One of the Carolina Panthers' story lines that has gone largely under-reported this off-season is the apparent physical transformation of starting quarterback Cam Newton.

With so much attention being paid to his surgically repaired shoulder (and deservedly so) it seems the rest of his physique has gone unnoticed.

I remarked during the Carolina Panthers OTA workouts that Cam Newton looked as slim as I have seen him look since his rookie year in 2011. Well, Newton himself just posted a photo on Instagram that not only drove home that observation, but doubled down on it.

"šömëtįmëš ÿöü ñëëd ÿöür ËGØ, göt tö rëmįñd thëšë FØØŁš whö thëÿ ËFFįñ' ₩1TH❗️" -JÅŸż #iWmW -1OVE #šhįñëTHRŪthëŠHÅDË #ŸËÅHįmFËËŁ1NmÿšëlfMŸkįllâ

A post shared by Cam Newton (@cameron1newton) on

As you can see, this is not the Cam Newton of the past few seasons.

So why does this matter? It is no big secret that Newton did not appear to be as fast as he once was. Gone were the days of watching him out run defensive ends as he scrambled for the sideline, gaining 10 yards in the process. Recently, Newton has looked not quite as able to elide defenders he once ran circles around. The result was Newton taking more hits that the Carolina Panthers would like to have seen.

If this body transformation Newton has undergone translates to added foot speed, and it should, it will only mean there is a higher likelihood of Newton staying healthy throughout the 2017 season.

Another point worth mentioning here is how this development may work within the “evolved” 2017 Carolina Panthers offense. We saw first hand what the offensive game plan was on draft night. By adding Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel respectively, it became clear that the Panthers want to become much faster.

For instance, a quicker Cam Newton on roll outs with options like McCaffrey in the flat and Samuel in the slot could quickly spell all kinds of trouble for opposing defenses. Trouble for defenses, music to the ears of Panthers fans.

With training camp now only hours away, we are not long from seeing first hand if Newton’s transformation is indeed all a part of the Rivera master plan. Stay tuned.