Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will not play this Sunday against Atlanta and is expected to be shut down for the final two games as he continues to deal with a sore throwing shoulder, a league source confirmed to ESPN.
Panthers GM Marty Hurney confirmed yesterday that Newton will be inactive for Sunday's game against the Falcons. Backup Taylor Heinicke—yeah, I never heard of him either—will start and will be backed up by Kyle Allen.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera left open the possibility that Newton could play in the season finale at New Orleans if the playoffs are a possibility.
"He'll be on the 53-man all the way through," Rivera said. "Crazy enough things can happen and we'll see from there."
Cam had no touchdowns and five interceptions when throwing 15-plus yards downfield during the Panthers' six-game losing streak.
Rivera added: "We had the opportunity to visit with the doctors, the trainers and Cam himself. In talking with Marty and the owner [David Tepper], obviously we felt our best opportunity to win a football game was to have a healthy Taylor to start this week.''
Newton has been battling soreness in his right shoulder since throwing 22 passes in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia on October 21st.
The decision to shut down the 2015 NFL MVP's season came two days after Newton struggled in Monday night's 12-9 loss to New Orleans, which left the Panthers (6-8) with less than a one-percent chance of making the playoffs.
Heinicke is making his first NFL start. He has five career pass attempts, including four for the Panthers this season. Three came at the end of either a first half or a game, when the Panthers attempted a Hail Mary.
Hey, one-percent??? This season has become a Hail Mary for Carolina