Panthers haven’t ruled out Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick

New Carolina coach Ron Rivera said, "Bring it on Falcons." (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

New Carolina coach Ron Rivera said, "Bring it on Falcons." (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

INDIANAPOLIS – “Team AJC” has arrived at the 2011 NFL scouting combine.

Today, the following position groups will stream through the interview room: Offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long snappers and  tight ends.

Lucas Oil

Some team executives have been through already. Denver coach John Fox just finished. A. Detroit coach Jim Schwartz is finished. (I’m going to ask him about Chris Houston and Erik Coleman when he gets off the podium.)

Miami’s Jeff Ireland, Buffalo’s Chan Gailey and new Carolina coach Ron Rivera have already spoken to the gathered media.

Rivera didn’t rule out the Panthers selecting Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, of Westlake High, with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

“There are  8 to 10  young men that we feel fit our needs real well,” Rivera said. “We’ll explore every avenue with them. We are going to try to keep an open mind with everybody we deal with.”

He’s believes the Panthers will face an uphill battle in the NFC South with the Falcons, Saints and Bucs all coming off 10-win seasons.

The Media Entrance at Lucas Oil Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVI, you know if there isn't a lockout. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

The Media Entrance at Lucas Oil Stadium, site of Super Bowl XLVI, you know if there isn't a lockout. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

“It’s going to most certainly be a challenge,” Rivera said.

He also addressed whether wide receiver Steve Smith will be retained by the Panthers.

“Steve is a Carolina Panther,” Rivera said. “Let us put it all together and see if it works first.”

Rivera, who interviewed for the Falcons head coaching position before they hired Bobby Petrino for the 2007 season, could have been in the NFC South earlier.

“I’m very excited and it’s great to have the opportunity,” Rivera  said.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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162 comments Add your comment

DC

February 25th, 2011
8:45 am

Dawgin’ not to defend him…but maybe if we had some form of intellectual debates about whatever we are discussing it might be easier…

But seems everyone has bunch of opinions w/o facts just to get a rise out of each other…gets old after while

This past season is over. We are national champs. UGA went 6-7. UGA looks like it will be on the rise this year. AU looks like it will have an average year this year. Why all this drama nonsense…

DawginLex

February 25th, 2011
9:18 am

DC,

When WDE stops being a smartalec and bashing UGA, I’ll stop returning the favor. He won’t. He is a first rate smarta$$.

He ruins every blog he participates in. 100%. Every time.

I enjoy talking about sports with everyone but trying to discuss anything with him is a big waste of time.

DaMan

February 25th, 2011
9:38 am

Heard a funny comment on a Birmingham sports radio referring to the Alabama football team as the Alabama “Updykes”, so it should be an interesting game next year to say the least…,poor guy is living in his car…..

D man

February 25th, 2011
9:49 am

Cam will be a bust because he starts to slow when he runs, doesn’t throw that great and reminds me of Vince Young and Demarcus Russell. BUST…

ATLSN

February 25th, 2011
9:56 am

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We have team forums for the Falcons, Bulldogs, Hawks, Braves, Yellow Jackets, Thrashers, etc. Please register and post! Be apart of a huge site in the early days of existence. See ya there! We’re looking for posters, moderators, bloggers/writers. Join up if interested.

Sid

February 25th, 2011
10:25 am

Can Joe Fish take the Wonderlic? Oh, sorry, you have to be able to read first……..

He thinks it’s something altogether different anyway.

oledawg

February 25th, 2011
11:57 am

Cam Newton has Jamarcus Russell written all over him———plus he’s not the brightest bulb on the tree———-he’ll never be able to read an NFL defense——-never. Someone is going to smack that smile right off his face, and then we’ll all see how he responds. Take it to the bank.

DC

February 25th, 2011
2:08 pm

everyone says hes not that smart..due to what?…what he did back in florida…in school…what has he done on the field?…a lot! What has he done with reading converages etc…

When defenses shut down his running game..what did he do? Picked apart the secondary with average wide receivers…look at some of his throws he did that were bullets flat footed…so your assumption he wont be able to read defenses is a big bias based on little or no facts..

Sounds more like sour grapes from a UGA fan. Respect his game…if you were the most dominant force in college football..don’t tell me you wouldn’t walk around on the field with a little swagger..all the greats have..people hate him b/c he is the “it” guy..just like Tebow and just like any other dominant player in the game. Unless he plays for your team..you’re gonna hate him..b/c your team isn’t winning.

Missing Link

February 25th, 2011
2:18 pm

Just don’t leave you laptop any where in the same room with him and if the man shows up, he’ll throw it out the window like he did at the University of Felons (Uof F)

lech112

February 26th, 2011
1:58 pm

Picking Newton #1 overall would be interesting, but not the smartest thing the Panthers could do. http://bit.ly/NFLMockDraft2

woebegong

February 27th, 2011
2:34 pm

I just watched Cam’s quarterback workouts at the combine. It appears he has a lot of physical talent, with his strength and speed. What he doesn’t have is a real good handle on how to drop back in a 3,5 or 7 step dropback. He had problems throwing a pass over 15 yards because of that. The only pass he did good in was a short button hook type pass. I think he will learn the skills if coached right, but if I am looking for immediate help at QB for my team, I think I might pass. He is going to be good if he can translate his physical prowness into a NFL type quarterback, but he is not ready right now.
One thing I noticed with these NFL coaches and assistants at this combine, is the fact that a couple of them said that the 40 time is not really important for a QB. Why do they do it then? I guess they are more concerned with pocket presence and foot work.

WDE HATER

February 28th, 2011
9:23 am

you are lame, you are probally fat as crap sitting at your computer with grease dripping down your face, you’re the most ignorant person i have ever sadly had to come across, so what if UGA went 6-7 you’d never be good enough to play D3 community college football you grease trap