Clausen's stock in Carolina is clearly on the rise as he's performed well in practices since being selected this past April in the second round. He's still behind starter Matt Moore on the depth chart and it's looking like he'll have a battle on his hands with the ever-improving Hunter Cantwell for No. 2 spot on the quarterback depth chart.
But make no doubt about it, Clausen will be right there in the mix.
He's making all the throws.
He's making good decisions.
And, to no one's surprise, he's catching on to the playbook pretty fast.
Clausen used a similar playbook at Notre Dame. His former college coach Charlie Weis worked closely with current Panthers offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson while both were winning Super Bowls in New England. And that's made his transition from college to the NFL that much easier.
"I think so," Clausen said. "It's pretty much similar terms, but a few different reads and plays. But at the same token, it's pretty much the same exact stuff."
The big difference, he's finding, is the protections vary a bit more at this level.
For instance, Clausen said a play at Notre Dame might look something like this: Guns trips right, 64 scan, Z option, X comeback. In Carolina, the play is: Gun 2 jet, 54 scan, Z option, X comeback.
"It just changes the protection, but at the same time it's still the same play," Clausen said.
It's those little details Clausen is working to perfect so that they become like second nature.
"I'm trying to pick it up as fast as I can just to be able to play faster while I'm out there," he said.
Clausen believes that having knowledge of the playbook has given him a leg up on other rookies in the NFL.
"Definitely," he said. "It's like learning Spanish. It's a whole different language. Just being in the same system... it's helped me a lot."
Still, Clausen said, there are things to improve upon.
Most notably, he said, getting used to the tempo of the game.
That includes the tempo of his drop-back, the speed of the pass rush and the speed of the receivers. Everything, he said, is faster than most folks realize.
"It's a step up from college and I just have to get used to that," Clausen said.
But Clausen, who is confident by nature, believes he'll be just fine.
So do his teammates.
"He's still young and still has a lot to go, but he looks good back there in the pocket," said Panthers veteran cornerback Chris Gamble. "He gets the ball out there quickly. He looks you off, little things like that. I haven't seen him throw an interception. He's been throwing the ball well and getting it to the receiver."
Clausen knows he might have to be patient to realize his goals, but in the meantime he plans to keep learning and improving.
"This is what I was born to do -- play the game of football," Clausen said. "God has given me a special talent and I'm just trying to come out every day and get better at all of the little things. All of the big things will come into play later, but each time you come out to practice you have to work on specific things to make the team better and make your game better as well."
LB Jon Beason
James Anderson continued to run with the starters on the strong side.
"That's how we're looking at it," Beason said. "I'm getting some reps at the WILL (weak-side linebacker) position because we have the opportunity right now. You really just want to determine the best three guys right now. The only way to do that is to move guys around and see what that equation is."
Although Beason said he doesn't view the move as permanent yet, he knows it is an option.
Beason has gone to the Pro Bowl the past two seasons playing in the middle. However, he worked at weak-side linebacker for three seasons at the University of Miami and it's the position he was drafted to play here back when the Panthers still had Dan Morgan in the middle.
"I don't think it will be hard transition," Beason said if the move becomes a necessity. "It might be easier than the Mike (middle linebacker) because it's something I've done... My number one goal is to win. If that's something the coaches want me to do then I will do it to the best of my ability."
Panthers coach John Fox said he's not settled on how best to adjust to Davis' long-term absence.
"There are a lot of options," Fox said. "At this point, I'm not going to get into all of what they are. It's similar to what we went through and adjustments we had to make a year ago. That's part of this game."
--Carolina's John Fox will join three other NFL head coaches on a USO coaches tour in the Persian Gulf in the coming weeks. Fox's father served in the Navy Seals.
Philadelphia's Andy Reid, Minnesota's Brad Childress and Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis are also going to attend.
The coaches will visit with U.S. military personnel and an undisclosed site (for security reasons) for several days and get a close-up look at what's happening in the Middle East.
This is the second straight summer that coaches have taken time out to visit with military folks representing the U.S. in the Middle East. Last year Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Baltimore's John Harbaugh, and the Giants' Tom Coughlin joined inactive coaches Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher overseas.
"It's something I've wanted to do for years and was finally able to work it into the schedule," Fox said. "I'm going with three great guys that I know and have admiration for. I can't think of a better to spend a week, although it's very little, to show our appreciation for what those troops are doing over there to protect us."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought our work was excellent. The guys worked hard in the offseason conditioning program and we had great participation in the minicamp as well as the OTAs. These guys are willing to work." -- Coach John Fox on wrapping up OTAs.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Wide receiver David Gettis and cornerback R.J. Stanford, have signed contracts.
Gettis was drafted in the sixth round (198th overall) from Baylor, while Stanford was selected in the seventh round (249 overall) out of Utah. Gettis and Stanford are the first of the Panthers 10 draft picks to sign contracts.
Defensive end Greg Hardy, another sixth-round pick, and cornerback Robert McClain, a seventh-round pick, are also close to signing their deals.