New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he is impressed by how rookie Cam Newton has leapfrogged the learning curve in his first six starts in the National Football League (NFL).
Newton has thrown for 1,847 yards in six starts after being drafted by the Carolina Panthers as the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, leaving Brees, the 2009 Super Bowl MVP, astonished by the way he has adapted to the professional game.
I'm extremely impressed with how much success he has had so early in his career, especially when you look at the style that he played with in college, Brees told Reuters in a telephone interview.
A number of skeptics had questioned whether Newton had the ability to translate his rugged all-round college skills into the more disciplined world of the NFL.
He wasn't a pure pocket passer in college, he ran the ball a lot, he was on the move a lot, he wasn't just standing in the pocket and throwing the ball down the field a ton, obviously you have to do a lot of that in the NFL, said Brees.
So for him to come out in the first two games and throw for over 400 yards, that is hard to do. I don't care who you are, or what system you have or if you are throwing it every down, people just don't go out and throw for 400 yards.
I was extremely impressed with that, added Brees, who counts the Panthers among his team's NFC South divisional rivals.
Although the Panthers are 1-5, they have been in with a chance late in every game and Newton's impressive performances included throwing 432 yards against the Super Bowl winning Packers.
He has really shown the ability to make plays with his legs outside of the pocket, both running the football and also just scrambling and throwing the football down the field, Brees said of the 22-year-old.
They have got a lot of playmakers on their offense and so they make a lot of big plays and he is obviously the center point for a lot of that,
They have a 1-5 record but they have played everybody really close. We had to score with 50 seconds left to beat them last week. They are in every game that they play, they are competitive ... and are a dangerous team.
But Brees is wary of predicting just how far Newton could go toward becoming one of the league's elite quarterbacks.
Here is the thing -- he is six games into his rookie season so it is hard to speculate (on) anything, he said.
But I just know this -- he's played probably as well as you could play in your first six games. I am trying to think of a guy who played better in his first six games.
For most guys, you come in and there is a learning curve and yet he has come in and just leapfrogged that learning curve. The potential is certainly there and only time will tell but certainly he seems to be on the right track, Brees said.
The Saints quarterback was speaking to Reuters for the launch of the Vicks Most Dedicated Fan Contest, a competition where fans can submit nominees for the award via www.facebook.com/NyQuil.