Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton wasn't kidding when he shouted "I'm back" during Sunday's game. Newton is not only back in Carolina, but it looks like he'll also be back to starting as early as Week 11.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule nearly confirmed as much Monday, when he said Newton would receive most of the first-team reps during practice. If Newton can get up to speed in that time, he could start against the Washington Football Team on Sunday.
Rhule Monday says he loves Newton’s energy: “I don’t want Cam-lite. I want the full Cam. "
"We’ll give Cam most of the reps and get him up to speed as much as possible.”
Says if he’s ready, he could start against Washington.
— Darin Gantt (@daringantt) November 15, 2021
Newton, 32, returned to the NFL in Week 10 after being cut by the New England Patriots during the preseason. Newton — who signed with the Panthers on Thursday — did not start against the Arizona Cardinals, but did receive some plays in relief of P.J. Walker.
Newton showed off his playmaking skills in those limited opportunities. In the first quarter, Newton scored a rushing touchdown to put the Panthers up early. After reaching the end zone, Newton pulled off his helmet and screamed "I'm back" twice. Newton was penalized for taking off his helmet, which prompted some scolding from Rhule.
Rhule says he told Newton “don’t do that again” after the unsportsmanlike penalty.
Cam’s response: “Say less.”
— Sheena Quick (@Sheena_Marie3) November 15, 2021
Later in the first quarter, Newton threw a touchdown to Robby Anderson. Newton completed 3-of-4 passes for 8 yards and a score, and rushed for 14 yards and a touchdown in his return to Carolina.
Newton spent his first nine seasons with the Panthers, who selected him No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL draft. Newton made three Pro Bowls, won an MVP award and led the Panthers to a Super Bowl during his first stint with the team. He was cut by the Panthers following the 2019 season.
Does Cam Newton have anything left in the tank?
If he starts, Newton will get a chance to show NFL teams he still deserves a starting job. Newton struggled as a passer in New England last season, throwing eight touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 games, but excelled as a runner, especially at the goal line.
Though things ended poorly in New England, Bill Belichick continues to speak highly of Newton.
Question (via @TheGregHillShow): Happy to see Cam back in NFL?
Bill Belichick: "Yeah, absolutely. It was great when they signed him. Sounds like he had a great day yesterday. So, always happy for Cam. Appreciate everything he did. He was a wonderful guy to coach and be around."
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 15, 2021
If Newton's shoulder is right, he could re-establish himself as an NFL starter during his brief stint with Carolina. If not, at least Newton can wrap up his career in the place he became a star.