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Cam Newton threw for a touchdown and ran in for another as he announced his return with the Carolina Panthers in style during Sunday’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals
Last Updated: 15/11/21 4:22pm
There was a reassuring familiarity as Cam Newton crouched to direct the sideline huddle with every nearby Carolina Panthers teammate hooked on his every word. It’s like he had never been away, like this was already his team again.
Of course, it’s not his team, not yet. And he willingly alluded to as much on the back of helping the Panthers dismantle the Kyler Murray-less Arizona Cardinals 34-10 in his first game since re-signing for the team in midweek.
Newton had been out of football, his days as a starting quarterback seemingly gone, before injury to Sam Darnold left the Panthers in need of help under center. Having released him in March 2020, Carolina swallowed their pride and put in a call to their eternally-loved fan favourite.
The 32-year-old signed a one-year deal worth up to $10m on Thursday, and had run in a touchdown within four minutes of his second debut on Sunday.
“I know a lot of people in the media, the newspapers, the blogs, they want to make it about me. It’s not about me. I keep saying it’s not about me,” said Newton post-game. “This was an impeccable team win.
“I’m so proud of (quarterback) P.J. (Walker), looking down the barrel so many times and delivering the ball, as well as everybody pulling together. It was exciting for us as a team, as an offense to take turns making plays.”
Walker was rightly handed his opportunity in the absence of Darnold, the former XFL quarterback finishing 22 of 29 for 167 yards and one interception. It was Christian McCaffrey that put the Panthers offense on his back, though, with 161 total yards from scrimmage.
Newton’s best work had been done by the end of the first quarter, during which he followed up his two-yard rushing score on the Panthers’ opening drive with a two-yard strike to Robby Anderson on his team’s next possession.
“Well, I’ll put it like this,” he said. “This time last week I was eating a bowl of cereal. Like, you feel me?
“I’m just floating at an all-time high frequency. It’s almost scary. The conversations that I’m having, the people that I’m meeting, the things that I’m able to do.”
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Newton completed 242 of 368 passes (65.8 per cent) for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions, as well as rushing for 592 yards and 12 scores in 15 games for the New England Patriots last season, before being released at the end of August as rookie Mac Jones was named starter.
In a week when the Panthers spotlight had rarely deviated from him, nobody has been more acknowledging of team-first values and accountability than the former league MVP.
“It’s the little things,” he said. “You know what I’m saying. It’s the dinners. It’s the cigar talks. It’s the text messages. It’s the ‘Hey, bro, come on now’. It’s those interactions (…) that you miss.
“I’m no different than anybody else and I want people to hold me accountable. I think the thing that I’ve learnt as growth is: who cares who gets the glory? Because at the end of the day, when you got a game like this, we all win.”