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What Matt Rhule had to say about Cam Newton's return

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule made an unscheduled appearance in the briefing room at Bank of America Stadium Thursday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule held a news conference Thursday at Bank of America stadium to discuss with reporters the return of quarterback Cam Newton.

Rhule was not originally scheduled to speak at the Thursday briefing, which typically features just players. Given the big news of the day, he made an appearance.

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Below is a rough transcript of what Rhule said while speaking with reporters Thursday in Charlotte:

Editor's note: This transcript was taken from audio of Thursday's news conference and may not represent a final copy of his statement.

Matt Rhule  

Alright guys, obviously I'll answer any questions you guys guys have a better signing of

I'll answer questions about the practice the game or any questions, obviously about the assigning of cam afterwards. I thought it open with a statement. You know, I came in on Monday

after learning the extent of Sam's injury, got together with Scott and everybody else and just looking at options as we move forward. Knew that PJ be the starting quarterback this week, obviously signed a Matt Barkley, as I talked to you guys about yesterday is a guy that we've kind of pinpointed for a while some we think can come in here and do an excellent job as a veteran player. And after we talked and deliberated. I went to my office got on the phone and I called cam on Monday night.

asked him if he'd have any interest in coming back to the Carolina Panthers.

He emphatically said yes. So he and I had a good conversation. We decided to let his representatives and Scott and our people here, start to you know, work out a deal.

This morning cam flew here met with David Tepper and Scott Federer.

I wasn't at that conversation I was get ready for the game had it sounds like they had a good conversation. And cam is now getting this physical. So they agreed to terms. He's getting his physical. I have no obviously update on that. And we'll move forward from there. As we see here today, Sam's preparing to go on IR his job right now is to get himself healthy. Uh, PJ's job right now it's gonna be the starting quarterback this week and work to play our best game against the Arizona Cardinals. Matt Barkley's jobs to be the backup and help us with that. And cam used to get here and he needs to learn the offense get settled in learn our verbage. And we need to see where he's at physically. So I won't have many hypotheticals, I won't have many long range. So this is where I think it'll be I haven't even had a chance to see cam yet. But our conversation tonight was good. And look forward to look forward to getting him here. So with that, sure you guys do have questions.

Unknown Speaker  

He would not play

Matt Rhule  

Sunday. You know, I don't ever rule anything out. But, you know, we just had our Thursday practice. He was involved with that. So you know, but you know, I think with any veteran player, you know, they can learn things quickly. But so we're not ruling anything out. But that's not really kind of where we're looking right now.

Unknown Speaker  

is expected to be the story going forward. The reason I asked is because he's gonna make in one game, or PJ will make for the whole year. This contract. So

Matt Rhule  

that's, that's just pro football, though. I mean, it's just as an aside, like, it's a fascinating sport, like, you can have a left tackle right tackle and one's making $660,000. And one's making $6 million. They're both doing the same job doesn't happen anywhere else. Doesn't happen anywhere else in the world where two people do the same exact job for, you know, 200% of what this guy makes. So, PJ's job is just to go be the quarterback. Again, I can't do hypotheticals, obviously brought a cam here because of who he is a quarterback. And we brought him here to play. But you know, we're not looking into the future. We just got to get him here. Get him out, you know, get them physical. Start teaching him what we do. And you know, at the end of day, you know, I talked to Cam he told me he feel he's healthy and feels great. This is healthy. He's been so healthy. Cam Newton. So special player. So we'll just take it day by day,

Unknown Speaker  

your Monday conversation, was there any kind of degree of I don't want to say clear the air. But I mean, you had to release it when you got here. And kind of kind of feeling out what his feelings were toward you and toward Dave and anyone else?

Matt Rhule  

Yeah, I won't go into specifics with our conversations. But But cam Newton's as a pro and Cam, you know, we made a football decision at the time based on his health. You know, you can't really speak a lot unless you have a we, you know, we weren't sure what his health was, we had to make kind of a decision at the time. And camp cam understands that. I mean, he understands that these are football decisions and football based, you know, evaluations that you have to make. So there wasn't a lot of, there wasn't any anything but an amicable conversation. I mean, at the end of the day, you know, Cam and I did spend two months together, you know, he was here in rehab and treatment trying to get a short right. I did see him several days a week, so did have a good feel for who he is. And I know that he's a competitor. And I know besides his talent, I know he's competitive. I know that he's tough. I know that he's everything that I believe in and talk about. He is but you know, at the time, we weren't sure if he's healthy, but he's healthy now. And you see that he's healthy now. And as he said to me, you know, probably just not playing yet this season. He's as healthy as he possibly could be. So it was good. You know, at the end of the day, I think anytime you look back on things, you know, you always say I wish I'd done this a little differently. You know, I think everyone has that but there was nothing but there was nothing but But good feelings in that conversation I'll say, you know, obviously cam, I can't I don't wanna speak for him. But obviously he loves Charlotte. He loves the Carolina Panthers. And he made that very clear to me. So this is, this is a fitting story I'm sorry. I want to contact Camus. You think he's, why do you think cams the best? Yeah, because we lost our starting quarterback and we need a starting quarterback and PJ's in that role right now. And that doesn't mean he'll lose that role. Just, you know, we need as many good players as possible. And so you have a guy with cams ability level, sitting out there. You know, we have an open opportunity. You know, we we have a team that we feel I can win, you know, I told you guys with a second rank defense. We haven't put it all together yet. Christian's back, some things are starting to hopefully come into place. And you know, we owe it to our players to try to go in, we owe it to our fans to try to go in. So just like we brought in Stephon Gilmore, when we brought him Stephon Gilmore wasn't a slight on any other corner. You know, we're bringing in cam now. I mean, he's, he's the former MVP. And so to have a guy like that have a chance to come in, you know, which, to me was just a no brainer.

