Cam Newton remains unsigned as NFL teams begin ramping up preparations for the upcoming season, though the 2015 league MVP still feels confident he can be an impact player despite two straight difficult campaigns.

Speaking as a guest on ESPN’s ‘The Pivot Podcast,’ the quarterback attributed his struggles in 2020 and 2021 to putting himself in tough situations during his short stint with the New England Patriots as well as last year’s return to his original team, the Carolina Panthers.

"Before I sit up here and allow the narrative to be made that Cam ain't got it no more, Cam is taking full responsibility and saying Cam put himself in a [messed] up situation, which then had a ricochet effect to how people think of me," Newton said.

"There’s not 32 [quarterbacks] better than me. If you think I couldn't be on somebody's team right now, you're a damn fool."

Newton's career has experienced a downturn since shoulder and foot injuries led to the Panthers releasing their then-franchise face following a 2019 season in which he was limited to just two games.

He signed with the Patriots shortly before training camp opened in 2020 and started 15 games in New England’s first year of the post-Tom Brady era, with mostly mixed results.

The three-time Pro Bowler finished 2020 with eight touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, the first time in Newton’s career he had more picks than TD throws when starting three or more games, and the Patriots went 7-8 in his starts to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Newton said he was never fully able to grasp a new offense on account of joining New England just two months before that season’s start.

"The New England experience was a [messed up] situation," he remarked. "I was still learning the offense seven to eight weeks into the season.

"It was just brain overload. It was times I was going to the line and I'm still thinking, 'Did I know it?’ Yes. To the degree that I needed to know it to show the world that I'm still Cam Newton? No. But I put myself in that situation."

The Patriots released Newton just prior to the start of last season after turning the offense over to rookie quarterback Mac Jones, and he spent nine weeks as a free agent before rejoining the Panthers in November.

Following a dazzling return in which he rushed for two touchdowns off the bench in Carolina’s Week 10 victory over Arizona, Newton was named the starter the following week but was never able to recapture his early-career form. The 33-year-old lost all five of his starts while completing just 54.1 per cent of his passes and recording a 61.4 passer rating.

"I signed on Thursday. I played on Sunday," Newton said of his Carolina comeback. "At what point did you think you was going to be successful? The next week, I started. That's still under 10 days of you being on the team. And you’re still trying to learn the offense."

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said last month that the team has kept in contact with Newton and has not ruled out bringing him back. It’s unclear if the veteran quarterback would agree to another reunion, as he stated h'’s looking for a scenario where he would have sufficient time to learn an offense while surrounded by a strong support system.

“If you’re asking to run this show without your supporting cast upholding their end of the bargain, then you’re always going to be left alone." Newton said.

Cam Newton is again biding his time before deciding on his NFL future, although another return to the Carolina Panthers remains a possibility.

Newton was the 2015 NFL MVP during an initial nine-year Panthers career before he was released in March 2020.

The quarterback landed at the New England Patriots in July of that year on a one-year deal, replacing the great Tom Brady.

Although that contract was renewed for 2021, the emergence of rookie QB Mac Jones meant Newton was cut before the season started.

Newton had thrown just eight touchdown passes to 10 interceptions in New England but added 12 rushing scores – the most by a QB since his own 2011 record of 14 – and did enough to earn another job with the Panthers.

With Sam Darnold injured after an indifferent start in Carolina, Newton re-joined the team in November.

The 32-year-old scored a rushing TD in each of his first five games back, one short of Johnny Lujack's QB streak of six in 1950. Three games with a passing TD and a rushing TD boosted Newton's own record tally to 45 such games.

However, Newton later lost his place to Darnold and finished the year with a career-low passer rating of 64.4.

Still, almost three months on from the Panthers' final game of the season, the team are considering their future with Darnold while Newton is again without a team.

"I have teams that are interested in signing me," Newton told ESPN. "I am waiting on the best fit as it pertains to winning a championship and getting a fair chance to play."

Coach Matt Rhule said on Tuesday: "I love Cam Newton. He's an amazing leader. He's an amazing football player.

"Everything we do has to be right for the organisation, right for him."

