Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton participated in seven-on-seven drills Thursday for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left ankle in March.

That put the two-time Pro Bowl selection about a month ahead of schedule on his rehabilitation, which initially was supposed to keep him from such drills until training camp in late July.

"Real sluggish,'' Newton said as the Panthers concluded a three-day minicamp, their final tune-up before training camp. "My mind was moving faster than my body, but that comes with time.

"Excited to get back out there. Not 100 percent yet, but any progress is good progress.''

Newton started slowly, completing only three of his first 10 pass attempts with one interception. But he dialed it in at the end, completing his final five attempts to finish 8-for-15.

Being involved was as symbolic as it was therapeutic.

"Absolutely,'' Newton said. "Anytime you can get back and make a step forward, and for me to have the opportunity to do seven-on-seven today is a step forward.''

Newton took all of his snaps from the shotgun just as it was scripted to limit his movement in the ankle, which is expected to be stronger than ever with the ligaments tightened. He's not worried about the next step, which will be movement in the pocket, although the Panthers plan to limit his runs in camp.