CHARLOTTE — When they were teammates in Cleveland, watching film in the quarterbacks meeting room, Derek Anderson always thought Ken Dorsey would wind up as a coach someday.
And while Dorsey took a bit of a non-traditional route to the profession, the early reviews on the Panthers’ new quarterbacks coach have been positive.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera called Dorsey a “hidden gem.” Offensive coordinator Mike Shula, whose promotion created the opening for Dorsey, said Dorsey’s hiring was “probably the best thing that has happened this year for this organization.”
And Cam Newton, the player who will work most closely with Dorsey, said he was rendered nearly speechless when he learned during the offseason that Dorsey had gotten the job.
“The day he was announced the quarterbacks coach, we had a long talk. We challenged each other. I wanted him to make me the best quarterback he could, and I was going to accept the challenge. I was going to take coaching,” Newton said.
Newton and Dorsey worked together previously. Dorsey assisted former Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke at IMG Academies in 2011 when Newton trained at the Bradenton, Fla., facility after the draft and during the lockout.
Dorsey went 38-2 as the starting quarterback at Miami, leading the Hurricanes to the 2001 national championship. He twice was a Heisman Trophy finalist, finishing third in 2001 when Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch won it and fifth the following year when Southern Cal’s Carson Palmer was the winner.
Dorsey was drafted in the seventh round in 2003 by San Francisco, where he started 10 games in three seasons. He then went to Cleveland for three years, playing behind Anderson and working with then-Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
Chudzinski, now the Browns’ coach, was the Panthers’ offensive coordinator in 2011 when Dorsey joined Carolina’s scouting department. As an advance scout, Dorsey traveled to see the Panthers’ next opponent every week and reported back to the team on tendencies and personnel.
Dorsey, 32, is only two years older than Anderson, his ex-teammate and Panthers’ backup quarterback. But both said Dorsey’s new role hasn’t made things awkward.
As for Newton, Dorsey said he’s been working to keep his legs under him when he sets to pass.
“He’s got such great arm strength,” Dorsey said. “When he gets his legs and his base into the throw, it’s a huge difference.”
Dorsey praised Newton’s “blue-collar approach” this year.
“I always expect good things for Cam. The guy obviously is physically put together,” Dorsey said. “But also mentally, he’s made tremendous strides.”