The Panthers have the sixth overall pick in 2022, but it is a draft light on quarterback talent. Meanwhile, various trades and moves in free agency have left both the team and Newton short of alternative options.

Scott Fitterer says Sam Darnold is "in the lead" to be the Carolina Panthers starting quarterback for the 2022 NFL season but the "door's still open" for Cam Newton to land the role.

Panthers general manager Fitterer on Friday revealed Darnold is the frontrunner to start under center when the new campaign gets under way.

Carolina missed out on Deshaun Watson, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns last week.

That leaves Darnold and P.J. Walker as the only quarterbacks on the roster, with the 24-year-old set to get the nod.

"Sam's on the roster as I sit here right now," Fitterer said. "He's in the lead for that job. We want him to take it and run with it.

"But we're gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilise the quarterback position to play winning football."

That competition could come in the form of Newton, who rejoined the Panthers last November after Darnold sustained a shoulder injury.

A former number one overall pick, Newton's return did not go to plan as Carolina lost all five games he started.

The 32-year-old threw for 684 yards and had five interceptions, but Fitterer says he is being considered by the Panthers.

"The thing with Cam, it's got to be a fit for us and it’s got to be a fit for him just as well," Fitterer said.

"He’s looking for a certain opportunity. The door's still open for us. We're very open to Cam. We'll see where it goes. He knows where we stand."

The Kansas City Chiefs are making statement after statement as they power towards the postseason, with a 48-9 trouncing of the Las Vegas Raiders just the latest.

Andy Reid's Chiefs were somewhere near their ruthless best in the NFL on Sunday, winning a sixth straight game to improve to 9-4, Patrick Mahomes completing 20 of 24 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns in the rout.

It moved him third all-time in the most yards thrown by a Chiefs quarterback, above Alex Smith, with a total of 17,794 yards.

Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 37 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs looked formidable in defense and offense at Arrowhead Stadium.

A fumble on the first play from Josh Jacobs was clinically punished by Mike Hughes as the Chiefs had a dream start, and by half-time they led 35-3.

Curiously, they won and limited their opponents to exactly nine points for a third successive game, after previous successes against the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos.

Tyreek Hill went through 1,000 yards receiving for the season as he took four catches for 76 yards to reach 1,030, for his fourth 1,000-yard season in the NFL.

Mahomes was masterful though, the quarterback ending a two-game run without a TD pass by posting a season-best pass completion rate of 83.3 per cent. He stretched his record run to 20 consecutive regular season wins in QB starts in November or later.

For the Raiders, it was more of the same against the Chiefs, having become accustomed to losses in this game. They have won just three of 18 games in the rivalry since Reid was appointed head coach of the Chiefs in 2013.


JACKSON DOWN, BROWNS BOOSTED

Star quarterback Lamar Jackson was carted out of the Ravens' clash with the Cleveland Browns, and it was a day to forget for Baltimore.

A 24-22 loss means they slipped to 8-5 for the season, while the Browns improved to 7-6, bolstering their Wild Card hopes.

Jackson, doubtful pre-game with an ankle sprain, managed only four of four passes for 17 yards before taking a hit and making way for Tyler Huntley (27 of 38 for 270 yards and one TD).

The Ravens, frontrunners in the AFC North, almost pulled off a stunning comeback against their divisional rivals, having trailed 24-6 at half-time, but it proved just beyond them.

Baker Mayfield went 22-of-32 for 190 yards and two touchdowns for the Browns.

NEWTON WOES PERSIST

Cam Newton has now lost 11 straight games as a Carolina Panthers starter and held himself largely culpable for the latest in that long line.

He also became the first quarterback in NFL history with a rushing touchdown in each of his first four games of a season, but Carolina's 29-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons was a sickener for the former MVP.

He had 15 completions from 23 passes for 178 yards, splitting QB duties with PJ Walker, as turnovers and failed drives blighted the day for the Panthers.

Newton said: "Pretty much everything they did, we knew was coming. I've got to do a better job of protecting the football. I hold myself to a high standard to do those things and when it doesn't happen it's just inexcusable.

"We had such a great momentum for those drives and they were just drive killers, game killers in essence

"We were driving on both of those turnovers I had. To be optimistic, you see what we're capable of, but we've got to do it for ourselves."

