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A month later on September 1, 2011, he was named the Panthers' starting quarterback, ahead of Derek Anderson and Clausen.In his NFL debut game on September 11, 2011, Newton was 24–37 passing for 422 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, in a 28–21 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals.He was the first reigning Heisman Trophy winner to go first overall since Carson Palmer in 2003. 1 selection after Tucker Frederickson (1965), Bo Jackson (1986), and Aundray Bruce (1988).During the 2011 NFL lockout, he spent up to 12 hours a day at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Florida, spending up to two hours per day doing one-on-one training with fellow Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke.Before the draft, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson asked Newton to maintain his clean-cut appearance after Newton told Richardson he had no tattoos or piercings and was thinking about growing his hair longer.Although this is similar to a policy the New York Yankees has on all of its players, this gained some controversy on Richardson's part due to the fact that other players on the team didn't meet these guidelines.Whitfield has worked with other quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger and Akili Smith.
On January 1, 2012 against the New Orleans Saints, Newton threw for 158 yards and became the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards. Over the course of the season, when Newton had a turnover, the team was 0–10; when he had no turnovers, the team went 6–0.Newton set the NFL rushing touchdown record for quarterbacks on December 4, 2011, rushing for his 13th touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter against Tampa Bay.It was his third of the game which resulted in a 38–19 win.This performance brought Cam a passer rating of 127.5, his highest yet.With Carolina's win over the Indianapolis Colts, Newton became the fourth rookie quarterback to pass for over 3,000 yards in his first season, joining Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, and Sam Bradford.