Rookie Report: Jimmy Clausen

Jimmy Clausen is no stranger to high expectations and starting early. His first start at Notre Dame was the second game of his freshman year. Three years, 8,000 passing yards and 60 touchdowns later, Clausen entered the draft and the Panthers snagged him with the No. 48 overall pick.

On Sunday, Jimmy Clausen got the starting nod after playing the reserve role for only two games. Like most other rookie quarterbacks to start an NFL game, it was a rude awakening.

Clausen had trouble handling snaps in training camp and it followed him into the regular season. After a Captain Munnerlyn interception on the Bengals' first drive and a 26-yard run by DeAngelo Williams, the Panthers were threatening to score at Cincainnati's 25-yard line. However, Clausen fumbled the snap from Ryan Kalil on first-and-10 and Cincinnati recovered.

Later in the first quarter, the Panthers had another chance to capitalize on an interception, as Charles Godfrey picked off Carson Palmer and set up Carolina at the Bengals' 21-yard line. But Clausen turned the ball over again as he forced an ill-advised pass to Steve Smith and was intercepted.

QB Jimmy Clausen
Streeter Lecka/Getty
His timing was off during an exchange with Mike Goodson at the end of the half, as well, but both Goodson and Clausen should take the blame for the miscue. Clausen also mishandled another snap in Carolina territory that was recovered by Travelle Wharton.

The second half started better for Clausen, as he led a drive that ended in a touchdown run by Jonathan Stewart. Midway through the fourth quarter, he looked to be gaining some momentum following two straight completions, including one to Smith. The Panthers were within striking distance, down by only six, but a Stewart fumble ended the drive, and the Panthers ran out of gas.

Clausen was hit, sacked and hurried throughout the game. Twice he had to resort to using his legs to pick up yardage, but never gained much. He did make some good decisions throughout the game -- his connections with Goodson and David Gettis were impressive and his 44-yard completion to Brandon LaFell was his highlight of the day.

He was abused by the defense, but Clausen never lost his composure and looked calm and collected when making decisions. There is still a lot of growing, learning and maturation in Clausen's future; his first start was average but promising to a franchise looking for a rescuer and a leader under center.

So far, Clausen has shown he gives the Panthers just as good of a chance to win as Matt Moore does, so he should be the starter as long as he keeps improving.

Other Rookie Notes

David Gettis and Brandon LaFell both put up decent numbers as Gettis had three catches for 32 yards and LaFell received a 44-yard bomb from Clausen. Fans are buzzing about these rookie connections that could turn into much more in the future.

Jordan Pugh committed a costly pass interference penalty in the end zone after the Panthers stopped Cincinnati on a third-and-6 from the Panthers' 11-yard line. The penalty moved the Bengals to the 1-yard line and led to the first TD of the game.

Greg Hardy was the only other rookie to make the stat sheet with one assisted tackle.

Alex Montgomery is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a degree in Professional Writing. He has worked for the Western Carolinian and his hometown newspaper, the Kernersville News. He currently resides in Charlotte, NC. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.

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