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has accepted some of the blame for the franchise's decision to fire offensive coordinator Joe Brady.

Brady was dismissed by Panthers head coach Matt Rhule earlier this week in the wake of their 33-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The Panthers have lost three of their past four games and are 5-7 across the season, sitting second in the NFC South behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3).

Newton, who returned to the Panthers last month for a second stint, has completed 29 of 52 attempts for 289 yards for three touchdowns in his three games for Carolina this season.

The quarterback failed to land any touchdowns with a 23.8 percent completion rate with two interceptions in the defeat to the Dolphins prior to their bye, making five of 21 attempts for 92 yards

"Do I think I had something to do with it?" Newton told reporters on Thursday when asked about Brady's dismissal. "The competitor in me, absolutely, yes. Because the truth of the matter is you don't lose your job because of success.

"Where I'm at now is doing what I can control to make sure that I have a job, too. Let's just be honest."

The Panthers' struggles on offense have been present before Newton's return to Carolina, having gone three straight games without a touchdown with Sam Darnold at QB.

Jeff Nixon has been handed the role as the Panthers' new offensive coordinator.

"I'm not going to lie, I'm proud to be in the position I'm in," Nixon said. "I'm extremely happy Coach Rhule gave me this opportunity. I'm going to try to make the most of it.

"I know in the past there really hasn't been a lot of people who look like me in this position, so I don't take that lightly. I'm going to do my best and try to represent others like me and do the best job I can."

Newton added: "I'm here to win. When we win, everyone else gets promotions. When we don't, people get cut along the way."

Cam Newton was benched after producing a poor display against the Miami Dolphins but the Carolina Panthers do not expect to change their starting quarterback.

A miserable Sunday for the Panthers saw them go down to a 33-10 loss in Miami, their third defeat in four games.

It was a rough outing for former MVP Newton, who recently returned to the team with whom he made his name as a free agent signing. 

He completed only five of his 21 passes for 92 yards and two interceptions, adding one touchdown on the ground.

Newton was replaced by P.J. Walker with the Panthers (5-7) down 20 in the closing stages, head coach Matt Rhule later explaining the backup had a better grasp of the two-minute offense.

Ex-New England Patriots QB Newton hopes to use the Panthers' bye week to get more familiar with the system before a Week 14 divisional game at home to the Atlanta Falcons.

And Rhule, who cited poor pass protection in explaining Newton's struggles, is not planning to make a move at a position where Sam Darnold and Walker have previously started for the team this season.

"I'm not making any changes right now," Rhule said after the game. "At the end of the day, we weren't protecting the quarterback at all.

"It wouldn't be fair to keep Cam in there and keep getting him hit.''

NFL Research said Newton's completion percentage of just 23.8 was the lowest by a QB with 20-plus attempts in a game since 2004.

Newton, who had looked much better in the narrow loss at Washington last week, had no complaints about Rhule's decision to take him out of the Dolphins game.

"I was fine with that,'' said Newton. "At the end of the day, it's still about being a professional. 

"At that particular point, I had more than enough opportunities to keep the game in the balance. There's no need to put up a fight with that.

"It really got exposed because of the situation, not having a full grasp [of the offense]. Nobody to blame, more so the situation I came into. 

"Having this week to kind of self-scout and dive into what the root of this offense is all about, that's what I plan on doing."

Newton added: "This is the NFL. Nothing's promised.

"Just because Cam Newton's on your roster doesn't mean you're just gonna win. Just because it's a feel-good story doesn't mean you're gonna win. I'm well aware of that."

It was a much better day for the Dolphins, who have now won four straight games to rally from a woeful 1-7 start to a 5-7 record.

Tua Tagovailoa was on the money with 27 completions from just 31 pass attempts for 230 yards and a touchdown.

He became only the fourth player in NFL history to record a completion percentage of 80 or more in consecutive games (minimum 30 pass attempts).

The only two QBs to have achieved the feat before this season are Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, while Kyler Murray also did so for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 and 3 of this year.

There were other landmarks for the Dolphins too. Cornerback Xavien Howard claimed one of the interceptions on Newton to reach 25 for his career.

