CHARLOTTE – Talk about your Monday morning quarterback.
Thanks to a rash of injuries and inconsistency at quarterback, head coach John Fox's weekly press conferences each Monday have focused on that position more than any other.
That was the case yet again Monday, though the decision at quarterback this week will have to wait until later in the week.
"We're kind of on alert because we're not going to know much medically until Wednesday," Fox said.
Fox said rookie Jimmy Clausen likely would return to the starting role for Sunday's game at the Cleveland Browns – if he's cleared medically. Clausen missed Sunday's 37-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens due to a concussion sustained a week earlier, and recent acquisition Brian St. Pierre made his first NFL start.
Meanwhile, St. Pierre said that if the Panthers had practiced Monday (they won't practice until Wednesday) he wouldn't have been able to take part because of soreness in his throwing shoulder.
"It's muscle soreness. It's pretty tender right now," said St. Pierre, who threw 28 passes Sunday after throwing five in his first seven years in the league. "I've just got to get in the training room and see if they can get me better, as fast as possible, so hopefully I don't miss much time.
"Right now I've just got to get myself feeling well enough to have a chance to play."
Here's how Carolina's version of Monday morning quarterback has played out so far this season:
--After Matt Moore started but struggled through the first two games, Fox named Clausen the starter for Week 3 versus Cincinnati.
--After Clausen was ineffective in his third start and was replaced by Moore in the fourth quarter, Fox named Moore the starter following the team's bye week.
--Moore led the team to its first victory in his return to the lineup and appeared to be entrenched as starter before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 9 against New Orleans. The next day, Fox named Clausen the starter.
--Clausen led the team to a promising performance at Tampa Bay in Week 10 but suffered a concussion. Fox didn't choose between St. Pierre and rookie Tony Pike on Monday, but he decided last Thursday to go with St. Pierre.
--Monday, Fox reiterated what he said following Sunday's loss to the Ravens: Clausen gives the team the best chance to win, if healthy.
"I don't know what they're going to do with the position. I'm not sure they know, either," St. Pierre said Monday. "We'll just wait and see, I guess."
St. Pierre pulled the Panthers within a touchdown early in the fourth quarter Sunday with an 88-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver David Gettis, but he threw two late interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. On the touchdown and the interceptions, St. Pierre was feeling the effects of a week spent trying to get up to speed following nearly a year out of football.
"You try to stay in shape at home, but it's not the same," St. Pierre said. "You're not getting the volume of throws that you normally would as a starting quarterback. I think it progressively got more and more sore, but I wasn't in a position to try and let it calm down – I needed every rep I could get.
"I tried to play through it, and then it got a little worse during the game. Then late in the third quarter, I felt it. It hurt pretty good."
In this crazy season, it's not the first time the Panthers have dealt with pain at the position.