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Nick Carboni at Bank of America stadium talks Cam with Locked On Panthers

WCNC Charlotte Sports Director Nick Carboni talks reaction and analysis on Cam Newton's return to the Carolina Panthers with Julian Council of Locked On Panthers.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton is returning to the Carolina Panthers and WCNC Charlotte's Nick Carboni was at Bank of America Stadium Thursday to get immediate reaction from fans and the team organization.

While awaiting the team's afternoon press conference, which include an unscheduled appearance from head coach Matt Rhule, Carboni chatted with Julian Council, the host of Locked On Panthers podcast.

"I never thought that they would go back and bring Cam Newton back here to Carolina," Council told Carboni. "This last year and a half, the Carolina Panthers have really tried to move away from Cam Newton being a figure in this organization," Council said. 

Thursday's announcement was a surprise to many -- even the most hopeful -- given Rhule's short tenure in the NFL, which included the departure of Newton in Rhule's first year just last year.

"This being your first head coaching job in the NFL, that you want to be able to image the Carolina Panthers the way that you want," Council said. "Having a dominating presence like Cam Newton, it might be difficult for you to be able to go in there and implement the kind of culture that you want."

Council does see the upswing though.

"And that's not to say that Cam Newton would be a deterrent," Council continued, "because you listen to anybody who's ever played with him, they've talked about how great of a teammate that Cam is."

The big question: Pending the conclusion of his physical exam, who is the Cam Newton that is returning to the Carolina Panthers?

"So you would think that you should be healthy and ready to go," Council said. "This could be the Cam Newton of last year who was just okay... or can he be the Cam Newton he was in the first half of 2018 when the Panthers were 62 and he was an MVP candidate."

If this doesn't work out?

"There could be another difficult conversation based on how he plays," Council warns. "We could be going through another painful divorce -- which is something that people like me, who were skeptical of this, we're trying to hopefully avoid."

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