Unknown Speaker  

You know, this is his leaders or takes, you know, what they say? Did anybody any leader say?

Matt Rhule  

insisted? Maybe we should take a look at the team? Yes. No, I didn't talk to him about this.

Unknown Speaker  

Throw game at

Nick Carboni  

this point in his career, and how does he help you guys still try to run the football as much as you want?

Matt Rhule  

I think you know, it's hard to say right now without working with him. But I went back and watched him in the preseason and went back and watched him play last year. And, you know, coming off that shoulder injury, he threw the ball well, last year, tremendous pocket presence can move the ball with his feet. But again, you see a guy that that's that's making big time throws in crucial situations, I watched the Seattle game, where he brings them back from behind and watch them in the Eagles game this year. I mean, I cam is an excellent player, and I think he's got a lot of football left. So you know, what exactly it looks like for us yet. I mean, again, I had like to at least see him first, you know, practice with them first in terms of how we'll utilize him. And you know, Joe will do a great job of I'm sure of putting him in the right spots. But, you know, I think when you watch the tape, you see a lot of really nice football plays that he made last year, and made this preseason with the team. And so what was said, and what was the moment Yeah, I'd never, I don't want to be signed, someone I don't have a big thing about it. Like, you know, Cam coming here to me is the same as defined coming here is same as CJ coming here. You know, most of the guys know the minute when you guys post it, they know before I even had a chance to talk to anybody. So I tried to get to the quarterbacks because I want to make sure I told the quarterbacks and unfortunately, kind of got out before I had a chance to talk to them. But that is what it is, right? Guys get it? You know, guys, you know, this, they all understand this. So, you know, a lot of guys are friendly, we can while the guys grew up, you know, looking up to camp. So I mean, I don't think there's a guy on his team that's not excited about anytime we add a player guys, we're excited if it has a chance to help us. And obviously everyone knows it can be

Unknown Speaker  

your job is to win and you want to win. Win now, what about cam makes you believe with him, you can win?

Matt Rhule  

I think I've said You know, I just I think our team can win now. Like I think we have a good defense, I think we just haven't been playing at the level we want on offense, special teams have improved, our kickers improved, you know, you look at all these things. And, you know, I thought the Atlanta game will look like a good team, you know, we're still doing on the NFC South, whether people write us off or not. I mean, you know, there's a, there's, there's there's four teams that are leading the division in the NFC, there's one team, the LA Rams that are clearly you know, seven wins, and then everyone else is about like us, you know, five wins, four wins, three wins. So, you know, not out of anything. Now, that being said, I don't think that way too long. Because we have to start playing better and have a chance to be in it. But you know, you lose your starting quarterback, you have to go back, you have to look at everything, right. And so to have a defense like this, to have the weapons that we have, we turn over to PJ, we trust him that he's gonna go play well, we signed Matt, and then this is just an opportunity to bring in a great player, we have to get them up to speed. I can't say when that'll happen. But yeah, when I say you know, my job is to win. I just, you know, sometimes I think I talked so much about process and building and all those things that people don't like, it's not saying I'm not trying to win now. I'm just saying I'm not going to sacrifice the future to go you know, you know, nine and seven, you know, I want to build a Super Bowl team. And so that requires discipline decisions. I think this is a discipline decision, you know, and you guys can ask me about it yesterday and I kind of tried to my own way to say hey, give me give me a day. I said I'm not letting anything off the table but I'm glad it worked out.

Unknown Speaker  

CJ

Unknown Speaker  

here I don't think it is for the fan base.

Matt Rhule  

And I'm wondering if they start to catch it or I didn't quite hear you. I'm sorry. You said

Unknown Speaker  

bringing in cameras like bringing in Stefan or CJ but I think in this city to this fan Bass, it's much different. And I'm wondering if you're kind of aware of the fan excitement that's surrounding this move and kind of energizing the fan base.

