Panthers to focus on future against Bucs

With the Carolina Panthers out of the playoff hunt, coach John Fox will continue to work younger players into the lineup in Week 17 against Tampa Bay.

With the Carolina Panthers out of the playoff hunt, coach John Fox will continue to work younger players into the lineup in Week 17 against Tampa Bay.

The trend began two weeks ago when the team turned to Matt Moore as their quarterback.

But Moore was basically a move made out of necessity given the injury to veteran Vinny Testaverde.

But since then, there are several other younger players who have seen increased playing time.

Tight end Dante Rosario has taken a few reps away from veteran Christian Fauria.

Defensive end Charles Johnson was activated for the first time two weeks ago and actually started last week against Dallas due to the injury to Julius Peppers.

Ryne Robinson has seen a few more reps at wide receiver and is now working exclusively on punt and kick returns and improving in that area.

Safety Quinton Teal, an undrafted rookie, is playing well in a reserve role and has really stepped up on special teams.

Even rookie center Ryan Kalil saw action against Dallas, although he struggled.


--QB Matt Moore will make his third straight start this week against Tampa Bay in a meaningless game for both teams. Moore improved this past week even though the Panthers lost to the Cowboys.

--QB Vinny Testaverde will likely retire after this season.

--QB David Carr is widely expected to be released after the season. Those within the organization realize signing him was a mistake.

--RB DeShaun Foster might be a little concerned about his job security. He has two years left on his contract, but it appears DeAngelo Williams is beginning to take over as the team's running back. That's a move many have been wondering for awhile when it will happen.

--RB DeAngelo Williams carried 10 times for 60 yards against Dallas.

--WR Steve Smith had nine catches for 137 yards and his first touchdown since Week 6 this past week against Dallas. He's now the team's all-time leader in touchdowns with 45. Look for Smith to bounce back with a big season next year when Jake Delhomme returns.

--WR Keary Colbert is an unrestricted free agent and few expect that he will be back next season.

--WR Drew Carter is an unrestricted free agent and someone will sign him as a No. 3 receiver.

--KR/PR Ryne Robinson had his two longest returns of his rookie season last week against Dallas. He has improved immensely over the last month or two.

--TE Jeff King remains Carolina's starter, but look for him to have a challenge next year in camp from Dante Rosario, who has played well down the stretch and seems to have more speed than King.

--C Justin Hartwig injured his knee in Sunday's game and is not likely to play this week against Tampa Bay.

--DE Julius Peppers did not play Sunday because of a knee sprain. Look for him to sit out this week as well.

--LB Jon Beason has been Carolina's most consistent rookie.

--PK John Kasay has put together a fine season as far as field-goal attempts.

--P Jason Baker has really tailed off in the second half of the season. He needs some work on his game.

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