Patriots

Cam Newton's status as starter unclear in Carolina

Patriots

In a limited role, Cam Newton provided a spark in his return to the Carolina Panthers he seldom did during his one season with the New England Patriots.

Newton completed 3 of 4 passes for 8 yards and a touchdown, in addition to three rushes for 14 yards and a touchdown -- his two scoring plays coming on the first two snaps he took in Carolina's 34-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

WATCH: Cam screams 'I'm back!' after scoring TD for Panthers

Was it enough to earn him a start for the Panthers next Sunday in his first home game back in Charlotte? Second-year Carolina coach Matt Rhule, who never coached Newton with the Panthers, was noncommittal following the win over the Cardinals.

Making his first start of the season for Carolina, the former XFL quarterback P.J. Walker completed 22 of 29 passes for 167 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.

It warrants mentioning that under Newton's pact with the Panthers, he can earn up to $6 million for the duration of the season, with $4.5 million guaranteed.

Running back Christian McCaffrey, who played with Newton in Carolina from 2017-19, certainly endorsed the former Heisman Trophy winner, No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and 2015 MVP.

Thickening the plot is that the Panthers play host to the Washington Football Team next week... a group now coached by Ron Rivera, whose time with the Panthers ran concurrently with Newton's from 2011-19. Washington was one of several quarterback-needy teams that passed on signing Newton following his release from the Patriots at the end of training camp.

For what it's worth, Carolina still has two games left against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and another notable former New England quarterback in Weeks 16 and 18.