Strickly Panthers: Bears QB changes, defense's plan doesn't

CHARLOTTE – Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will miss Sunday's game against the Panthers while recovering from a concussion, leaving the job to veteran Todd Collins.

The Panthers, however, don't think much will change with the young gunslinger on the sideline and the 38-year-old under center.

"As the coordinator, you could be conservative, but with him being a veteran guy, I think the offense will stay the same," Panthers defensive end Everette Brown said. "They'll put the ball in his hands because he's been around a long time and he knows what to do with it.

"We're not going to prepare any differently, but if needed, we'll adjust during the game."

The Panthers' pass rushers hope nothing changes with Chicago from a week ago, when the Bears were sacked 10 times in a 17-3 loss to the New York Giants.

Cutler absorbed nine of the sacks – all in the first half – and as a result will miss a start due to injury for the first time in his NFL career. Cutler had made 61 consecutive starts since the Denver Broncos put him in the lineup midway through his rookie year in 2006.

The Panthers have just four sacks through four games, but two of them came last week at New Orleans.

"We're getting better, week in and week out," Brown said. "Other than Week 1, we've had quarterbacks running for their lives or not having the time to operate that they want.

"Now with this being the first opponent to really have a traditional drop-back passer with long routes down the field, it adds a little boost."


On the flip side of the equation, Panthers rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is hoping to avoid getting sacked the Bears, who also have just four sacks this season.

Slowing down defensive end Julius Peppers is never easy, but it should help that Clausen is adjusting to the speed of the NFL.

"The speed of the game is a lot different than college, but it's slowing down a little bit for me," Clausen said. "Sunday against New Orleans was a lot slower than it was the week before.

"Going into an environment like that and playing against the defending world champions, that's only going to make us better."

Clausen said the offense is indeed getting better – and not just on Sundays.

"I think each and every day that we go out to practice, we get better," he said. "More confidence is building between our offensive line, tight ends, backs, receivers and myself. We're just trying to get a little chemistry going."

According to Clausen, his early struggles at Notre Dame are helping him deal with the rocky start for the Panthers. The Fighting Irish started 1-9 in 2007 but won its last two games and then became bowl eligible the next season.

"That definitely prepared me for what we're going through now at 0-4," Clausen said. "It was a rough year, but you grow from adversity, and that's what we're doing right now. We've got to keep pushing and plugging along, and good things are going to happen."

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