Cam Newton has been cleared to return to the Carolina Panthers’ starting lineup, the team announced Saturday. The 2015 NFL MVP missed the tail end of a Week 4 loss to Atlanta and all of a Week 5 defeat to Tampa Bay after suffering a concussion on a two-point conversion against the Falcons.
Last week’s game was only the third that Newton has missed in five-plus years as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. He was replaced by 2007 Pro Bowler Derek Anderson, who completed more than 69 percent of his passes in relief but also threw four interceptions in under five quarters of playing time. Carolina fell to 1-4 with Anderson in the lineup.
Newton had been struggling to regain his MVP form even before suffering a head injury. The three-time Pro Bowler had completed less than 58 percent of his passes and had posted a 6-5 TD-INT ratio in just under four games for the Panthers. Those numbers have led to a career-low 80.2 passer rating in 2016.
He’ll hope for a revival in week six. New Orleans’ lagging defense should give him several opportunities to shine. The Saints rank dead last in the league after allowing 32.5 points per game en route to a 1-3 start. They’re also giving up more than 300 passing yards every time they step on the field.
Carolina currently sits in last place in the NFC South and is three games behind division leader Atlanta.