Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton is excited as he enters his ninth season in the NFL.
Newton was chosen with the first pick in the 2011 draft and the quarterback has gone on to earn three Pro-Bowl selections and the 2015 NFL MVP.
The 30-year-old also led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015.
Newton spoke to reporters on Wednesday and said he was looking forward to facing the Los Angeles Rams in week one.
“I feel like a rookie again,” Newton said. “I’m having fun, feeling good and the thrill is still there, man. I’m blessed just knowing that you’ve just got to sometimes put everything into perspective.
“Just two or three days ago, grown men cried. People getting unexpectedly cut, released, traded or whatever.
“I’m just lucky to be a part of a fan base and organisation for these same nine years. A lot of people can’t say the same. … So for me, being Year nine, I’m just as humbled to have the opportunity, and I want every time a person sees me play, talk, whatever — I want them to see the joy as if it’s Day one cause that’s how I feel.”
Newton sprained his foot in Carolina’s third preseason game. But, he said he feels fine physically heading into Sunday’s opener.
“[I’m] focused on the Rams,” Newton said when asked about the injury. “I don’t want to dwell on something that’s irrelevant or doesn’t need to be talked about.”
Newton missed the last two games of 2018 and underwent offseason shoulder surgery. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told reporters Newton is “in great shape” entering 2019.
“He’s mentally where we need him to be,” Rivera said. “He had a really good day [of practice]. He threw the ball very well a couple days ago when we had practices and he’s been very sharp.”