Cam Newton began his NFL career this afternoon leading the Carolina Panthers on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. While there certainly has been a lot of buzz in Carolina over Newton and how he would impact the team, I don't think ANYONE was expecting to see the performance and numbers he put up today.
Newton set a new NFL record for a starting rookie QB - 422 total yards, 18 rushing, 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD and 1 interception. Those are some crazy numbers for any QB in the NFL - rookie or not. I'm not expecting the Panthers to win more than 5 games this season and I really didn't know how Cam would fair in his first NFL start. Certainly no one expects a repeat performance next week in the home opener against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, but this does give us fans in Carolina a potential peek into the future. If former QB Jimmy Clausen hadn't been kicked to the curb yet, I think he has now.
It was also nice to see WR Steve Smith have such a huge game today too. It seems those private sessions that Smith and Newton conducted during the lockout are starting to pay off. Cam looked confident and comfortable standing in the pocket passing and Smith looked equally confident that he would be able to pull down whatever Newton threw in his direction. Sure the Panthers lost...but the game was close, exciting and fun to watch.
On the cardboard front I fully expect to see Cam's cards go crazy on the secondary market after today's game. I wasn't really chasing anything of his that was super fancy as the prices were already high thanks to many speculators. I'll just stick to buying team sets this season and if I get lucky pulling a Newton from a pack then it'll just be icing on the cake.