CHARLOTTE - During the extended break between games created by the bye week in 2010, Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen learned he was being replaced in the starting lineup.
This season, the bye week will bring no such changes, meaning Clausen will remain on the sideline.
Clausen eventually got back in the starting lineup last season and started 10 games as a rookie, but this season he's relegated to watching as rookie Cam Newton has taken the NFL by storm.
"Cam is playing really well right now and putting the team in position to win every game, so I'm just trying to help him as much as I can," Clausen said. "It's hard. I want to play, but it's not my time right now.
"What I'm here to do right now is to learn and watch. I'm learning from D.A. (Derek Anderson) and learning from things Cam is doing, and I'm trying to help the team."
Clausen's rookie season was a trial by fire, and he often got burned. The second-round pick out of Notre Dame replaced Matt Moore as starter in Week 3 as Carolina looked for a spark. He started the next three weeks but couldn't get the offense going, and the Panthers went back to Moore before a shoulder injury ended his season three weeks later and Clausen returned to the starting lineup.
Clausen went 1-9 as a starter in a season when the Panthers finished 2-14, throwing three touchdowns and nine interceptions for the NFL's least productive offense.
At the midway point this season, Newton ranks second in the NFL in passing yards and has 18 touchdowns (11 pass, seven rush) with nine interceptions to help Carolina rank fifth in total offense.
"It was a rough year last year," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "The thing Jimmy has done is handle it very professionally. He's been the young quarterback that you would expect in terms of just waiting for his opportunities and staying focused. He's been very supportive. He and Cam have a tremendous relationship.
"It's very difficult for Jimmy because he's a competitor, but at the same time he understands the circumstances and the situation. He knows his time will come. This may be a good chance for him to have a reset, to take a step back and look at things and reevaluate, then develop himself."
That's exactly what Clausen is trying to do. He's been inactive for all eight games this season, with the seven-year veteran Anderson serving as Newton's backup but still waiting for his first snap of the season as well.
In practice, Clausen and Anderson have shared reps with the scout team.
"I'm not out there dressed for games, but that's the time where I get to be another set of eyes on the sideline and to do everything I can to gain knowledge," Clausen said. "Everyone on the team has a role, and I'm just trying to do my role the best that I can. I'm helping the defense on scout team and helping Cam by watching film and things like that."
Clausen is also getting advice from friends and family as well as teammates – advice that he's heeding.
"The biggest thing former coaches and teammates are telling me is to just take this time to learn and get better in practice," he said. "It would be easy to go out each day and hang your head and just go through the motions, but you need to literally go out there and work on your craft, work on your game.
"I have to learn as much as I can during this time because I could get thrown in there and have to perform."