Moore, Martin Hopeful for Home Opener

Carolina Panthers coach John Fox said that quarterback Matt Moore feels "way better" today and wouldn't rule him out playing this week against Tampa Bay despite suffering a concussion Sunday against the Giants.

Fox said Matt Moore and wide receiver Charly Martin are "day-to-day as we approach the week."

That said, realistically it's hard to remember Fox in his nine years as Carolina's coach ever having someone who suffered a concussion play the next week. He's almost always been extra cautious when it comes to concussions.

"We've been careful around here for some time, but we'll evaluate him day-to-day and we'll see how that works," Fox said.

Fox said if Moore if healthy enough to play, he'll start, despite throwing three interceptions in the end zone. If Moore can't go, then rookie Jimmy Clausen will make his first NFL start.

When asked if he was disappointed in Moore's decision making in the red zone, Fox tried to deflect blame from his young quarterback, saying, "It's execution. We didn't execute well enough in the pass game. I thought there were opportunities but there's a lot of moving parts to the pass game and we've had some issues in a lot of different areas, whether it was protection, routes or where we went with the ball. We've got to do a better job of that. We have to do a better job coaching it and executing it."

Fox said he has confidence in Clausen, should he need to play.

"That would be my expectation at any position with any backup, whether it's John Kasay kicking off or Sherrod Martin replacing Charly Martin in some areas (on special teams)," Fox said. "I think guys have to step up and make plays. He's part of the football team. Whether it's injury or whatever we expect him to step in do a good job if that's the case."

Fox said he doesn't think he'd have to simplify the playbook for Clausen.

"I don't think so," Fox said. "Our offense is what it is and I don't think it would be like Vinny (Testaverde) coming in on a Thursday before a Sunday game (like 2007). We've seen everything as far as that goes. He's been with us and he understands what we're doing and I don't think we'd have to do that."


WR Brandon LaFell
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--Nobody played better defense in the preseason than the Carolina Panthers. But then, as we all know, the preseason means nothing.

The Panthers allowed the New York Giants to roll up 376 yards on offense and score four touchdowns Sunday, numbers that didn't sit too well with LB Jon Beason, the team's defensive leader.

"It's not Panther football," Beason said after Carolina's 31-18 defeat. "We are trying to establish a new level of excellence here and a level of play that's consistent. We didn't play 60 minutes of football. The second and third quarters were unacceptable. The good thing about it is we had some big plays and we had four turnovers. We have some things that we can build on."

--Free safety Charles Godfrey had two interceptions for the Panthers off tipped balls and strong side linebacker James Anderson added a third.

"We didn't play too well," Godfrey said. "We didn't play our type of defense. We had some little miscues on defense assignment-wise. Not paying attention to details cost us a couple of touchdowns and that's not us. That's not what we do. We have to go back and correct those.

"We played our game in the preseason. But that didn't roll over to the regular season. But we'll get back to that defense and we'll be all right."

--After posting 20 sacks in the preseason, the Panthers only managed one on Sunday and got none from their defensive ends. The lone sack came from MLB Dan Connor on a blitz.

"It was different out there today," said defensive end Everette Brown. "They did a good job of mixing things up offensively. We just have to get pressure on the quarterback and get him down. Eli (Manning) was too comfortable out there and he was allowed to make checks and look off receivers. That's something that's not good for this defense. It starts up front, run or pass."

--Normally reliable long snapper J.J. Jansen had the ball slip out of his hands on a punt snap and the Giants recovered during the third quarter in what was a key turning point in the game.

It was raining for most of the game, so the ball and the field were a little slick.

The ball came oddly bouncing between Jansen's legs and didn't even make it back to punter Jason Baker, who had to scramble to get in on the tackle. Jansen was charged with a fumble.

"It got stuck in the turf, but you can't allow that to happen," coach John Fox said.

--WR Steve Smith, who finished with five receptions for 75 yards and scored Carolina's lone touchdown, said he was relieved to get through the first game of the season. Smith broke his arm against the Giants last December after being hit in the end zone following a touchdown reception.

"I ran some good routes, some shaky routes and ran some impatient routes, but overall I came out OK and the arm feels good," Smith said. "All the screws are connected, so it's good."

When asked if his 19-yard touchdown came on a similar route to the one he broke his arm on against the Giants last year, Smith smiled and said, "I can neither confirm nor deny. I'm just happy I got up."


--QB Jimmy Clausen could get his first NFL start against Tampa Bay if Matt Moore can't play because of a concussion. However, coach John Fox wouldn't rule out Moore playing this Sunday.

--WR Charly Martin is feeling "way better" according to coach John Fox and will be day-to-day this week.

--WR Brandon LaFell called his first NFL start a "horrible" one and said he needs to dramatically improve this week.

--RB Jonathan Stewart was held to 12 yards rushing after putting up 206 yards on the ground in Week 16 against the Giants last year. Different year, different defense.

--PK Todd Carter suffered from back spasms on Sunday and had to leave the game early. He's feeling much better, coach John Fox said.


RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- A year ago, RB Jonathan Stewart ran for a franchise-record 206 yards against the Giants, but on Sunday he was held to 12 yards on five carries. As a team, the Panthers were limited to 89 yards on 24 yards (3.7-yard average) and had only 6 yards on six carries in the second half as they abandoned the run after falling behind. RB DeAngelo Williams led the way for the Panthers with 62 yards on 16 carries.

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- QB Matt Moore completed just 14 of 33 passes for 182 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions (all of those coming in the end zone) for a passer rating or 32.6. The Panthers reached inside the Giants' 25-yard line six times and came away with just 13 points. WR Steve Smith was solid, but the other receivers struggled. Carolina's offensive line allowed four sacks, one of which resulted in a concussion for Moore.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-plus -- The Panthers did a great job of holding the Giants' running game in check in the first half, limiting them to 8 yards on 13 carries. But eventually New York wore Carolina down. RB Ahmad Bradshaw had 76 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown and the Giants finished with 118 yards and a touchdown. Still, New York only averaged 3.3 yards per carry and the Panthers did recover a Bradshaw fumble.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Carolina couldn't get much pressure on QB Eli Manning, and he torched the secondary, completing 20 of 30 passes for 263 yards with three touchdowns going to WR Hakeem Nicks. WR Mario Manningham had some big third-down receptions. Yes, the Panthers picked Manning off three times, but those came on tipped balls that should have been caught by their receivers.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-minus -- For the most part, this was pretty good. Mike Goodson had a 45-yard return to set up Carolina's only touchdown and Captain Munnerlyn returned a punt 28 yards to set up another score. PK John Kasay hit on all three of his field goal attempts, including from 52 yards out, and DE Greg Hardy blocked a punt that resulted in a safety. Carolina's coverage teams were also pretty good. However, LS J.J. Jansen's botched snap proved to be a turning point in the game and the Panthers also had a costly holding penalty on a return.

COACHING: C -- Tough to understand the play-calling when the Panthers went to the air three times inside the 5-yard line while trailing by 15. That was a good time to bang it on the ground, but instead Moore threw an interception. It's going to take awhile for WR Brandon LaFell to develop, and the Panthers are going to take their lumps in the passing game until then.

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