The Carolina Panthers aren't the same team without quarterback Cam Newton. While you could probably say that about any NFL franchise who had to take the field without their first-string signal caller, it's even more true for the Panthers.

Without a healthy Newton during the second half of the 2018 season, the Panthers immediately regressed to the worst team in the NFC South. After suffering a foot injury in the Week 3 preseason matchup against the New England Patriots, many were worried that the Panthers would have to start the 2019 campaign without him. Thankfully, that worry has been put to rest.

When the Panthers released their first injury report for Week 1, Newton's name was not listed. The "mid-foot sprain" he suffered on his left foot has healed, and he is ready to take on the Los Angeles Rams

"I don't want to dwell on something that's irrelevant or what doesn't need to be talked about," Newton told reporters when asked about his foot, according to "Excited about the matchup on Sunday. Really looking forward to playing four quarters of football."

Newton isn't just excited that football is back. He's excited about where he is in his life in general. Witnessing cut day in the NFL can do that to you.

"I feel like a rookie again. I'm having fun, feeling good and the thrill is still there, man," Newton said. "I'm blessed, just knowing that, man, you just got to sometimes put things into perspective. Just two or three weeks, two or three days ago, grown men cried, you know what I'm saying? People getting unexpectedly cut, released, traded or whatever. I'm just lucky to be a part of a fan base and organization for the same nine years. A lot of people can't say the same."

Entering his ninth NFL season, Newton still has sky-high expectations. His Panthers made it to the Super Bowl just four years ago, but Carolina is hoping they have the firepower to get back in 2019.  

Running back Christian McCaffrey is emerging as one of the best running backs in the NFL, the Panthers have a couple of budding stars out wide in Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore and the defense is still a force to be reckoned with. In the middle of all of that is the powerful yet stabilizing force in Newton.