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Clausen, Otah getting better


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Panthers rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen can't wait to make his NFL debut on Thursday, so much so that on Tuesday he referred to the game as being "tomorrow."

While Clausen clearly wants it to hurry up and get here, he's thankful that things have slowed down otherwise two weeks into camp.

"Things are going well. I think the biggest thing for me right now is that everything is starting to slow down for me a little bit," Clausen said. "When we first got to camp, it was kind of the same as OTAs, trying to go out there and play as fast as I can -- but I was still trying to get used to the speed of the game and making all the right calls.

"But now it's slowed down a lot for me. Yesterday, I really felt it. Now it's just like playing football."

Clausen and the rest of the Panthers will play football Thursday night, when they visit the Baltimore Ravens in both teams' preseason opener (8 p.m., ESPN).

Clausen's transition continues to be aided by the similarities between the Panthers' pro-style offense and the offense he led at Notre Dame.

"There are some different intricacies with the offense from Notre Dame to here, but it's pretty similar," he said. "I'd say it's about 85, 80 percent similar, but at the same time there are different reads and different calls you've got to make.

"Those little things, I'm still getting used to. At Notre Dame, I played three years there, so it's hard to break those old habits, but I'm getting there."

Clausen, who has been splitting second-team reps with Hunter Cantwell in recent practices, said he hasn't been told when he'll enter Thursday's game, but he'll be ready whenever his number is called.

"It's going to be my first time live since college, so it's going to be fun out there," he said. "I'm just going to have a lot of fun and make plays.

"It's going to be great."


OTAH ON THE MEND: When Panthers' right tackle Jeff Otah arrived at camp, he thought he'd be back in action by now.

That was before he had his left knee scoped on Aug. 4 -- the same knee that sidelined him for the final three games of the 2009 season.

Otah said Tuesday that he tweaked the knee during preparations for camp.

"It kept on swelling, so the doctors decided to go in there and clean some things up," Otah said. "The swelling is gone, and it's starting to feel stronger.

"I'm getting somewhere."

As head coach John Fox stated when he announced the surgery last week, Otah said his goal is to be back in time for the Panthers' regular season opener at the New York Giants on Sept. 12.

"I'm looking forward to trying to get out there for the first game, getting out there and performing," he said. "Since I got the scope to my knee, I'm seeing improvement every day. It feels good."

PRACTICE CONTINUES: The Panthers will practice Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., a final walk-through before they head to Baltimore for Thursday's game.

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