Panthers sitting QB Newton; Heinicke to start vs. Falcons

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Panthers are shutting down quarterback Cam Newton for at least one game and possibly the remainder of the season due to a lingering right shoulder problem.

Coach Ron Rivera said Taylor Heinicke will make his first career start when Carolina hosts the Falcons on Sunday. Newton will be inactive.

Rivera said Wednesday the team hadn't made a decision about Newton's status for Week 17 at New Orleans.

The Panthers (6-8) have lost six straight games and dropped out of playoff contention as Newton has struggled with an unknown shoulder issue. He had surgery in March of 2017 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff and has had problems ever since.

Newton started 14 games and threw for 3,395 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. However, he has just nine TD passes and nine interceptions during Carolina's six-game skid.