The pick meant he surpassed Marcus Peters to become the fastest player to reach 25 interceptions since 1990, doing so in just 67 games.

And rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who had nine catches for a career-high 137 yards, now has 77 receptions through his first 12 career games.

That is the second-best tally in NFL history behind only Odell Beckham Jr (91), who made an explosive start to his career with the New York Giants in 2014.

Sequels rarely live up to the standard of the original. While Cam Newton's return to the Carolina Panthers stands as one of the most sentimentally fulfilling stories of the 2021 NFL season, the odds of him living up to his achievements during his spectacular first spell with the team are slim.

Yet through two appearances and one start, Newton's second act in Charlotte appears to be one worthy of the price of admission, if not one that will yield the honours that came during their initial nine-season association.

The Panthers lost in Week 11 with Newton starting at quarterback, a 27-21 defeat to the Washington Football Team and former Carolina coach Ron Rivera dealing a significant blow to hopes of securing a Wild Card berth in the NFC.

But the Panthers are a long way from being dead in the water and, while Newton is not the player he was when he won the MVP in 2015, his performance against Washington at least suggested his encouraging play in preseason for the New England Patriots was not a mirage.

At 5-6, Carolina can ill-afford too many more slip-ups if the Panthers are to return to the playoffs, raising the question: can Cam Newton save their season?

An upgrade over Darnold

It's a very small sample size, but the early evidence indicates Newton, the man head coach Matt Rhule and the Panthers let go after the 2019 season, represents an upgrade of his most recent batch of successors.

In the defeat to Washington, Newton delivered an accurate, well-thrown ball on 81.5 per cent of his passes, according to Stats Perform data, and did not throw a single interceptable pass.

Newton was brought back to replace the injured Sam Darnold, whom the Panthers traded for in the offseason. Darnold's well-thrown percentage of 80 for the season is still above the league average of 78.5, but his pickable pass rate of 4.21 per cent is inferior to the league-wide average of 3.62, Carolina's hopes of turning around his career after a dismal start with the New York Jets quickly fading.

The threat posed by Newton's athletic upside was also apparent last week. He averaged 5.86 yards per carry on designed runs, including a 24-yard rushing touchdown on a perfectly executed zone-read.

Prior to that score, Newton threw the Panthers' first touchdown of the game by faking a quarterback draw up the middle to draw up the two safeties and a middle linebacker guarding the endzone, giving him a much simpler throw to D.J. Moore on the slant route.

Darnold can himself make an impact with his legs, however, the combination of Newton's accuracy throwing the ball and his more pronounced threat on the ground led to an exciting albeit losing effort that gives optimism the Panthers' offense can be more potent as he digests Joe Brady's playbook.

Yet one element of his supporting cast may limit the ceiling of a Newton-led attack.

Protection issues a pressing concern

Newton is not short of elite talent around him. Christian McCaffrey delivered a reminder of his status as one of the game's top all-round running backs last Sunday. He demonstrated his burst by averaging 3.7 yards before contact per attempt and his ability to evade defenders in the backfield with an average of 5.5 yards per carry on rush attempts where there was a rush disruption.

Additionally, McCaffrey hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Newton, one on which the quarterback showcased exquisite touch and placement to loft the ball over the outstretched arm of a linebacker and into the running back's grasp.

Top receiver Moore is producing a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender when he is targeted, 68 per cent of the time, with his burn yards per route average of 3.3 putting him tied for 11th among wideouts with at least 10 targets.

Newton and McCaffrey being on the field at the same time can put defenses in a significant bind when faced with the zone-read, as Newton's rushing score against Washington proved, with both substantial threats to gain major yardage on the ground.

Moore's continued ascension gives Newton a bonafide number one receiver, yet the impact of having two top-tier skill-position weapons will be mitigated if the Panthers cannot improve on the offensive line.

Indeed, the Panthers entered Week 12 ranked 30th in pass protection win percentage while only the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have allowed more quarterback pressures than Carolina's 204.

Even in his 11th season, Newton boasts a skill set ideally suited to the modern game and has the weapons to succeed, yet his ability to do so will be restricted if he is under duress as much as Panthers signal-callers have been in 2021.

