QB Cam Newton ‘keeps floating’ on return to Carolina Panthers

November 12, 2021

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Cam Newton had a question for reporters Friday as he drove past them in a golf cart to his first practice in his second season with the Carolina Panthers.

“Did you miss me?” the 32-year-old quarterback asked.

The huge smile on Newton’s face and his interview later made it clear that he had missed the Panthers after spending the last year and a half with the New England Patriots after his first nine NFL seasons in Carolina.

“Honestly, I’m still floating,” Newton said in his first remarks after rejoining the team on Thursday.

Newton made it clear that any resentment he might have had when the Panthers released him after the 2019 season was irrelevant and that the only thing that matters now is “winning.”

“Were there disconnects in the past? It’s irrelevant,” Newton said. “The fact that we can correct what may seem like a lot of mistakes or some mistakes, that’s the most exciting thing about it all.

“To hell with feelings. It would be the greatest good and bad just to win soccer games.”

Newton on Thursday signed a one-year deal worth up to $ 10 million for the remainder of the season, including a guaranteed $ 4.5 million and a $ 1.5 million roster bonus.

“This is not for any tactic. This is not for not selling tickets. This is not for not having a Cinderella story,” Newton said. “It’s to win soccer games. That’s what I have in my heart, and that’s how I’m going to do it.”

Newton made it clear that the past was the past and has been since he began speaking with coach Matt Rhule on Tuesday about a return to the team that led to the Super Bowl in 2015 with then-coach Ron Rivera.

“This was not an apology, ‘Oh, we did you wrong, we’re going to bring you back,'” Newton said. “… It’s time to win. We have a great game ahead of us. As far as that goes, it’s a must-win. That’s where all of our energy is.”

The Panthers (4-5), despite losing five of their last six games, are out of a wild-card spot in the NFC playoffs heading into Sunday’s game in Arizona.

PJ Walker will start at quarterback with Sam Darnold, acquired in an offseason trade with the New York Jets, after being placed on injured reserve on Friday with a shoulder injury that will take four to six weeks to complete. heal.

Rhule said Newton “looks in great shape” and will make the trip to Arizona. He “doubts” Newton will play on Sunday, but said the stance could change after practice on Saturday.

At best, the Panthers would have no more than 10-12 plays for Newton.

“It’s always mental that you think you can conquer and do anything, but you really won’t know until you’re in that situation,” Newton said of when he could get on the field. “There’s the old saying: be smart so you don’t have to prepare. It’s safe to say I’ve kept myself pretty smart.”

Newton said accountability, and doing whatever Rhule and the staff ask of him every time it’s asked, is his top priority. That process began Friday with Newton moving the first half of his first practice aside with quarterback coach Sean Ryan, while offensive coordinator Joe Brady worked with Walker and backup Matt Barkley.

Newton will likely have his first start next week against the Washington football team led by Rivera, who made the former Auburn star the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft.

Newton’s goal is to help Carolina make it to the playoffs, where the Panthers haven’t been since he led them to an 11-5 record in 2017. He’s more interested in that than the fan excitement for his return.

He hasn’t even looked at his phone since he got back.

“My head has been in a playbook so far,” Newton said. “I know there are rumors. If they follow me, they’ll know I’m off social media. So it’s not like I can follow them. That’s a good thing for me now because it would distract me.

“I just want everyone to know who is part of the Panthers Nation, I get it, but this is not a parade. Let’s get down to business.”

The 2015 NFL MVP admitted that the last few months since the Patriots cut him have been therapeutic. He’s spent little time paying attention to what’s going on in the league, focusing on being a “full-time dad, full-time coaching fanatic.”

He has also spent time fasting and gave a very biblical explanation for why he did it.

“One thing God was trying to teach Moses through this transition was just have faith, trust me, trust me,” Newton said. “Whatever your heart desires, whatever you need, I will give it to you.

“I felt in many ways why I had that free time, I felt like Moses.”

Newton ended the video conference with a moment of almost dropping the microphone before getting up and walking away.

“So without further ado,” Newton said. “I’m going to say something I’ve wanted to say for a long time, keep hitting.”