Mike McCarthy knows quarterbacks.
He coached the NFL’s first three-time MVP, Brett Favre, and last year’s Super Bowl MVP, Aaron Rodgers. At Kansas City, he was a quality-control assistant when Joe Montana was quarterback and was quarterbacks coach for Rich Gannon, who was named league MVP for Oakland in 2002.
So, count the Green Bay Packers' coach as one of those who came away impressed from Cam Newton’s record-setting NFL debut as the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback.
"422. That was impressive,” McCarthy said on Monday after watching Newton complete 24-of-37 passes for 422 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in a 28-21 loss at Arizona on Sunday. “I think Cam Newton was very impressive. For the young man to go out there in his first game and put up the numbers that he did, it looked like he was very much in control of their offense.”
Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy last season in leading Auburn to the national title, was the No. 1 overall pick of April’s draft. In the past, McCarthy has scouted the top collegiate quarterbacks — he was at Oklahoma for Sam Bradford’s pro day last year, for instance — though he didn’t see Newton or this year’s other quarterback prospects after getting a late start on his offseason.
Still, the first impression was a good one as Newton became the first quarterback to throw for 400 yards in his debut.
“It's difficult, there's no doubt about it, especially without an offseason,” McCarthy said, alluding to the lockout that took away six weeks of offseason practices that would have helped prepare Newton for Sunday. “It's a credit to their coaching staff, and it's a credit to Cam to get out there and perform at that level, the circumstances of this year's offseason. I was very impressed.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.