Strickly Panthers: Clausen's toe troubles

CHARLOTTE – Rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Monday to rest a sore toe, but Clausen didn't declare himself 100 percent.

In fact, Clausen said he didn't think he would be 100 percent any time soon, though he doesn't seem to be sweating it.

"The doctor said it's probably going to be after the season until I feel 100 percent," Clausen said. "I'm just going to have to play through some aches and pains until the season is over, but that's just the nature of football."

Clausen had surgery to repair two torn tendons in his right big toe in January, an injury he suffered in September of 2009 while leading Notre Dame to a victory over Michigan State.

"To be honest, I didn't really know how serious it was until right before the (NFL) combine. I would just take shots in my toes and just play through it," said Clausen, the Panthers' second-round pick in the April draft. "It feels good some days, and a little sore some other days. Especially after a game, it's going to be sore."

Clausen had reason to be sore all over after spending much of the second half on the run in Saturday's 9-3 loss to the New York Jets. Clausen, who completed 9-of-22 passes for 72 yards, threatened to direct the Panthers to a game-winning touchdown drive before tossing an interception that essentially ended the game.

"I wish I could have had some throws back, especially the last one – that interception – but that's just how football goes," Clausen said. "The Jets are a great defense, and it's real good – especially for a young guy like myself – to play against a defense like that, seeing pressures each and every down."

Clausen said he wasn't concerned about the toe issue hampering his play going forward.

"When you're out there playing," he said, "you're not really thinking about anything but making plays."


PASS HAPPY: The Panthers are throwing the ball more in the preseason than they did throughout 2009, yet they have no offensive touchdowns to show for it.

Don't fret. The approach is more of a reflection of what the offense needs to work on than it is any sort of indication of what the coaches think will work best come the regular season.

"That's what preseason games are for, to try to work on it and execute the best that we can," starting quarterback Matt Moore said. "It's definitely been a focus for us."

The Panthers threw the ball 40 times in the preseason opener and 39 in their second game. Over the course of the 16-game regular season in 2009, they averaged 29 pass attempts per game, throwing it more than 34 times in a game just three times.

That doesn't mean for a second that the Panthers are threatening to abandon their tried-and-true running game. Rather, they're confident in the continued success of an attack that featured 1,100-yard backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart in 2009, leaving them more time to work on a passing game that clearly could use the extra reps.

The Panthers ranked third in rushing yardage in the NFL last season but 27th in passing yardage.

"All the time and effort as we've put in the passing game, we know there's a need for it," Moore said.

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