Inside slant: Carolina Panther Week 8 preview

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 preparations for Sunday's game with Indianapolis, including key matchups and injury reports.

David Carr made his feelings known about the Indianapolis Colts this week.

"They know I don't like them," said Carr, who was 1-9 against the Colts while playing for the Houston Texans. "The Colts know that. We've had our issues in the past. We've seen each other enough. It's going to be fun, man. I just got to get my back right and get this thing healthy so I can get a chance to go out there."

If Carr's back is healthy then he will play Sunday, according to Carolina Panthers coach John Fox. However, Fox wouldn't go as far as to tell reporters that Carr would start on Sunday over 21-year veteran Vinny Testaverde.

"There's a difference," Fox said.

That would suggest Fox is contemplating a platoon role for his quarterbacks, but that's a little hard to believe since he's never done anything like that during his six seasons coaching the Panthers.

"If I feel healthy, I would hope (to start)," Carr said. "And I think Vinny probably feels the same way. But both of us, honestly, we feel like we give the team a good chance to win the football game. There are worse problems in the world."

Like facing an underappreciated Colts defense, which ranks third in the league -- just like the highly publicized offense. Since the return of safety Bob Sanders in the AFC playoffs last year, the Colts have been spectacular against the run and the pass.

"You've got to be efficient against them," Carr said. "I'm talking about the backs. I'm talking about everybody. They all have got to be in their spots because (the Colts) will be in their spots. Indy's going to be where they're supposed to be. They're going to be coached well. Tony Dungy is probably one of the greatest coaches I've ever been around. I have a lot of respect for him.

"I've got a lot of respect for what they do on defense. Their speed, they're probably the fastest team in the NFL. They fly to the ball. They do a good job on everything and you've got to be the same way. You've got to be on your game. You can do it. You'll be all right. You can make plays. You just can't make the stupid plays."

Carr participated in all of Wednesday's practice and said his sore back held up pretty good.

Afterward, as he walked into the locker room to meet with reporters, he joked that he'd just come from getting his 72nd massage in the last three weeks.

"I didn't feel great out there, but I felt better than I did last week," Carr said. "I couldn't run last week. I was moving around. I didn't feel I was limited. I was a little tight, maybe a little rusty. But I felt good. It felt good just to be out there, honestly. I was just happy to be moving around like I was moving.

"I didn't think it was going to be that good, but it definitely feels better."

Said Fox of Carr: "He was able to take snaps, get reps and throw the ball. So he looked good today."

There's a good portion of Carolina fans who are Testaverde fans and believe Fox should stick with the 43-year old veteran after he led the Panthers to a 25-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 14.

"If you ask any guy in this locker room and they will tell you they want to be on the field and I'm included in that," Testaverde said. "But the only way I know to be successful is if everyone is on the same page and working in the same direction.

"Whether David starts or I start and other guy is unhappy about it and makes it known to the players and coaches and everybody out there, it only hurts the team. And I'm not about hurting the team. I'm here to help the team. Whatever that role is I'm going to accept it and move forward with it. That's how I view it. We don't have to be happy with the situation we're in, but we have to make sure we're working in a positive way to help the team be successful."

SERIES HISTORY: 4th meeting. Panthers lead the series 3-0, but they've never played the World Champions at Bank of America Stadium. They did beat Indianapolis in 1995 in a game played at Clemson while their stadium in Charlotte was being built. Carolina has only played the Colts once this decade but that was a memorable game as the Panthers emerged victorious in a battle of unbeatens. On Oct. 12, 2003, the Panthers received a big second half from RB DeShaun Foster and defeated the Colts 23-20 in overtime on a John Kasay field goal.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Quarterback is not the only offensive position that's becoming an area of concern for the Carolina Panthers.

Now their running back position is looking a little thin, too.

Despite having 10 days to rest, starting running back DeShaun Foster was held out of practice Wednesday due to a toe injury and, later in the evening, the team announced they've placed reliable third-string back Nick Goings on injured reserve.

