It didn’t take even five minutes for Cam Newton to make his presence known during Sunday’s official return to the Panthers. P.J. Walker got the start at quarterback for Carolina against the Cardinals, but Newton took the field on second-and-goal on the team’s first offensive possession, and not only that, but he proceeded to elude at least three defenders for a touchdown run, scoring the game’s first points, giving the Panthers a 7-0 lead and following it all up with an emphatic celebration, removing his helmet before yelling to the crowd and cameras: “I’m back! I’m back!”
Indeed he is. Days removed from his sudden return to the Panthers on a one-year deal, the former NFL MVP was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct as a result of his celebration. But it’s undeniable he’s already a big part of the Panthers’ plans. All signs point toward Newton fully taking over under center in Week 11, when he figures to succeed Sam Darnold for the remainder of 2021, but already No. 1 has infused Week 10 — and the Panthers — with more energy.
Exhibit A? Newton, last seen with the Patriots in the offseason, returned to the field on the Panthers’ very next offensive series, only to throw a touchdown, giving him two scores on his first two plays of the season. Carolina went on to hand the Cardinals their second loss of the season, 34-10.