Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be the starter against Washington on Sunday in his return to Bank of America Stadium.
Head coach Matt Rhule announced at Carolina's availability Friday that Newton "will take the first snap," while also adding that fellow quarterback P.J. Walker will also have a role to play against the Burgundy and Gold.
"We have plays for Cam, plays for P.J.," Rhule said, per the team's official website. "P.J. we think is an excellent quarterback, Cam can make a difference, so we'll use both of them."
Newton, who Bill Belichick and New England released on the final day of roster cuts before Week 1, marked his return to the Panthers in style with a couple touchdowns on his first two touches in a 34-10 shock victory against Arizona. With the Panthers treating Sam Darnold as done for the season due to a nondisplaced scapula fracture, Newton and Walker will look to complement each other and cause Jack Del Rio and the rest of Washington's defensive coordinators headaches.
Newton played under center for nine seasons after getting drafted first overall in 2011. Rising to MVP accolades during that magical 2015 season, the 15-1 Panthers finished runner-ups to Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. Newton's time in Carolina blue then soured during the next few seasons.
A pair of 6-8 finishes sandwiched an 11-5 season before the Panthers released Newton in March 2020. Newton threw eight touchdowns with a 65.8% completion percentage and rushed for 12 TDs while posting a career-worst QB rating (47.0) in a 7-8 season with New England last year.
Rivera had multiple chances to sign Newton to Washington both in the offseason and after Ryan Fitzpatrick's Week 1 injury, but now faces the task of game planning against the dynamic playmaker. With all the media attention on Newton in his first game back home during this second Panthers stint, Newton was quick to deflect any sort of storylines pointed at Rivera and himself.
"It's not about us. It's not about me, it's not about him," Newton said. "He knows how I feel about him. And, he knows what it's going to be on Sunday."