Panthers get ready to get behind Carr

Jake Delhomme has not practiced all week, making it a near-lock that backup David Carr will start in his place on Sunday against Tampa Bay. Carr escaped to Carolina after five losing seasons with the Houston Texans.

Carolina's secret weapon will likely be watching from the sidelines on Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.

Jake Delhomme's strained right elbow, suffered last Sunday against Atlanta, kept the veteran quarterback from practicing all week, opening the door for backup David Carr to start this Sunday.

Delhomme is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game, and head coach John Fox has, thus far, been mum on who will start.

Delhomme's absence could be key for the Panthers (2-1) in this key NFC South matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1). Delhomme is 7-1 against the Buccaneers since arriving in Carolina in 2003. Plus, he started this season on a tear, throwing eight touchdown passes and just one interception.

He's led the Panthers to a Super Bowl and two NFC Championship games in his four years as a starter and given the Panthers elusive stability at the game's most important position.

"He's the type of quarterback who's going to let his players make plays," Bucs safety Jermaine Phillips said of Delhomme.

Delhomme is the classic pocket passer, where Carr is a bit more likely to be mobile. He also doesn't have Delhomme's reputation.

Houston selected Carr No. 1 overall in 2002 out of Fresno State. He started immediately, but a variety of factors led to his release after the 2006 season.

The Texans never had a winning season with Carr at quarterback, but didn't do him any favors as the Texans were never able to surround him with enough talent, especially up front. Carr absorbed a league record 82 sacks as a rookie.

When Carr went looking for a new team, he imagined one with a better supporting cast and one more likely to make the playoffs. He said he found that in Carolina.

"The offensive line was solid, they were healthy and one of the best in the NFL," Carr said. "So it was a no-brainer for me."

Panthers head coach John Fox felt the team needed a veteran backup after the Panthers went 1-2 without Delhomme late last year, an absence that took the Panthers out of the playoff chase.

Fox felt Carr's overall experience as a quarterback made him a good fit, and he remembered how much he thought of Carr when the former Bulldog came out of college. The Panthers had the No. 2 overall pick and might have taken Carr if the Texans went another direction.

"I think as competitive as this league is now you need to have quality backups everywhere," Fox said.

Carr played in Delhomme's absence last week in Atlanta and, statistically, didn't do much. He went 3-of-4 for 56 yards. But the Panthers were productive on the ground, so it wasn't necessary for Carr to throw too much.

That will change on Sunday. Fox said because Carr had been with the team since May that he didn't feel the need to scale back the offensive game plan. Carr said he hoped the team wouldn't. The Bucs defense, which hasn't gotten a great pass rush so far this season, will have defensive end Patrick Chukwurah back in the rotation.

So which Carr will show up? The one every NFL scout imagined he would be when he came out of college, or the one that wore out his welcome in Houston?

Either way, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said, the Bucs are preparing for someone with experience.

"You're not dealing with a novice," Gruden said.

Panthers primer

Three things to watch on Sunday

David Carr

The former Texans starter may make his first start with the Panthers. Can he create the same chemistry Jake Delhomme has with the rest of the passing game?

Steve Smith and …

Neither Keary Colbert nor Drew Carter has stepped up to assume a firm grasp on the No. 2 job at wide receiver. Who will? It may make a difference in the passing game.

Peppers' malaise

No sacks in the first three games for one of the game's most feared pass rushers? More disturbing is the fact that it's not tacking double teams to defend Julius Peppers anymore.


Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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