CHARLOTTE – Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen was diagnosed with a concussion following Sunday's loss at Tampa Bay, and his status for this Sunday's home game against the Baltimore Ravens is uncertain.
"It was something that came on as the postgame wore on," head coach John Fox said after announcing the injury at his weekly Monday press conference. "We've not ruled him out by any stretch. He'll be day-to-day.
"I haven't really visited with Jimmy to this point in the day, but it will be in our medical people's hands. We'll see how it goes."
If Clausen can't play, fellow rookie Tony Pike would be next in line. Rookie wide receiver Armanti Edwards was listed as the third quarterback Sunday, and the Panthers added journeyman Brian St. Pierre to the practice squad last week.
"I talked to Jimmy a little bit after the game about the game, and he just said that he had a little headache," said Pike, who caught up with Clausen again Monday during position meetings. "He said he was trying to watch a little tape last night, and the headache got a little worse.
"We haven't really talked about it much. With the rest of the day off and the off-day tomorrow, we'll see what happens Wednesday morning."
Fox couldn't pinpoint when Clausen suffered the concussion, but given that the symptoms didn't surface until after the game, it might well have happened on Carolina's final offensive snap of the game.
In the waning seconds of the 31-16 loss, Clausen tried back-to-back quarterback sneaks from inside the 1-yard line. After Clausen was stood up short of the goal line on the second one, Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib sprinted in from the perimeter and slammed into Clausen.
"It could have been any number of plays, but there's a chance it could have happened on the last play," Fox said when asked about when Clausen was concussed. "It's hard to say."
Clausen made some strides forward in his return to the starting lineup, connecting on 16 of 29 passes for 191 yards. Five different receivers caught passes from Clausen that covered 12 or more yards.
Clausen last started on Oct. 10 against Chicago, with Matt Moore retaking the reins for three games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last week against New Orleans.
"For a young player, there's nothing like live reps, but there's also an advantage to watching and learning," Fox said. "He looked comfortable, and I thought he was well-prepared. All in all, I thought he showed marked improvement."
PIKE PREPARING: Pike obviously doesn't yet know if he'll get his first NFL start Sunday, but he'll prepare this week as if he will – just like he did a week ago.
"Like I said last week, you've always got to be ready and prepare like you're the guy," said Pike, who made his pro debut in place of Clausen in the fourth quarter of the Nov. 7 loss to New Orleans. "I'm going to go out there and do the same thing I've been doing, and whatever Jimmy's status is, we'll go with that."
Pike said he got more reps in practice last week with Moore out of action, and he could get still more reps this week – something that's always valuable for a rookie.
"It just all goes into feeling more comfortable and translating what's in the meeting rooms to the live action," Pike said. "I feel like I've done a good job leading up to this point. I'm just waiting to see what happens."
OTHER INJURIES: In addition to Clausen's concussion, wide receiver Brandon LaFell left Sunday's game after suffering a concussion, and left guard Travelle Wharton left with turf toe. Neither returned.
Wharton was in the locker room Monday, walking around with a device that stimulates the injured area with a small electric shock. He said the injury occurred in the second quarter when a defensive player rolled into the back of his leg and his planted toe bent awkwardly.
"It's one of those things where you've just got to see how it progresses in the next day or two," Wharton said. "This is my first time ever with it. It's painful."
The status of Wharton and LaFell won't be known until later in the week, much like the players who missed Sunday's game because of injuries: running backs DeAngelo Williams (foot), Jonathan Stewart (concussion) and Tyrell Sutton (ankle) and defensive end Greg Hardy (concussion).
VAUGHAN'S BIG BREAK: Six days after sitting in meetings as a newly signed member of the Buffalo Bills practice squad, running back Josh Vaughan was celebrating his first NFL touchdown as a member of the Panthers.
The rash of injuries at running back prompted Carolina to reacquire Vaughan, previously a member of the Panthers' practice squad, and he accounted for the team's lone touchdown with a 2-yard run Sunday.
"You never know what's going to happen in life," Vaughan said. "I just let God lead me through whatever I do and just follow him and things end up paying off.
"There definitely have been times in the past when I just wanted to give it up, but I think this is what I've been called to do."
Since his college career at the University of Richmond ended following the 2008 season, Vaughan has spent time with five NFL organizations but had never been on the active roster. His first team was Tampa Bay, which signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent in May of 2009 but waived him during training camp.