Foxhole: Clausen to start

Comments from Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox following the team's practice.

On injuries: Did not participate - Greg Hardy (concussion), Jonathan Stewart (concussion), Tyrell Sutton (ankle) and DeAngelo Williams (foot). Limited participation - Nic Harris (knee).

On who will start at quarterback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: I think right now Jimmy (Clausen) would be our starter. I didn't have a lot of doubts about that even earlier in the week. Get the guys out here, get them practicing and see how they went about their business. I thought Jimmy had an outstanding day.

On where he would like to see rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen improve: As I've mentioned before, he's got all the tools. Tony Pike has the tools. Matt Moore had the tools. The key is experience. With more and more experience, he'll get better in those things. I don't have any doubts about that. You just can't rush it. He's had some experiences and he'll grow with each one of them.

On if Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is a good example of what he's talking about: I think so. His rookie year, I can remember a game right here where I think it was a learning experience for him. It was a rough day. But he's a fine, young player having an outstanding season and actually playing as good as most quarterbacks in the league right now.

On Freeman's development: He's playing as well as about any quarterback we've seen to date. He hurt us a lot in our first game with his feet in some scrambling situations - scrambling to throw and to run. They're (Buccaneers) doing really well on third down, and most of those cases on third down are passes. He's grown tremendously and a big reason why they're 5-3.

On how the Panthers will try to limit what Freeman can do with his feet: We've got to be a little more disciplined in some of our rushes. He's a big guy. Actually, we were O.K. in a couple of rushes and just missed him. So we've to practice tackling a big quarterback. We use those big, blue bags over there; they're a little easier to hit than him. We'll do whatever we can to simulate that. On the coverage end, you have to stay in coverage and expect the down to go a little longer when he can buy that kind of time.

On how newly signed running back Josh Vaughan practiced: Good. I thought he was a very smart guy. He did pretty good in the preseason. He knows our offense. He can slip in at fullback, tailback, so he had a good first practice.

On if it was an easy decision to bring back Vaughan, who had been on the Panthers' practice squad earlier this season: Yeah. He's a guy that knows what we're doing. We've got to get him ready to play this week against Tampa Bay in Tampa. He was very logical.

On his comfort level at running back with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Tyrell Sutton injured: Obviously when you're missing two first-round picks in DeAngelo and Jonathan, I don't know that I could honestly say I was comfortable. But I feel confident that whoever we put back there will have success. No different than Tyrell Sutton did Sunday. Even though in a brief look I thought he did well. We've had a long list of guys that have stepped in and had some successes, and we expect the next man up to do that.

On how linebacker Nic Harris did in practice: Good. He was a little bit limited today. But just like Jimmy Clausen, he is kind of new to us. He is getting more familiar with our system each day and he'll improve each day.

On how Harris played against the New Orleans Saints: He did as well as you could expect a guy coming off the bench with not a lot of reps in an NFL football game.

On the team's attitude: Their attitude has been great all season. Even at 0-5, 1-7, it's been the same. There is no lack of effort. They're working hard and trying to get better.

On the decision to place tackle Jeff Otah on injured reserve: We didn't feel like we were going to have enough progress and enough time to get him ready to play football, not just be healthy. Missing that much time for any player, I don't care what position, it takes a minute to get back into football shape, and we didn't think it was going to time out right.

On why it is taking so long for Otah to come back from routine arthroscopic knee surgery: With all injuries, it's all different. Not being a doctor, I can't pinpoint exactly what that would be. Just the timing of it wasn't going to work out.

On if the Panthers would have waited longer before placing Otah on injured reserve if the team's record was better: Your record doesn't have a whole to do with injuries.

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