Home stretch filled with obstacles

The hope for Carolina this month comes in the form of that Dolphins offensive line, which a Panthers defense allowing the second-fewest yards per play (4.91) in the NFL faces in Week 12.

Yet beyond this week and games with the Atlanta Falcons and a seemingly crumbling New Orleans Saints team, the schedule offers little for the Panthers to get excited about.

They face defending Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and quarterback Tom Brady, unlikely to be daunted by the Carolina defense, twice before the end of the regular season, while a Buffalo Bills team whose defense is well-positioned to take advantage of poor pass protection and whose offense is tied for the league lead with 37 touchdowns host the Panthers in Week 15.

Carolina's remaining schedule is the eighth toughest in the NFL by winning percentage and, in a race for the Wild Card spots with three surging teams in the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, the chances of the Panthers overcoming such a hurdle look small, particularly given the potentially fatal flaw they have up front.

Still, the combination of Newton, McCaffrey, Moore and one of the most efficient defenses in the league at least offers reason for hope. Can Newton save Carolina's season? Probably not, but he gives them a better shot than any other quarterback they have started this season.

The Carolina Panthers will start Cam Newton at quarterback against the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

Head coach Matt Rhule said earlier in the week that the Panthers were "trending" towards starting Newton.

And he confirmed on Friday that the franchise's first overall pick in 2011, who returned for a second spell last week, would get the start under center in Week 11.

Newton will come up against a Washington team led by Ron Rivera, previously his coach in Carolina.

"He's really done a nice job learning the game plan for this week,'' Rhule said of the QB. "He's worked really hard. He's really a smart player. Really a smart quarterback.''

"The energy is awesome. I don't mean to ever diminish it. I just love the fact that he's on the practice field, he throws his last ball each period, turns and runs a lap and runs back. It's way more to me about the example being set.

"We all understand Cam is a force of nature almost in terms of the things he brings. But I don't want it to be all that people realise. What I see is a true professional that wants to win and puts the time in.''.

Newton made his second debut against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday and had an instant impact, producing two moments that will live long in the memory.

His first touch saw him find the endzone on a two-yard run to give the Panthers the lead, and on his second he connected with Robby Anderson on a two-yard touchdown pass as Carolina cruised to a 34-10 win.

P.J. Walker was the starter at Arizona, and Rhule suggested he will still get some snaps in relief of Newton against Washington as the Panthers look to boost their playoff hopes and move to 6-5.

"We'll have both guys ready," he added. "Game plan wise, we could see a myriad of different things happen.''

 

Will the NFL return to some form of normality this week? Maybe... or maybe not.

Even in this season of shock results without any clear Super Bowl favourite, Week 10 stood out for its sheer number of upsets.

The defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were stunned by the Washington Football Team, the Miami Dolphins overturned the Baltimore Ravens and the short-handed league-leading Arizona Cardinals lost to the Carolina Panthers.

When the San Francisco 49ers then beat NFC West rivals the Los Angeles Rams in Monday Night Football, it became the first week in NFL history in which four teams had won by double-digits having entered the week at least four wins behind their opponents.

Week 11 looks no easier to call, and there are plenty of intriguing matchups before even considering the potential for further setbacks for some favourites.

Dallas Cowboys (7-2) @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-4)

With Patrick Mahomes back on form, two of the best teams in the NFL should be set for a titanic tussle at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

Mahomes, setting aside his shaky displays to that point, threw for 406 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions against the Las Vegas Raiders last week, becoming the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to have two games of 400-plus passing yards, five-plus TD passes and no picks in his career.

The 41-14 win represented the league-leading 10th time the Chiefs have scored 40 points in a game since the start of the 2018 season, yet they were topped by the Cowboys, whose 43-3 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons was their biggest since a 48-7 victory over Arizona in 2000.

The Cowboys have gone 5-2-1 all-time previously in games following a win of at least 40 points (including playoffs), but this was an unprecedented success. The team's 29 points in the second quarter in Week 10 were their most in a single quarter of any game in their history.

Indianapolis Colts (5-5) @ Buffalo Bills (6-3)

Neither the Chiefs nor the Cowboys can match the Bills' average winning margin of 26.3 points this year. That is the highest mark in the NFL, having been boosted by last week's 45-17 victory over the New York Jets, their NFL-leading sixth win by 15 or more points.

