Insider News & Notes

Weinke benched, Peete to start, and defensive end Mike Rucker signs an extension.

CHARLOTTE, N.C - The Carolina Panthers still think that quarterback Chris Weinke is still their quarterback of the future, but they have benched him and will 14-year veteran Rodney Peete on Sunday.

Head Coach John Fox thinks that Peete will give the Panthers a better chance to win and Weinke has yet to grasp the offense. "By no means am I happy about this, the timing of it is tough, any competitor wouldn't be happy about it. My goal is to work hard, to go out there every day and prove that I'm capable of this," Weinke said. "In my opinion, my days as a starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers are not done."

Last season Weinke started 15 games, passing for 2,931 yards with 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He missed almost all of the spring and early summer workouts with a shoulder injury and didn't get a chance to learn the new offensive system until training camp. So the Panthers will start Rodney Peete on Sunday who has not attempted a pass in two seasons or started a game since 1998.

Like Weinke, Peete hasn't shown much in the pre-season but Fox thinks that since Peete has been in this system before, he will give them the best chance to win on Sunday. "I think right now at this point with Chris only having five weeks in the offense and Rodney having a past in it, I think this decision is purely to give us the best chance of winning Sunday," Fox said.

Panthers extended defensive end Mike Rucker's contract.

The Panthers decided to extend defensive end Mike Rucker's contract and signed him to a five-year, $24.5 million extension that included $5.5 million in signing bonuses.

Rucker, the 6-foot-5, 258-pound second round draft choice in 1999 out of Nebraska last season, did a nice job on the team with nine sacks and he was being though of as one of the better young defense ends in the NFL. Since the Panthers have signed him to contact extension, along with Julius Peppers, on the other side the Panthers think they have a pair of "bookend" defensive ends for the future to build their defense on.

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