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Clausen signs on dotted line


SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- The Panthers could hardly believe their good fortune when Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen fell to them in the second round of the NFL draft.

Wednesday, the Panthers were celebrating again, when Clausen signed with the team just in time to assure that he'll take part in training camp.

With the signing of Clausen, the Panthers will have perfect attendance when they take the field for their first practice Thursday morning at 9 at Wofford. Clausen was the final of Carolina's 10 draft picks to sign, not surprising given that he was the team's highest selection, at 48th overall.

"It's definitely helpful to have everybody in camp to start practice," head coach John Fox said. "Your draft picks, with every day they miss, it takes a week to catch up.

"It's always important to have your draft picks signed. We've done pretty well with that over the years."

Clausen is expected to battle second-year quarterback Hunter Cantwell and fellow rookie Tony Pike for the role of backup to Matt Moore.

Labeled by many observers as a likely first-round selection entering the draft, Clausen left Notre Dame following his junior season standing first or second in the storied program's record book in 32 passing categories. He ranked No. 1 in school history with a 62.6 completion percentage and tied for No. 1 with a 2.43 interception percentage.

Over his college career, Clausen connected on 695 of 1,110 passes for 8,148 yards, with 60 touchdowns against 27 interceptions.

"We think he's an excellent quarterback," general manager Marty Hurney said. "He's an extremely competitive player and has played at a high level against the top teams. I think he's shown a real knack for being able to bring his team back late in games and plays very well in close games -- all those things you look for from a quarterback that aren't physical."

Clausen has lots to learn at training camp but certainly has a strong base to start: He played in essentially the same offensive system in college that the Panthers employ. His coach at Notre Dame, Charlie Weis, was offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots when Panthers offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson coached tight ends for the Pats.

Still, it's good to have him out for the opening practice of camp.

"I think it's big for any rookie to come in Day One signed just because there's a lot to learn, especially coming out of college," guard Mackenzy Bernadeau said. "You don't want to miss any days, especially during camp, when it counts."

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