The Cowboys are ahead of the Bills in points per game, but Buffalo have given up the fewest points per game. The last team to lead on both offense and defense in this regard were the 2005 Colts.

The achievements of this year's Colts team have been rather more modest. Their five wins have come against teams with a combined record of 13-34 (.261).

Still, Jonathan Taylor has excelled, scoring a rushing touchdown in seven straight games – the last NFL player to reach eight was DeAngelo Williams in 2008. In fact, there is rushing talent on both sides of the ball, with the Bills last week having four different players score rushing TDs for the first time in team history.

Arizona Cardinals (8-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (3-6)

Another week, another big NFC West game. The Cardinals' form has tailed away a little since Kyler Murray's injury, but they are still unbeaten on the road and looking to start 6-0 away from home for only the second time in franchise history.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have their starting QB back, but Russell Wilson did little to help their offense against the Green Bay Packers. He was shut out for the first time in his NFL career in his 166th start (including playoffs).

Seattle's problems on that side of the ball did not end there, though. They were held to under 100 rushing yards for a third consecutive game for the first time since the end of the 2016 season, while only twice in the 21st century have they seen such a streak extended to four games.

Whether or not the Seahawks recover this week, history suggests they are likely to be able to stick with the Cardinals. Six of the past 10 meetings between the teams have been decided by three points or fewer.

Elsewhere...

Cam Newton's Panthers face Ron Rivera's Washington, their first meeting since both left Carolina (Newton returned last week). This is the third time since 2010 a former MVP QB has faced the coach he won his award with, following Peyton Manning versus Jim Caldwell in 2015 and Tom Brady against Bill Belichick earlier this season.

The 49ers are now 4-1 when Jimmy Garoppolo's passer rating is above 100.0 this year (141.7 vs. the Rams) and 0-3 when it is not. He was helped last week by a season-high 156 rushing yards, keeping San Francisco's offense on the ball for just over 39 minutes. They should expect more of the same against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have failed to force a turnover in six games this season.

The Cincinnati Bengals need both of their former LSU stars to rediscover some form at the Raiders. Joe Burrow has thrown an interception in five straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL, while Ja'Marr Chase – surely not helped by his QB's struggles – has fallen short of 50 receiving yards in consecutive games after making that mark in his first seven appearances.

The Detroit Lions will hope to learn from next opponents the Cleveland Browns, who have returned to contention since in 2018 becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to end a losing streak of 10-plus games with a tie. Last week, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Lions became the second.

The Carolina Panthers are "trending" toward starting Cam Newton at quarterback for their Week 11 clash with the Washington Football Team.

Carolina last week brought their 2011 first overall pick and 2015 MVP Newton back on a one-year deal having parted company with him after the 2019 campaign.

Newton, who was released by the New England Patriots before the start of this season, made his second debut against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday and had an instant impact.

P.J. Walker got the start in the absence of the injured Sam Darnold but it was Newton who produced the moments that will live long in the memory.

His first touch saw him find the endzone on a two-yard run to give the Panthers the lead, with his second seeing him connect with Robby Anderson on a two-yard touchdown pass as Carolina cruised to a 34-10 win.

Both Walker and Newton are in a position physically to start, but head coach Matt Rhule indicated it is the latter who will likely do so as the Panthers aim to boost their playoff hopes by moving to 6-5.

"You know, I think we're probably trending that way to be quite honest with you. I'm not gonna probably pull that trigger 'til later," Rhule said of Newton starting.

"But I think, and I was pretty transparent the other day, in terms of wanting to push him into that role I think it's good for our team.

"But we're getting P.J. ready as well. As I said, gameplan-wise, I think we could see a myriad of different things happen."

The Carolina Panthers had been listless through the middle of the NFL season, losing five of their last six games entering Sunday's contest and lacking an identity on offence under quarterback Sam Darnold. 

Carolina's move to bring back franchise icon Cam Newton on Thursday electrified the fan base, with children all over Charlotte pulling old Newton jerseys out of their closets to wear to school on Friday. 

