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Panthers' Matt Rhule: 'I absolutely want Cam here'

The Panthers are expected to proceed with Cam Newton as their starting quarterback.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that Carolina intends to retain its longtime signal-caller, per a source informed of the situation.

Speaking at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, new Panthers head coach Matt Rhule expressed his excitement about coaching Newton.

"I absolutely want Cam here. There's no doubt about that," Rhule said. "At the end of the day, it's all about what's next for us. We have to make sure we continue to get him healthy and he's doing a great job of that. I want to make sure I say that. He's going above and beyond in that regard so, when healthy, I think there's no doubt about who he is and what he can do. We just have to get him there."

As Rapoport notes, while Newton is making progress in his recovery from a foot injury, it will be several months before the QB will be game ready, which complicates a potential trade for Newton.

But Rhule declined to immediately name Newton the starter.

"I don't want to say about anybody that they'll be a starter," Rhule said. "I'll try to be -- especially in my first year -- to be really disciplined about not promising things to certain guys. I'll just say I really want him on the team. I really want him to be healthy. I know when Cam's healthy, who he is and the type of player he is. ...To me it's just about are we doing all the things to get him healthy? When Cam's healthy he's one of the best of the best. I won't speculate maybe on the future of really any player on our team but I'd like to get him healthy and like to get him out there."

Rhule says that stance isn't applicable to just Newton's situation but for the entire Panthers roster, pointing to a culture change.

"I don't think I'm going to say anybody is a starter yet -- really just in the first year," Rhule said. "I think it's really important for me as I go in there that I want to create a culture of competition. I want to create a culture of where nothing is promised to anybody. I think in Years 2 or 3 for me maybe it will be a little bit different. I think that's really important for me and like I said I don't think that has anything to do with Cam. It just has to do with overall philosophy. When it comes to Cam, Cam's a special player so really the only thing that really matters right now is getting Cam healthy but I want to make sure I say I'm excited to have him here. I want him to be here. I want to coach him."

Newton appeared in two games last season after injuring his foot during the preseason. After months of delay, he went under the knife in December.

The foot injury was the latest ailment for the dual-threat quarterback. Newton had shoulder surgery in back-to-back offseasons after putting off the procedure in the past.

While a lot can change in the coming months with free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft looming, Newton staying in Carolina makes sense for the Panthers. Having an experienced, healthy starter under center would be an advantage for the new head coach in his transition to the NFL.

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