CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton has lost his last eight starts, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious the Carolina Panthers’ hopes of turning him into a pocket passer are failing.

That raises questions about the former No. 1 pick’s long-term future in Carolina.

Whether it’s a matter of coaches not wanting to jeopardize Newton reinjuring his right shoulder or sprained foot or Newton not wanting to run as much, it is clear the 2015 NFL league MVP is no longer the dominant multidimensional quarterback he once was. He’s run five times this season for minus-2 yards, fumbling twice.

Newton was once one of the toughest and most dangerous quarterbacks in the league when he combined running with passing.

But with the Panthers getting away from using the 6-foot-5, 245-pounder in read option plays, Newton is among the NFL’s bottom tier quarterbacks. Accuracy has never been his strength – he’s a 59.6 percent career passer.

Newton completed 24 of 50 passes for 324 yards in Carolina’s 20-14 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night. He missed 15 open receivers – 10 passes overthrown, five underthrown – according to ESPN Stats & Information research. ESPN also cited Newton being 0 for 10 passing while under duress, along with taking three sacks.

“All fingers are just pointing back to me specifically on offense,” said Newton, who has not thrown or run for a touchdown in his last four starts.

For Newton to be effective, he needs to be able to run. But in his last six starts, he’s rushed for more than 35 yards only once, and he hasn’t scored since Oct. 28, 2018. The Panthers are 0-7 when Newton runs twice or less in a game.

NFL defenses no longer seem to fear Newton as a runner.

“He can’t take them hits like that,” Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves said. “It’s going to eat his body up. … We expected more throwing as he is getting older in his career.”

Newton is scheduled to cost $21 million under the 2020 salary cap. The Panthers, however, could save $19 million under the cap by releasing him and dealing only with $2 million in dead cap space, according to Sportrac.

The options behind Newton remain unproven.

Kyle Allen is the No. 2 quarterback. He led the Panthers to a 33-14 win over the Saints in Week 17 last year but looked shaky in the preseason. The Panthers drafted Will Grier from West Virginia in the third round, and while they’re high on him as a long-term replacement, he’s not yet taken the next step to being NFL ready. He has been listed as inactive the first two games.

The best immediate option may be letting Newton do what he does best – run the football.

JAGUARS: Fourth-year defensive end Yannick Ngakoue will miss the first game of his NFL career when the Jacksonville Jaguars play at Houston on Sunday.

Coach Doug Marrone ruled Ngakoue because of a hamstring injury suffered in the opener.

GIANTS: New York may be without all of its top receivers for the home opener against the Buffalo Bills.

Coach Pat Shurmur said Sterling Shepard will miss Sunday’s game because of a concussion and Cody Latimer is questionable because of a calf injury. Rookie receiver Darius Slayton will miss his second straight game because of a hamstring injury and veteran Golden Tate III is suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy.

Shepard was hurt in the season-opening loss to Dallas last weekend, while Latimer injured his calf in practice Wednesday.

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