Matt Rhule  

Yeah, absolutely. What my job like what I said was, I don't know how I said it. Like to me, when I bring in a player, I'm trying to help the team win. And that's it. Right? So I'm bringing cam here not to energize anyone, though, that's great that it does not to sell season tickets, we're bringing them here to win. And op Cam Newton is a winner. I know he can help us win. Healthy Cam Newton is excellent player, special player. So I just think, you know, the discipline of it is like you don't do things to make people happy. Because then you never you know, then you then you have old teams with big names. And you know, like, you don't win, like what the best team says, like, make discipline decisions. This is a discipline decision. This isn't like a, you know, this is an excellent player who's healthy that that's wants to be here. And I'm excited. So I wouldn't, I wouldn't. Sometimes I see things in my minimum one. One intent, like I understand, I saw the I saw all the fans out there with the number one Jersey coming in from practice. That's all that's awesome. But again, I think even cam would say to me, like when I when I can't, I'm sure Campbell is not living in what he's done. He wants it. He's all about what's next what he wants to do. And that's where I am. That's where this team is. This team wants to win. And this team moving forward, wants to win, and they want to win now and they want to win this year, they want to win next year, and like, they want to win. And so this isn't about anything other than winning. And, you know, I think that's one reason why cams come in here because he wants to win. That's why I'm bringing them here because I want to win. So I don't that makes sense. But that's just kind of how I see it. You know, I'm I'm happy that people are excited. Don't get me wrong. But you know, people I want to also I want to someday have a ticker tape parade here in Charlotte. Right? So, you know, it hasn't happened yet. And that weighs on my conscience, right? Like I want I want to bring a Super Bowl to the city. And so every step we make, it's Hey, can this help us get to the playoffs? Hey, can this help us win? Hey, can it because if we get to the playoffs, you never know what happens, right? You always have a chance. So you know, I'm not saying we're one of the playoffs. I'm not making any predictions. I'm not talking hypotheticals, but this is the most discipline move right now to give us a chance to win. And, you know, PJ has to go help us win this week. And PJ has to help us win the following weeks. I can't say anything about the future when what's happening or how it'll go down. But that's why we made the decision. What she would have done differently, what if anything, yeah, what I said was in anything, in anything in anything, I said insured anything, there's things we all would like to do differently. I have nothing to say about that right now. Just obviously, anytime a great player leaves an organization, it's really hard, right? And so, you know, if, if, if this was now right, and a great bit of one of our players leaves in rotation, I have a relationship with them, it's easy for me to sit down and visit with them. This was a unique time and unique timing and all that. You know, we did at the time, what we thought was in the best interest of the Carolina Panthers, I think you know, Cam went to New England, I'm sure he is much better for having been there. And now he has a chance to come back here to me, this is all this is all a journey that's coming to a fitting end. So you know, I don't live with a lot of hindsight, I don't look backwards, you know, you know, when you talk to someone if they have any feelings you listen to him. Cam was talking about the future cam wasn't talking about the past. And I'm talking about the future. I'm not talking about the past. So I'm ready to go.

Unknown Speaker  

On the speculation of future, but I mean, beyond this week, would it be fair to say that he will have a chance to compete for a starting job?

Matt Rhule  

Because no one's gonna answer. Of course, everyone's gonna compete because nobody well enough. I mean, yeah, just not speculate me on that. Just, you know, I, I'm just not doing it. So he's here to compete the play, I don't bring anyone here, not the play. And it's gonna take all the guys on the team. So it's gonna take everybody. So you know, there's nothing more than that, you know, I just want to get them here we go step by step

Unknown Speaker  

conversation that you kind of turn it over to Dave and Scott, or you call back in at any other point and kind of have it in progress. Yeah,

Matt Rhule  

Scott. And I do pretty much everything together. Right. I mean, I don't get in the minutiae of this contract that contract that's, you know, it's not good for the team for me to be involved in money, right? Because then, if someone doesn't like something they're walking around. I'm the coach. Obviously, Scott and I talk. So once it was done, I turned it over to Scott to deal with cams, agents. And then Samir, and, you know, from there so Scott and Samir took over from there and, you know, obviously with any decision this big, you know, David leaves the football to us. He's a great owner. Sometimes I think that that you guys don't necessarily believe that but they've they've they've they've laid the football us with a big issue like this, obviously, we consult them and he has, you know, amazing perspective and I can't think of anyone I'd want to talk money with more than Dave or process more than with Dave Tepper. So he's a he's a functional part of everything that we do, but you know, he trusts us to make decisions and Scott executed the rest of it.

