Cam Newton giving food to the homeless the night before last week’s preseason opener in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of Candace Gregory
“People talk about him dabbing and all the stuff that in my mind ultimately should be irrelevant, because that doesn’t get to the heart of who he is,” Candace said of Newton.

“I once saw him give something to a disabled child at a practice and people were like, ‘Oh, it’s a photo opportunity.’ But this was when nobody was looking. That’s why we shared it, because character is what you do when nobody is looking.”

Backup quarterback Joe Webb, among those at dinner with Newton, said such acts of kindness from the first pick of the 2011 draft happen all the time. He said Newton often will order a to-go meal if he knows somebody near the restaurant is in need.

He said Newton sometimes will plan outings simply to deliver food to homeless.

“It’s like second nature for him,” said Webb, who sometimes accompanies Newton on such outings. “It’s no surprise that he did it. A lot of people say, ‘What are you doing when people aren’t looking?’ It speaks volumes that he’s a great person.”

Wide receiver Brenton Bersin also has seen Newton give food to homeless people many times.

“I’ve seen him give money to homeless, too,” he said.

Candace said Newton, wearing the red “Pharrell” hat he wore to the game, had no idea she and her husband lived in Charlotte and were Carolina fans. They never approached him.

But Candace talked to the homeless man.

“A lot of people were like, ‘Oh my God! That’s Cam Newton!'” Candace said. “The homeless guy had no idea who Cam was. He was just happy to have food. He was totally oblivious to everything.”

Candace said that from what she saw the homeless man eating, it was obvious Newton had ordered extra food with the intent of giving it away. She said it also was obvious that Newton wasn’t trying to draw attention when he gave the man the food.

“They were walking in a group and he slid over, gave the guy the bag and kept moving,” Candace said. “It was a quick, smooth motion, like he was handing the ball off to a running back.

“He didn’t linger. He didn’t talk to the guy. You could tell he was trying to be discreet about it.”

Candace took pictures of the moment and shared them with her friend, April Boryczewski, a Panthers fan. April posted one of the pictures on Instagram with the message: “It is what you do in secret, away from the media, away from the hype, that shows the true character of a man. Cam’s servants’ heart never ceases to amaze and humble me! I am so truly proud to say this young man represents my Queen City!”

The first rule of preseason, of course, is to stay healthy.

(It’s OK to talk about it. Just don’t get hurt.)

The NFL’s two most-hyped rookies got the message a little late. Neither injury is season-ending, but they are reminders that months of analysis and debate can come to a halt in a single preseason moment.

Let’s take a closer look at the most significant injuries in Week 1 of the NFL preseason. (Fantasy alert: If you don’t see the player you’re looking for on this list, chances are his injury is minor.)

QB Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Injury: Sore left shoulder

Prognosis: The Rams held Goff out of the second half Saturday night because of a hit he absorbed in the second quarter of their 28-24 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. The injury is to Goff’s non-throwing shoulder, and coach Jeff Fisher said Sunday that Goff would resume practicing and likely get some work with the Rams’ first-team offense. It does not appear that the injury will slow Goff’s path to the Rams’ starting job, held on by what is widely assumed to be a temporary basis by veteran Case Keenum.