Talent Transfusion

The Carolina Panthers were in need of offensive weapons, and they found two on Sunday. In his first NFL game, wide receiver Drew Carter caught a big 40-yard pass from Jake Delhomme, and running back Nick Goings re-emerged as a weapon with 88 total yards from scrimmage to help the Carolina Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints 27-10 and recapture sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Carter stepped in for Rod Gardner, who was released last week, and played mostly on four-receiver sets.

Carter, a fifth-round draft pick in 2004 out of Ohio State, missed all of last season with a torn ACL and has been inactive for Carolina's first 13 games, despite having caught 11 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason.

His shot finally came Sunday as offensive coordinator Dan Henning varied from his traditional game plan and used more four-receiver sets.

"I went in there hoping I would get dressed and get in the game," Carter said. "All year long I was thinking, maybe this week, maybe this week, maybe this week. I just tried to hang in there and practice hard."

Panthers safety Mike Minter said it was inevitable Carter would get on the field.

"He has been killing us in practice, and that is why coach (John) Fox had to put him up," Minter said. "He has been making plays on our defense and really looking good. I told him today before the game, 'Drew, it's just like practice. Don't put any more pressure on yourself.' He took advantage of his opportunities. It's a good thing to see young guys step up and make the most of their chance."

Carter dropped a tough pass down the field that would have been good for a 30-yard gain, but he quickly made up for it with an 8-yard reception on third-and-7 on the same drive. In all, the Panthers threw deep to Carter three times on Sunday.

He finished with two catches for 48 yards, but offered plenty of promise for the future.

"He is a guy with a lot of speed," Delhomme said. "We need to get him the ball. He's a big tall target who can run. When you go four wides it's kind of nice. You have Smitty, him and Keary (Colbert) and Ricky (Proehl). That's nice."

Carter hopes he showed enough on Sunday to convince Henning to make four-receiver sets a bigger part of the game plan on a weekly basis.

"Hopefully we keep doing it," Carter said. "I hope the coaches have confidence that we can do four wides. We work hard as receivers, and we know we can plays. I think we showed that today."

Goings replaced Stephen Davis as Carolina's backup running back.

Davis was placed on injured reserve on Saturday because of swelling and soreness in his knee.

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