SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Four years ago, quarterback
Anderson and Chudzinski have now been reunited in Carolina, but Anderson's first assignment is to help the careers of the Panthers' inexperienced quarterbacks after the free agent signed with the team Monday night.
"I'm obviously excited about being here and being back with Chud and the opportunity to help out with Cam (Newton) and Jimmy (Clausen)," Anderson said. "I want to grow myself too, but I'm going help them with things in this offense that I've learned in the past and pass that information along."
Anderson, a six-year NFL veteran, plans to compete for snaps with Clausen and Newton, who have one year of NFL experience between them. But Anderson, who struggled the past three seasons following his breakout year in Cleveland, understands he must also help his fellow Carolina quarterbacks with pre-snap reads and the like.
"I don't think anybody knows the answer to what's going to go on in the next four or five weeks, but I go into every training camp like I'm going to play. I think that's what has kept me going, even if it's not realistic," Anderson said. "Coming out to practice today was good, just reading plays that were familiar to me and talking football with Cam and Jimmy. I've been through a lot of struggles and through a lot of good times, and that can all help."
Anderson played for the Arizona Cardinals last year but said he knew he'd be released in the offseason because of his own poor play and that of the team. In 23 starts over the last three seasons, he's thrown 29 interceptions after throwing for 29 touchdowns and 3,787 yards in 2007 to make the Pro Bowl.
"Derek has a good arm, and he's a really good anticipator," Chudzinski said. "He worked hard at it, and understood the offense, and he just got better and better with it and then just got on a roll.
"He's a guy who has some experience and background in the system. He's familiar enough with things to be able to help the younger guys and be able to step right in."
Anderson credited Chudzinski for an offensive approach that enabled him to become a Pro Bowler with the Browns. That's good news for the future of the Panthers, no matter who is under center when the regular season kicks off Sept. 11 at Arizona.
"I'm definitely excited to here, in Chud's offense. He's kind of a mad scientist," Anderson said. "He made it so I could play freely, and when I played my best was when I understood the concepts. It's hard and he wants it to be perfect, but I think that's what makes him a good coach."
Anderson, 28, starred at Oregon State, ranking second in Pac-10 history with 79 touchdown passes before the Baltimore Ravens selected him in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. The Ravens cut him early that season, and he started three games in Cleveland over his first two years before exploding in 2007 – only to stumble.
"I'm not satisfied with the way I've played the last three years. I know I've still got a lot left. I've got a lot of excitement left in me," Anderson said. "Everybody wants to play, but coming in I'm just getting my feet wet and getting to know guys and getting comfortable. I'll be ready when they need me."