CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton won't start for the Carolina Panthers but he could take the field against the Arizona Cardinals in a limited role.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported that Newton is expected to be active in Sunday's game at State Farm Stadium. Newton officially joined the Panthers Thursday, signing a contract that will keep him with the team through the end of the season.
With Sam Darnold on injured reserve, the Panthers also signed veteran Matt Barkley as a backup option. The Cardinals will also be limited, with quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins both expected to sit due to injuries they suffered against the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago.
Rapoport said Newton may be in a "package of plays" for the Panthers. If Newton does play, it will be the second time he's "debuted" against the Cardinals, as he played his first regular season game in Arizona, throwing for over 400 yards in 2011.
Newton hasn't suited up for the Panthers since 2019 when he aggravated a foot injury against Tampa Bay. He spent last season with the New England Patriots before they released him during the preseason and made rookie Mac Jones their starter.
Head coach Matt Rhule said P.J. Walker will start for the Panthers after taking first-team reps this week. Newton is expected to be the starter for the following game against Ron Rivera and the Washington Football Team on Nov. 21.
Newton's return was met with almost unanimous approval from Panthers fans who were unhappy with how he left the team last year. On Friday, Newton refused to discuss the past, saying he was excited to talk with Rhule about rejoining the team.
"When we talked it was very exhilarating to hear his voice," Newton said. "I'm happy to be here. We're 4-5 right now. We got a chance on Sunday to become 1-0, and that's all that it is. Speaking on the past is irrelevant, speaking on the future is irrelevant. I'm trying to maximize the present."
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