Goings sustained his third career concussion against Tampa Bay and was inactive against New Orleans and Arizona. He returned nine kickoffs for a 19.3-yard average and had three special team tackles.

Foster's injury raises the possibility that second-year back DeAngelo Williams could start Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

This is the first time Panthers coach John Fox has mentioned the injury to reporters since, under NFL rules, he didn't have to submit an injury report to the league last week because of the team's bye.

--Williams is coming off a career-high 121-yard performance against the Arizona Cardinals a week ago Sunday. In that game, Williams busted loose on a 75-yard run in the fourth quarter and put the game away a few plays later on 13-yard touchdown run, his first of the season.

Foster leads the team with 404 yards on 97 carries, a 4.2-yard average, and is on pace for his first 1,000-yard season. Williams has 289 yards on 53 carries, a 5.5-yard average.

With Foster and Goings out, the Panthers have only three healthy backs -- Williams, Alex Haynes and fullback Brad Hoover.

--Some might remember that the last time the Panthers faced the unbeaten Colts, it was Week 6 of the 2003 season.

That week, the Panthers walked into the RCA Dome and stunned the Colts 23-20 in overtime on a John Kasay field goal.

Defensive end Mike Rucker is one of eight players that remain from Carolina's Super Bowl team that season, but said there isn't much you can take from that win.

"You can peek at it," Rucker said. "Some guys are still here, but we've got a lot of new guys. You can look at it and see how they attacked you, what they did well against you. You can probably bet they'll see if they can try you again, see if you corrected it."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't say he's keeping me up at night, but I'm dreaming big, I'm always trying to envision things that have happened before, so hopefully they come to life." -- Carolina rookie LB Jon Beason, on facing Colts QB Peyton Manning this Sunday.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Panthers added some depth at linebacker and filled the void left by special teams captain Nick Goings on Wednesday by signing seven-year veteran linebacker Donte Curry.

Curry played five seasons with the Detroit Lions after beginning his career with Washington in 2001. He was released before the regular season by Detroit, but re-signed for two games before being released Oct. 16.

He's played in 78 games during his NFL career, starting 12.

The Panthers were holding out hope that middle linebackers Dan Morgan (Achilles) and Adam Seward (calf) might return to the practice this week and give the defense a little boost, but neither practiced Wednesday.

Morgan has missed the last three games after partially tearing his Achilles in Carolina's 27-20 win over Atlanta on Sept. 23. Rookie Jon Beason, who has started the last two games at middle linebacker for the Panthers, said he expects to remain in the middle this week.

"Everything is the same as it was prior to the bye," Beason said.

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--RB DeShaun Foster did not practice Wednesday (toe) despite having 10 days off. Makes you wonder if he will be ready for Sunday's game against the Colts.

--RB DeAngelo Williams could start this week if Foster can't go. Williams is coming off a career-high 121-yard performance against the Arizona Cardinals.

--LB Dan Morgan (Achilles) remains out of practice.

--LB Donte Curry was added for depth at linebacker and special teams help.

--QB David Carr practiced on Wednesday. He said he expects to play Sunday if his back holds up.

GAME PLAN: It's pretty simple -- the Panthers have to keep Peyton Manning off the field and to do that they must run the football. Carolina can only hope the Colts are a little fatigued from having to play Monday night at Jacksonville and then turn around and travel to Charlotte to play Sunday. The question will be if the Panthers stay close enough to establish a running game. If they have to resort to their passing game, it could be a long day.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Colts DE Dwight Freeney vs. Panthers LT Travelle Wharton. Freeney has been dominant and will pose huge problems for Wharton. Wharton has struggled in the past against John Abraham, whose style is not unlike Freeney's. The Panthers are already down a quarterback, so Wharton cannot afford to make any mistakes.

INJURY IMPACT: Foster (toe), Morgan (Achilles) and middle linebacker Adam Seward (calf) did not practice. The team placed running back Nick Goings (concussion) on injured reserve.


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