Once Newton stepped on the field against a one-loss Arizona Cardinals team, the feel-good story got even better, as he generated touchdowns on his first two snaps of the game and inspired the Panthers to a 34-10 rout.

After running the ball in from two yards out for a score on his first play of the season, Newton ripped his helmet off and screamed "I'm back!" at the television cameras.  

The Panthers could not have been happier, as they got back to .500 at 5-5 and steadied themselves in the NFC playoff picture, where they currently sit seventh. 

"The energy was crazy today," said Panthers linebacker – and former Cardinal – Haason Reddick. "It was on a different level." 

Newton was at the center of it, but the former MVP tried in his inimitable way to deflect credit after the game. 

"I'll put it like this: This time last week, I was eating a bowl of cereal. You feel me?" Newton told reporters. 

"So, that just puts things into perspective. After going to church, being with my children and really not even watching football; it was just about maximising the person I need to be and so for that it was just all a rush of emotions.

"But yet I know a lot of people in the media, the titles of the newspapers, the blogs, they want to make it about me and it's not about me and I keep saying this. This was an impeccable team win."

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule echoed the latter sentiment, praising quarterback P.J. Walker for his performance but declining to commit to giving him another start next week. 

"That was fun today," Rhule said. "Let's let it be fun." 

Considering the Panthers return home next week to host the Washington Football Team, led by long-time Panthers coach Ron Rivera, Bank of America Stadium would be at a fever pitch if Newton did indeed get the start after a full week of practice. 

The 32-year-old Newton played only eight snaps in Arizona but was the center of attention before, during and after the game. 

Asked how much of the Panthers' playbook he had a chance to learn in the handful of days since he signed, Newton replied, "Two touchdowns' worth." 

It took Aaron Rodgers a while to find his rhythm as he returned on Sunday, but the Green Bay Packers' defence eased the way for him in a 17-0 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. 

Rodgers missed the Packers' Week 9 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19 and sat out practice all this week before being cleared to play on Saturday.

That rust was evident in his comeback as the Packers (8-2) could not find the end zone until AJ Dillon rushed for the first of his two fourth-quarter touchdowns with 10:37 to play in the game. 

Rodgers ended up completing 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards with an interception, but the good news for Green Bay was that Seahawks star Russell Wilson was even less effective in his own return.

Seattle (3-6) were shut out for the first time ever with Wilson at quarterback after he went just 20-of-40 passing for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and was sacked three times.

Wilson's 39.7 passer rating was the fourth-worst of his 166 career regular-season and playoff games following his comeback from finger surgery.

 

Panthers pound Cardinals in Newton's return

Just three days after signing with his former team, Cam Newton made an immediate impact for the Carolina Panthers as they handed the Arizona Cardinals just their second loss of the season with a 34-10 defeat.

Carolina drove deep into Arizona territory on their first two possessions of the game and sent Newton in to replace starter P.J. Walker at quarterback, with the Panthers favourite running for and passing for touchdowns on his first two snaps. 

Those scores put Carolina (5-5) on the path to a 23-0 half-time lead and Arizona (8-2) could not find a way back with Kyler Murray still absent due to an ankle injury. While his backup Colt McCoy played well in a Week 9 victory, he completed just 11 of 20 passes for 107 yards with no touchdowns and an interception against Carolina. 

Walker was 22-of-29 passing for 167 yards with an interception for Carolina, while Christian McCaffrey led all players with 95 rushing yards and 66 receiving yards. 

Cam Newton said he is "still floating" following his return to the Carolina Panthers.

Newton was released by the New England Patriots in August but earned a chance with the Panthers after a shoulder injury to starting quarterback Sam Darnold.

Veteran QB Newton spent nine years with the Panthers from 2011 to 2019, winning the 2015 NFL MVP and earning three Pro-Bowl selections.

"Honestly, I'm still floating," Newton told reporters on Friday, after signing a one-year deal worth up to $10million.

He added: "This ain't for no ploy. This ain't for no ticket sales. This ain't for no Cinderella story. It's to win football games. That's pretty much what's on my heart, and that's how I'm going about it."

The Panthers released Newton in 2019 after giving him permission to seek a trade, eventually joining the Patriots as a free agent. Newton insisted there were no hard feelings from that.

