Strickly Panthers: Dropping back

CHARLOTTE – Panthers quarterbacks Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen don't have a lot of NFL experience, but both are leaning on what experience they do have to deal with a multitude of challenges facing them.

Both have endured on-the-field struggles, with Panthers quarterbacks ranked last among the 32 NFL teams with a passer rating of 43.6.

Moore also had to deal with being replaced by Clausen as the starter after two games.

"It comes with the territory," said Moore, who was on the other end of a similar situation last season when he replaced struggling starter Jake Delhomme after the veteran suffered a hand injury. "If you don't play up to par, you can't expect to be on the field. That's just the way it is.

"Did I like it? No, but there's nothing I could do about it. It just comes with the job. I guess I'm OK with it now, because I have to be. I've stayed as positive as I can. I'm contributing any way I can, so everything is good."

Clausen could face a similar situation. Moore replaced Clausen late in last Sunday's 23-6 loss to the Chicago Bears, a result that dropped Carolina to 0-5.

Head coach John Fox hasn't named his starter yet, saying earlier this week that going back to Moore is "something we'll look at" leading up to the Oct. 24 visit by the San Francisco 49ers.

"He stepped in and made a couple of good throws, and he moved the team," Fox said of Moore. "He's a guy that obviously started the season as our starter, a guy we have a good feel about."

Moore said he wasn't sure what led to his struggles the first two games, but he does feel like he's ready to give it another shot if the opportunity presents itself.

"Whatever it was to figure out, I don't know what it was, but I feel good," Moore said. "If we had to play right now, I'd go in and sling it around and, hopefully, have a better result than the last game-and-a-half or whatever it was."

Clausen, of course, has never dealt with the issues at hand as a pro because he's an NFL rookie.

"You can't just go out there, turn a switch and be an all-pro. That's just how the game is, but we're trying to speed up that process as quick as we can," he said. "You're going to have good days and bad days. Last Sunday was a bad day."

Clausen has, however, dealt with similar struggles on the college level. He didn't lose a game in high school but then started his college career during one of the toughest seasons in Notre Dame's storied history.

"I've been in this situation before. My freshman year at Notre Dame we were 0-5," Clausen said. "There were some times when I was down on myself about whether I could play on that level and whether I made the right choice to go to Notre Dame or not. There was just a lot of negativity going through my mind.

"I just talked to friends and family, and they said, 'Just calm down. You'll get through it. Just keep fighting. Strong people come out on top.'"

That's the same approach Clausen is now taking with the Panthers.

"What I took from that was to just keep fighting, keep battling, keep grinding and have a smile on your face because that will translate to the rest of the team," Clausen said. "Even when you're not winning, it's just a matter of time until you get to that point where everything starts clicking and things are going the right way for you."

Clausen said he's learned to keep on an even keel. Fox, for one, has been impressed by the rookie's demeanor.

"This is combative, competitive sport," Fox said. "These guys have a special feature about them that enjoys it, and they realize you're not always going to be successful."

Moore, despite all the negatives, also is taking a positive approach.

"We've just got to dig ourselves out," Moore said. "We're just going to keep working, and it will explode soon, hopefully."


OTAH STILL RECOVERING: Panthers right tackle Jeff Otah estimated Wednesday that he's still at least a couple of weeks away from returning to practice as he continues to battle back from his second knee surgery in less than a year.

"I've got to strengthen the leg, and it's taking time with my big frame," said Otah, who wouldn't speculate about his return to game action.

Fox said Thursday that injured players like Otah and linebacker Thomas Davis, who will be eligible to practice beginning next week, are keeping their heads in the game.

"They want to be out there. They're just not capable physically right now to do it," Fox said. "They live and die with what happens out there.

"They're in the locker room; they're in the meetings; they're a part of the team."


PANTHERS PURRSUIT: Saturday is the final day to register for Panthers Purrsuit, a social media challenge presented by the Panthers and Allen Tate Company.

Registration is available online. The cost of the quest is $40 per two-person team and kicks off at noon on Oct. 23 at Bank of America Stadium.

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