenjon Barner, Cam Newton

The Carolina Panthers drafted former Oregon Ducks superstar running back Kenjon Barner with the 182th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and the big question is how the Panthers utilize Barner, who is a contentious pick among Panthers fans. Some believe that Barner was a luxury the Panthers didn’t need to get due to the investment in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, while others like the new wrinkle that Barner adds to the Panthers offense and view him as something different from a true running back. Whatever the case, the Panthers surely have something in mind for Barner, and new GM Dave Gettleman called Barner a “little scatback”, which is really the only hint we have regarding the Panthers plans for Barner.

While head coach Ron Rivera did not offer any more clues as to what Barner’s role will be in Charlotte, he did call Barner and fifth-round Iowa State Cyclones linebacker A.J. Klein “value picks”. From the Charlotte Observer, ““We really do feel that was a value pick. We feel our last two picks (Klein and former Oregon RB Kenjon Barner) were value guys.”

The interesting thing is that Rivera praised both Klein and Barner for their consistency in college, and he said that both will be “contributors”  but that they “may not be superstars”. That isn’t giving us much, but I feel like the Panthers are going to use Barner in different ways and alignments to throw off defenses; I think Barner is going to be used as the Panthers sparkplug in the backfield.

By the way, I would highly recommend reading the post above due to the quotes from A.J Klein, as he talks about the fact that he had a chip on his shoulder when he went to play for Iowa State.

Cam Newton, like most quarterbacks, is the biggest figure on the team, but that’s even more stated in Carolina due to the fact that this team’s success truly hinges on the polarizing, high upside QB. Rob Chudzinski’s departure to take on the head coaching position with the Cleveland Browns left former quarterback’s coach Mike Shula promoted to the OC gig, and it leaves Panthers fans with questions. Will Shula be able to work with Newton mentally? (Chud had a huge role working with Newton in that regard.) Will Shula be able to successfully lead this offense and further help Newton succeed?

The most important thing with Newton is likely how he approaches the game mentally, especially after some apparent lapses early on in 2012. Shula shed some light on that with some great info, “Probably the biggest thing for him is maintaining that balance. Because everything around you during the football season is going to be up and down.”

The more you can continue to stay on an even plane and lead the group of guys around you, the more effective you are going to be as a quarterback,” said Shula.

Shula said he enjoys coaching Cam Newton, and I like the continuity there and apparently good connection that both coordinator and quarterback have going on. It sounds like Shula wants Newton to stay relaxed, be more consistent, focus on moving the chains, and also focus on being solid and not turning the ball over. It sounds like Shula wants to reign in Newton a little bit, and I think this is the next step for Newton in fulfilling his potential.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter for more NFL updates and analysis @SorianoJoe.

Tags: Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Kenjon Barner Mike Shula Ron Rivera

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