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Cam Newton’s health under scrutiny as Panthers face Bucs on Thursday Night Football

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Cam Newton’s health under scrutiny as Panthers face Bucs on Thursday Night Football

Week 2 of the 2019 NFL season begins Thursday with an NFC South divisional matchup between a pair of 0-1 teams: The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Follow along here for live updates.

Buccaneers at Panthers When: Thursday at 8:20 p.m. Eastern

Where: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte

TV: NFL Network

Streaming: NFL.com , Yahoo Sports, fuboTV

Pregame reading When the season began, there were injury-related questions about Cam Newton’s shoulder and his ankle. The quarterback for the Carolina Panthers and former league MVP underwent arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder in January, less than two years after he underwent surgery on the same right shoulder for a partially torn rotator cuff. Newton hurt his ankle during the preseason.

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He was in Carolina’s season-opening lineup Sunday. But his performance did little to put any concerns about the soundness of his shoulder and ankle to rest. Newton didn’t have a completion longer than 17 yards in the Panthers’ 30-27 loss at home to the Los Angeles Rams. As a runner, he had three carries for minus-two yards.

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So there will be plenty of scrutiny on Newton as he tries to get the Panthers into the win column for the season Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Charlotte

“I feel great,” Newton said when he met with reporters this week. “I’m ready for Thursday.”

[ NFL power rankings, Week 2: Antonio Brown will make the Patriots next to unbeatable or ruin them ]

Much was said about Newton’s shoulder during the Panthers’ unraveling in the second half of last season. His ability to throw the ball down the field was questioned. Those questions continued this week, and Newton acknowledged during his news conference that he has found it bothersome

You’re only asking me because of my shoulder,” he said. “How about this? You talk to the defensive coordinator for Tampa and don’t think I can throw the ball over 20 yards. And see how far that gets you. How about that?”

Newton joked that Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner must have chosen tailback Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 128 yards on 19 carries and added 10 catches for 81 yards against the Rams, and not Newton for his fantasy football team

“I should’ve went over and seen who he was drafting in his league,” Newton said. “That’s probably why we ain’t doing no deep passes, right? Because he didn’t pick me for his quarterback? Now it’s all making sense. Golly.”

No one around the team will be laughing much if the Panthers lose again Thursday night. They went 1-7 in the second half of last season to miss the playoffs after a 6-2 start. They need Newton to begin resembling the player he was earlier in his career

“I just want to win,” Newton said. “I don’t care. I just want to win in the worst way, straight up. I don’t care if I throw a ball at all.”

This is a divisional matchup of 0-1 teams trying to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. It marks the first appearance for Panthers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy against his former team after the Buccaneers released him in May following nine seasons and six Pro Bowl appearances

It’s also a quarterbacking matchup of former Heisman Trophy winners and top overall selections in the NFL draft. It will be the second game for the Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston under the team’s new head coach, Bruce Arians. Hopes that Arians would get improved results out of Winston were dented when Winston threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, in Sunday’s 31-17 defeat at home to the San Francisco 49ers to open the season

The loser of this game emerges with a record of 0-2 and even bigger worries

“We’ve just got to be better,” Newton said. “We’re coming around. It’s early. … We’ve just got to get that edge back. It starts offensively.”

More NFL coverage:

Sean Payton is moving the Saints past the NFC Championship no-call, but he hasn’t forgotten

The NFL wanted a celebration for its 100th season. Instead it got Antonio Brown.

Jets quarterback Sam Darnold out indefinitely because of mono

Brewer: Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and the dangers of judging quarterbacks too early

Best bets for NFL Week 2: Take the Dolphins and the points against the Patriots