Taylor Heinicke to start in place of Cam Newton on Sunday

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The Panthers will reportedly start Taylor Heinicke under center this week against the Falcons.

"He'll be on the 53-man all the way through", Rivera said. "This is one of those things that, you know, we had a great conversation with him and he understands going forward".

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".

"He understood our thinking behind this", Rivera said. "He's disappointed and he's frustrated". You know him; he wants to play. None of these players really have anything left to demonstrate to secure their roles going forwards and exposing them to injuries would be foolish.

Newton was not made available for comment on Wednesday, but discussed how hard it's been with not knowing what is wrong with the shoulder after Monday night's loss to the Saints. Heinicke took the first-team snaps.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) carries the ball in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium.

Newton is not out for the season.

The 29-year-old Newton expressed frustration after the loss. He said nothing he has tried, from acupuncture to massage, has worked.

"They have actually mentioned that multiple times", Wright said.

It was time to shut Newton down, which the Panthers finally did Wednesday - at least for this week's game against Atlanta. Newton came into the season with a career completion percentage of 58.5 in seven seasons. Newton completed just one pass that traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage - a 17-yarder to Curtis Samuel midway through the first quarter. He missed two games in 2014 when he was coming off offseason foot surgery.

Heinicke will nearly certainly have some rough welcome-to-the-NFL moments in his first start, but he has enough talent not to embarrass himself or his team.

Heinicke has played in five games this season for the Panthers, completing two of his four pass attempts for 46 yards.