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NFL: Panthers sitting quarterback Cam Newton; Taylor Heinicke to start vs. Falcons

Panthers to sit Cam Newton for final two games with shoulder soreness
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton greets wide receiver Devin Funchess (17) as quarterback Taylor Heinicke (6) prepares to run a drill during practice.
(David T. Foster III / Tribune News Service)

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.

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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.

Dolphins’ Frank Gore goes on IR because of sprained foot

Running back Frank Gore has been placed on injured reserve by the Miami Dolphins because of a season-ending sprained foot.

Defensive tackle Kendrick Norton was signed to take Gore’s roster spot.

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Gore, hurt in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota, leads the Dolphins with 722 yards rushing. He’s the NFL’s fourth all-time leading rusher with 14,478 yards.

Gore, 35, has played in 126 consecutive games and made 122 starts in a row, and both streaks are the longest by an NFL offensive skill player. He has said he’s uncertain whether he wants to play next year.

Out of playoff contention, Broncos put Harris on IR

With Denver out of playoff contention and facing a slew of injuries at cornerback, the Broncos placed star Chris Harris Jr. on injured reserve and signed free agent Craig Mager, who was released by the Chargers earlier this season.

Harris sustained a chip fracture in his lower right leg two weeks ago and was hoping to return for the Broncos’ final game, Dec. 30 against the Chargers, but that was only if Denver remained in contention. The Broncos (6-8) were eliminated last weekend following their second straight loss to a sub.-500 team.

Mager was a third-round pick from Texas State in 2015 who played in 24 career games, 10 starts, with one interception for the Chargers before he was released with an injury settlement in September after he hurt a hamstring.

In addition to losing Harris, rookie cornerback Isaac Yiadom missed last week’s game against the Browns with a concussion. Two more cornerbacks were injured against Cleveland, Brendan Langley (head) and Bradley Roby (lip) and another, Jamar Taylor, was ejected for throwing a punch.

That left Denver with one healthy cornerback in Tremaine Brock and Cleveland scored its game-winning TD with safeties Justin Simmons and Dymonte Harris forced into route coverage.

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Lions put Kerryon Johnson on IR, activate Jamal Agnew off IR

The Detroit Lions put rookie running back Kerryon Johnson on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Detroit also activated returner Jamal Agnew from IR on Wednesday. Agnew has been out since Week 5 because of a knee injury. He was an All-Pro last season as a rookie after returning two punts for touchdowns.

Johnson ran for 641 yards and three scores before his injury last month. He also had 32 receptions for 213 yards and a score. Johnson ran for a season-high 158 yards in a win at Miami and had 101 yards rushing in a victory over New England.

Detroit added depth at running back by signing running back Justin Stockton to the practice squad and cutting guard Salesi Uhatafe from it.

Redskins’ Nicholson won’t play Saturday after arrest

Redskins safety Montae Nicholson has been ruled out for Saturday’s game at Tennessee following his arrest earlier this week.

Nicholson was arrested early Tuesday morning and charged with assault and battery and being drunk in public stemming from a fight at a restaurant and retail complex near the team’s practice facility in Ashburn, Virginia.

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Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kraig Troxell confirmed Nicholson’s arrest. He said Tuesday the 23-year-old had been released on $2,500 bond.

Police say Nicholson and 24-year-old Sydney Maggiore were involved in a verbal altercation that escalated to a physical assault of two victims, one man and one woman.

The team has yet to officially suspend the second-year player from Michigan State.

“We don’t know yet,” coach Jay Gruden said about Nicholson’s status for the rest of the season. “We’re going to have a discussion up here right after this practice and then decide what to do.”

Earlier Wednesday, the Redskins placed cornerback Danny Johnson on injured reserve and signed Jeremy Reaves to the active roster.

“Every week it’s something,” said Redskins cornerback Josh Norman about dealing with all of the changes in the secondary this season.

“Injuries, sit outs, illness . the little engine that could train. We’re going to be at the game and we’re going to fight hard.”

A 2017 fourth-round pick, Nicholson has played in all 14 of Washington’s games and is 10th on the team with 41 tackles. He started the first seven games of his second NFL season before moving to a backup role for the past seven after the Redskins traded for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Jets place RT Brandon Shell on IR with knee injury

The New York Jets have placed right tackle Brandon Shell on season-ending injured reserve with a knee injury.

Shell was hurt last Saturday in the Jets’ loss to Houston. He was carted off the field in the third quarter after left guard Spencer Long rolled into his left leg. Shell immediately grabbed at his knee as trainers ran onto the field to check on him.

Coach Todd Bowles wouldn’t provide details Wednesday as to the nature of Shell’s injury, other than to say it was “pretty bad.” He also says the offensive lineman will need surgery.

Shell started 29 games over the past three seasons since being drafted in the fifth round out of South Carolina. He’s the great-nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Shell.

The Jets also claimed linebacker Emmanuel Lamur off waivers from Oakland to take Shell’s spot on the active roster.

Lamur has 193 tackles in seven NFL seasons, most recently with the Raiders after stints with Minnesota and Cincinnati.


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