With all of the hype surrounding Cam Newton's return to Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, one would be excused for forgetting that the Panthers actually started and leaned much more on another passer, PJ Walker, in their most recent outing.
Yet even as Carolina coach Matt Rhule explained that Newton will receive "most of the reps this week" ahead of Washington's Week 11 visit with the dot-connecting indicating that Newton will end up starting for the squad, Jack Del Rio told reporters on Thursday that he's still expecting to face Walker for a good deal of the action when the two clubs meet.
"They have their system, there's no way [Newton] can learn all of their system in two weeks," Del Rio said. "So there's going to be the part that they pick and choose and decide to use. We anticipate seeing both quarterbacks. So, we've prepared that way."
Against the Cardinals, Newton went 3-of-4 through the air and tossed a touchdown. He also rushed three times for 14 yards and another score. After his six-point scamper, which was his first touch since re-joining the franchise, he screamed, "I'm back!" and the ensuing clip of the sequence was celebrated on social media.
Del Rio does certainly anticipate Newton's role growing in his second appearance for the Panthers but imagines it'll still feature much of what Newton specializes in.
"Knowing some of the things that Cam's good it I'm sure they'll utilize, which they showed a little bit last week," he said. "Some of the [quarterback] runs, some of the [quarterback] power, some of that stuff that he does that is unique. He's a unique guy."
Walker, meanwhile, finished the victory 22-of-29 for 167 yards; he wasn't asked to do a lot by the staff, but he did manage his workload effectively.
When the topic of handling Newton specifically came up in his Thursday session with the media — how many snaps will he be in on? What sort of pressure does he put on a defense? — Jonathan Allen chose to downplay the whole thing (which is what Jonathan Allen does to almost everything, to be fair).
"That's definitely the challenge for our coaches," Allen said. "For me personally, I just know I have to stop the run, be very sound with my gaps, give great pressure and get some interior pocket push."
One thing Newton will undeniably bring to the matchup on Sunday is an avalanche of added intrigue. As Del Rio put it, the Carolina legend is a key piece to the "big backdrop" of the contest.
"Super-talented guy with the history," he said.
No matter how much or how little Washington squares off with him this weekend, Del Rio would obviously love to limit Newton's "super" talents as much as possible.