Cam Newton is a leaner leader in 2013

USA TODAY Sports

Cam's return to school has resulted in a thinned-down version of the Panthers' QB.

Cam Newton will look a little different come this fall, but it's all in an effort to further improve his game. An article by Joe Person, he details how Cam has lost 5-6 pounds this off-season. This puts him at around 245 lbs, which keeps him as one of the largest quarterbacks in the league -- but also allows him to be a little faster on the field.

"I don't know if he did it intentionally or it's a matter of how active he's been," Rivera said, but it's hard to imagine this is a wild coincidence. If anything, the likelihood in being away from Charlotte would have added weight, not lost. Newton didn't look heavy in 2013, but his weight loss points to the larger facet to Cam -- self-improvement.

It's this adherence to honing his game that's often glossed over when discussing Newton as a quarterback. Sure, every QB does work in the off-season, but most fail to realize that he shares the same sensibilities as Peyton Manning when it comes to preseason preparation. He might fall short during the regular season when it comes to getting his team to the playoffs, but Cam is taking the next step to change that.

More encouraging are a few simple words from Person that make a world of difference:

"Rivera said Newton has taken on more of a leadership role in his third season."

This is the final step Cam needs to take in order to transcend being a physically gifted player, and become a dominant quarterback. The towels, the pouting, the sideline spats with Steve Smith -- this is where all that gets erased, and if the light-bulb has come on for Newton as a leader, well, it could be very special.

It remains to be seen whether this weight loss and burgeoning leadership will result in the best Newton we've seen -- but at least he'll be running on well-maintained feet.

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