CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton could be the Carolina Panthers' starting quarterback as soon as Sunday against the Washington Football Team, head coach Matt Rhule said Monday.
Newton looked poised in limited action against Arizona, scoring two touchdowns, including a score on his first play of the game. The Panthers cruised to a 34-10 victory to improve to 5-5 and currently hold the final wildcard spot in the NFC playoff hunt.
Rhule said Newton will get the majority of first-team reps in practice as he gets up to speed as quickly as possible. P.J. Walker would make his second start if Newton can't go.
"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."
Newton took the NFL by storm with two first-quarter touchdowns. He also drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taking his helmet off and shouting, "I'm back" after scoring his first touchdown. Rhule called it a "penalty of passion" and said Newton assured him it won't happen again.
"I understand where he's coming from," Rhule said.
After the game, Newton turned questions about his return into praise for his teammates, calling the 34-10 rout an "impeccable team win."
Sunday's game will be the Panthers' second time facing former coach Ron Rivera. Last year, the Panthers went to Washington and defeated Rivera's team 20-13.
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