Inside slant: Carolina Panthers Week 6

Need the inside scoop on the Buccaneers' NFC South rivals? Look no further than the "Inside Slant." Every Thursday Bucsblitz.com offers a preview of the weekend's games for the rest of the division. Go inside Carolina's upcoming game with scouting information, injury updates and key matchups.

Now that Vinny Testaverde is a Carolina Panther, the big question is this: Could he start this week?

That was the question posed to Testaverde less than six hours after he signed a one-year contract with the Panthers and went through his first practice with the team.

It's not as farfetched as you might think.

With Jake Delhomme out for the season and David Carr held out of practice Wednesday while nursing a sore back, it's possible the Panthers could call upon the 43-year-old Testaverde to start right away.

Matt Moore is also on the roster, and while he excited some fans with a 43-yard pass completion last week to Keary Colbert, he's still a rookie and probably not ready to step in and start.

"If called upon, I feel like I could play," Testaverde said. "I will do whatever they ask me to do. That's why I'm here. I feel comfortable in this situation and we'll just go forward from here and see what happens. Hopefully I won't need to take a snap this year."

Carr hopes that is the case, too.

He said that while his back is still sore, he's hoping to be ready to start Sunday.

"I felt like my grandpa on Monday; I felt like my dad today, and hopefully I'll feel like my 7-year-old son by Sunday," Carr joked. "I've gotten better every day."

When asked if he could play right now, Carr said. "It would be tough. I'd have to get the adrenaline going a little bit, but I could probably do it? Yeah."

But just how effective he'll be throwing with a bad back remains a question.

There's always the possibility the Panthers may try to rest Carr this week and get to the bye week, knowing that they will need a healthy Carr to carry this team for the remainder of the season.

When asked if he felt like Testaverde could step in and start this week if needed, coach John Fox said, "Oh yeah, both mentally and physically. He's a guy that we were fortunate to be able to find at this point in the season."

As for Carr, Fox said, "We'll evaluate that tomorrow. We anticipate him having a shot at playing Sunday."

Although he's never actually worked with Panthers offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson, Testaverde said he's familiar with the offense, calling it similar to what he was around with the New York Jets in 2005 and New England last year and in training camp earlier this summer before getting cut.

This is Testaverde's 21st NFL season.

And while his new teammates immediately began giving him grief as he stepped up to the line of scrimmage Wednesday for the first time -- "Hey Dad," some of them joked -- the fact is Testaverde knows the game and is plenty smart.

"I haven't told those guys yet, but I have probably forgotten more football than these guys already know," Testaverde joked.

Testaverde also drew interest in recent days from Arizona, but decided to join the Panthers because Charlotte is closer to his New York home, where his wife and three kids live. He said when the Panthers called, he didn't have to convince himself to return to the NFL.

"I was excited. I really was," he said. "I have been playing with the kids. I've been working out and staying in shape. I didn't have any reservations (about returning)."

Carolina will be Testaverde's seventh team. He's also played for Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, the Jets (twice), Dallas and New England. Testaverde's last stint as a full-time starter came in Dallas in 2005. He started 15 games that season and threw 17 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions.

For his career, Testaverde has played in 226 games and completed 3,693 passes for 45,281 yards with 270 touchdown passes and 261 interceptions. He was the first overall draft pick by the Bucs in 1987. He has played in two Pro Bowls -- in 1996 with Baltimore and 1998 with the Jets. He holds the NFL record for throwing a touchdown pass in 20 straight seasons.

SERIES HISTORY

7th meeting. Panthers lead series 4-2, but this will be the first meeting between the two teams at the new University of Phoenix Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Cardinals in 2003, '04 and '05, but the two teams did not play last season. The Panthers overcame 298 combined receiving yards by Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to beat the Cards 24-20 at Sun Devil Stadium on Oct. 9, 2005. Delhomme threw for 243 yards and two scores and Stephen Davis ran for another touchdown.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme said he's "excited" about having surgery on his right elbow next Thursday.

Perhaps then he'll be pain-free.

Delhomme admitted Wednesday that he's been experiencing soreness in his elbow since the start of the 2005 season, but never really made it an issue and simply played through the pain.

He can't anymore.

Two weeks of rest and rehab did nothing to help Delhomme after he injured it Sept. 23 against the Atlanta Falcons. And when he experienced severe pain while trying to throw Monday, he knew it was time to shut it down.

"I'm trying to take a positive approach," Delhomme said. "I'm 32, and this will be my first surgery I have ever had to endure from an NFL season -- and that's part of it. You hate to sound that way, but the thing I'm encouraged about is I'm going to get my elbow fixed."

Delhomme said quarterback Craig Erickson had the same Tommy John surgery in the early 1990s, and was able to return and play in the NFL. Ironically, Carolina trainer Ryan Vermillion was there to help Erickson with the rehab process, so he has experience dealing with this injury.

--Testaverde has served as the quarterback-for-hire before.

In 2005, the Jets lost Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler the same week and quickly moved to sign Testaverde. While he didn't play that first week, he did the week after against Tampa Bay. Testaverde didn't do anything special that day -- he completed just 13 of 19 passes for 163 yards with no touchdowns and one interception -- but he managed the game well and the Jets won 14-12.

Testaverde said the hardest part about being thrown into the mix would be getting on the same page with his new receivers.

"Each player runs routes a little different, whether it's a comeback or a slant or whatever," he said. "Each player has his own way to get to that spot, so you have to read their body language. That's what the offseason is for. ... But we obviously don't have that luxury."

QUOTE TO NOTE

"I feel bad for my buddy. I mean, because we've got to know each other pretty good the past couple of months. Even if we didn't play football we would probably be pretty good friends. He's a good guy, he's very hard on himself, and that's attractive to me. I like guys who work like that, they go out and do their job and kind of don't take the praise for anything and they take all the blame. That's my kind of player. So I've developed kind of a relationship and a lot of respect for him in the last couple of weeks, and months. So it's definitely not the situation I wanted when I came here. (But) we're going to move on and I'm going to do what I can to help this team win some football games." -- QB David Carr, on the season-ending injury to Jake Delhomme.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Panthers released Quinton Porter from the practice squad on Monday and re-signed fullback Billy Latsko and tight end Marcus Freeman.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

LB Dan Morgan did not practice on Wednesday and is likely to miss his third straight game with a partially torn Achilles tendon. Look for the Panthers to re-evaluate Morgan after the bye week.

LB Jon Beason is likely to make his second start this week in place of Dan Morgan.

RB Nick Goings did not practice Wednesday due to a concussion. It was the third concussion of Goings' career.

CB Ken Lucas was held out of Wednesday's practice due to a shoulder injury. Lucas injured the shoulder against New Orleans but did return to that game.

LB Adam Seward remains out with a calf injury.

LB James Anderson practiced on a limited basis Wednesday.

QB David Carr did not practice Wednesday but hopes to play this week.

GAME PLAN

With troubles at quarterback -- David Carr is hurt and Jake Delhomme injured -- expect the Panthers to really focus on their running game. They are 22-2 when DeShaun Foster carries the ball more than 15 times in a game.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Panthers CBs Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble. Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin did a number on the Panthers in the last meeting, each going over 100 yards receiving in the first half. However, the Panthers somehow managed to win that game. It will be another challenge this week.

INJURY IMPACT

If Carr can't go this week, then Vinny Testaverde would likely get the start over Matt Moore.

Look for Beason to play at middle linebacker again with Morgan likely out.

Lucas should be fine for Sunday, but if not then look for Richard Marshall to get the start.


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