Panthers to give Cam Newton most first-team reps, on track to start vs. WFT

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Panthers to give Newton first-team reps, on track to start vs. WFT originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Ron Rivera will likely see a familiar face under center for Washington's opponent when the Burgundy and Gold travel to Carolina next week.

After signing longtime quarterback Cam Newton back last week, the Panthers plan to give the QB most of the first-team reps during practice this week, setting him up to start for Carolina this Sunday when they host Washington.

"We'll give Cam most of the reps this week," Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Monday. "[Backup QB] PJ [Walker] will get reps, as he always has. We'll give Cam most of the reps, try to get him as most up to speed as possible."

Should Newton show in practice that he has an understanding of Carolina's offense and is ready to play, he'll be the starter for Carolina moving forward.

"We'll start getting him ready and if he's ready to start, great," Rhule said. "If he's not quite ready to do everything, obviously PJ is available. It's kind of that plan right now."

Rhule made it clear that he wants Newton to be fully up to speed before he names the 2015 NFL MVP his starting quarterback, too. The head coach does not want to rush Newton out before he truly understands everything the Panthers are trying to accomplish on offense.

"I want everything that Cam brings. I don't want Cam-lite. I want the full Cam," he said.

Newton, who signed with Carolina on Thursday, played nine offensive snaps for the Panthers on Sunday in the team's blowout win over the impressive Arizona Cardinals. Newton accounted for two touchdowns, one courtesy of his legs and one on a pass to wideout Robby Anderson.

"I thought he did a great job last week having 10 plays that he was kind of ready for," Rhule said.

Sunday's matchup figures to be a special one at Bank of America Stadium, as the Panthers welcome back Rivera for his first game back since he was let go as Carolina's head coach in 2019. Like Carolina, Washington is coming off an impressive victory, and both teams need a win come Sunday to remain in the playoff hunt.

"I'm excited about the chance to play this weekend," Rhule said. "We have a chance to play the Washington Football Team, welcome Coach Rivera back, welcome a really good football team that just beat the Buccaneers back. So our preparation has to be as good as it's ever been."