Unknown Speaker  

You have another conversation Now last night this morning,

Matt Rhule  

yeah, after it was done this morning I was in the practice fields right before practice they called and he and I talked about when when he got over here if he was gonna come back usually come up and see me. So I talked to him Monday night. This is what now? Monday night this is enough. There's no Thursday so she's like, maybe it was, was it Monday night? Steven. I'm sorry guys, the week goes fast. But you understand what saying the first night we call them I call them and we've got got it done today. Tomorrow? I hope so. I hope so, you know, Fridays for us is a walkthrough so you know I'm hoping we get it with me on the physical goes well and all that minutia is done and get him upstairs and get started. You know, even if it's not for this week, getting ready for you know, the future just say this is, you know, there's a lot to learn quickly for a quarterback but you know, scans really smart. He can just translate most most guys that come from another team, they just translate Oh, this is this this is this. So it should go pretty quickly.

Unknown Speaker  

He was in contact and can

Matt Rhule  

we say level of urgency. I've just you know, I mean, we run down a lot of things. Anytime there's an issue, you know, wanted to add a quarterback with the injury. So you know, just said, Hey, this seems like the right decision to do it would have a conversation. And when he did it was exciting to me. He's a great player. So and you know, he was here before and I like being around him. So excited to have him back and excited when he said he was healthy.

Unknown Speaker  

What's the one thing you seen this happen to make you realize how much this means to Charlotte?

Matt Rhule  

I'm not in position to answer that. You know, I mean, I think you know, I think I think when I go around the city of Charlotte, I think I've talked before about Lou Can't you know cam, Greg, you know, all the great players have been here Julius, I think you'd have a great real feel for how much they love their players that have been through here. So you know, but at the end of the day, like, you know, I think the best thing I mean, I know it's hard but I think the best thing for cam and for me and for all of us is is you know, you live in the past you die in the present. You know, this is about cam moving forward. It's about us moving forward because that's what cam wants. That's not Matt rule saying that because some of you guys say Hey, Coach, you said afterwards like you said to look nice what cam has said to me in the past, like this is about his next chapter. And you know, I think cam has good football left a lot of good football left. So you know, that's why we made the decision but I'm sure it means I'll be like I said it driving up here and seeing people in their in his jersey. I think that means a lot. But, you know, I know Cam Newton, he's the ultimate competitor and he's gonna want to go out and play at a high level and then it was Tuesday, Tuesday, so I guess the Tuesday

Unknown Speaker  

is he here in the building as he takes physical? Yeah.

Matt Rhule  

Yeah, he's at the physical right now. Yeah. I have not seen them. I don't know when they do for the physicals. I mean, I've been on the practice for he was at Dave's house. He came as I said, he's doing the physical now and that should be over here. I think maybe he came here to come here earlier. It came here earlier to get started on the physicals. And so

Unknown Speaker  

you can just talk to what you think he's got some good football left in him. There's been at least seven other teams in the NFL that have had their backups have to play multiple, multiple games without signing candidate and just sat on site. What did you see in him that maybe others didn't? Or what did you see in him that said, Yeah, I still think he's got football, watch

Matt Rhule  

the tape. I went back and watch the film. The tape I'm not I mean, for me, he played really well on tape. I mean, you play me He willed them to six wins come off the surgery, you know. And we talked to talk to some people that coached him in New England they felt like he had a lot of football left. And when I say football, I'm talking about good football was anything I say get twisted like really good football so so I think just watching the tape while going back watching the preseason, you know, sometimes you just need a chance to get healthy you know, and so he had a chance to get healthy and truly get healthy. So excited to see what he does. You know, there's no corn and everything on the football game or anything. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  

I was gonna ask just football wise. Are you excited to see like what Joe might do with a camp package and how his offense might change to fit around cam skill set?

Matt Rhule  

Yeah, I mean, I think Joe's look really creative. I think we've done some creative things and it just hasn't always come to full fruition. You know, I mean, even last game, we had DJ in the Wildcat, we had some of the things planned. We never got to so I mean, I'm excited to see PJ let it rip this week. Because you know, as a coordinator, you have to you have to change what you're doing to have PJ go with the quarterback and then if and when cams ready to make sure Stewie does there but Joseph chosen excellent coordinator. I know the results aren't right now where we want them to be where Joe wants them to be. But that doesn't mean he's not doing a good job. And that's that's hard in today's world, but you know, law football left so I'm anxious to see let Joe show what he can do. He was limited today. person around you just didn't do a lot just making sure we take care of

Thank you

As he awaited the news conference Thursday at Bank of American stadium, WCNC Charlotte Sports Director Nick Carboni chatted with Julian Council, host of the Locked On Panthers podcast, about the surprise news of Cam Newton's return.

Locked On is the leading podcast network for local sports and is owned by WCNC Charlotte's parent company TEGNA. 
Listen to Locked On here. 

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