CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton was back under center at practice Tuesday as he prepares to make his first start with the Carolina Panthers in 2021.
Newton is likely to start Sunday at home against his old coach Ron Rivera.
"He knows how I feel about him," Newton said Thursday of Rivera while talking to reporters at Bank of America stadium. "He knows what he's going to get Sunday."
Sunday will be Newton's second game, and the first at Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte, since suddenly returning to the team earlier this month.
"There's no other place in football I'd rather be on Sunday than Bank of American stadium," Newton said.
Newton will be giving away 50 tickets to the game Sunday. The tickets are expected to go to people who have never, or who have rarely, been to a Panthers game, Newton explained.
Ten tickets will be given away on social media by Iconic Saga, Newton's production company. The other 40 will go to "different programs around the city that give a person an opportunity to have never been to a Carolina Panthers football game."
No other details were immediately available regarding the free ticket giveaway.
The gesture underlines a goal Newton shared.
"'If I go back, I'd do different,'" Newton said recalling a previous conversation he had with a friend before knowing he'd return to his former team. "'I'd bring the community together. Bring the city together.'"
"A lot of things have changed, but a lot of things have stayed the same," Newton said his return.
At Thursday's news conference, Newton wore a shirt that read, "
I'm We back."
Newton played in last week's game against Arizona, scoring two touchdowns, including one on his very first play.
On Monday, head coach Matt Rhule said Newton would make the majority of first-team reps and would be first in line to start. If he's not ready, Rhule said P.J. Walker would be the starter for the second straight game.
During the part of the practice that was open to the media, Newton and Walker each took reps. Last week, Newton spent most of his first practice talking with quarterback coach Sean Ryan as he tried to pick up the team's language and offensive scheme.
"If he's ready to start, great. If he's not ready to do everything, obviously P.J. is available," Rhule said. "There's a lot to learn in a short amount of time."
The Panthers will play at home Sunday against Newton's old coach, Ron Rivera, and the Washington Football Team. Washington (3-6) finds itself still clinging to playoff hopes after defeating defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay last week. Carolina (5-5) currently holds the last playoff spot in the NFC after its dominant 34-10 victory over the Cardinals.
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