"Were there disconnects in the past? It's irrelevant," Newton said. "The fact that we're able to make what may seem a lot of wrongs or some wrongs right, that's the most exciting thing about it.

"To hell with feelings. It would be the biggest right and wrong by just winning football games."

The Panthers, who are 4-5, placed Darnold on injured reserve on Friday with his shoulder injury expected to take four to six weeks to heal.

P.J. Walker will start at quarterback for Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, although Newton is expected to come into starting calculations for the following week's game against the Washington Football Team.

The Carolina Panthers have re-signed former number one overall pick Cam Newton after first-choice quarterback Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder injury.

Darnold was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, leaving the 4-5 Panthers short under center with P.J. Walker set for his second NFL start against the Arizona Cardinals.

However, the Panthers moved quickly on Thursday to agree a deal for a free agent they know well.

Newton was released by the New England Patriots in training camp this year as Bill Belichick instead went with rookie QB Mac Jones in Foxborough.

The dual-threat QB had also been released by Carolina following the 2019 season, moving on under new coach Matt Rhule following an injury-hit year.

Newton played only two games in 2019 due to a Lisfranc fracture in Week 2, having only returned from a shoulder issue at the start of the season.

Having been the league MVP in 2015 with the Panthers, throwing 35 touchdown passes and rushing for a further 10 scores, Newton's performances with New England were rather more ordinary.

Still retaining that same athleticism, the 32-year-old had 12 rushing TDs in 2020, his most in any season since his rookie year.

But Newton was poor through the air, tossing eight TDs to 10 interceptions and moving the ball just 7.07 air yards per attempt as the Pats ranked 23rd for yards per passing play (6.06).

That might still represent an upgrade on Darnold, though, who has the Panthers 30th by the same metric this year with 5.42 yards per play.

Like Newton, Darnold has provided a threat with his legs, scoring five rushing TDs, but he has thrown only seven scores to 11 picks.

Carolina exercised Darnold's fifth-year option following his trade from the New York Jets but will now be paying former favourite Newton up to $10million to potentially fill his boots this year, according to reports. That includes $4.5m guaranteed and a $1.5m roster bonus.

The New England Patriots drafted Mac Jones to be their quarterback of the future, but the rookie is not surprised that future will start in Week 1 of the NFL season. 

Jones beat out incumbent starter Cam Newton, who was released last week, and will be under center in Sunday's season opener against the Miami Dolphins. 

In an interview Tuesday with Boston radio station WEEI, Jones said he was "not really" caught off-guard when he learned in a team meeting that he had won the job. 

"I mean, like I always say, I prepare to be the starter and every day you come in and I got the chance to get a lot of reps, so nothing really changes," Jones said. "Just trying to be a good teammate.

"Trying to learn the plays every day and fix what I messed up on, listen to [offensive coordinator] Josh [McDaniels] and all the guys in the quarterbacks room, you just take their advice like I always have since I have been here.

"Like I said, nothing really changes. It’s exciting.”

Jones, who turned 23 on Sunday, led Alabama to the College Football Playoff national championship last season. He completed a record 77.4 per cent of his passes while throwing for 4,500 yards with 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions. 

While his resume was as impressive as any rookie's, the jump to the NFL can be daunting. Jones said Newton was a mentor to him throughout the off-season and training camp and was helpful throughout even though they were competing for a job. 

"Obviously Cam is a great guy, a great player, and hopefully he lands somewhere," Jones said. "I definitely learned a lot from him and I'm excited to keep learning from Brian [Hoyer] and everyone in the quarterback room."

Jones has been impressive throughout the pre-season, completing 36 of 52 passes (69.2 per cent) for 389 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions as the Patriots won all three of their games. 

Beginning Sunday, the stakes will be much higher, and Jones knows he will have to perform to maintain his role. That would be true anywhere in the NFL, but the pressure figures to be turned up given New England's championship pedigree. 

"It is a great opportunity and it’s something I have always wanted to do - be a NFL starting quarterback," Jones said. "But like I said, it doesn’t really mean much. The label is the label, but you’ve got to go out and produce and that’s just what it comes down to." 

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