CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Jake Delhomme and David Carr were miserable last year.
Weighted by Super Bowl expectations, Delhomme struggled through his worst season since he became Carolina's starting quarterback. Carr, constantly scrambling behind a bad offensive line in Houston, wanted a new start with a better team.
Carr was released by the Texans, then signed with the Panthers to be Delhomme's backup. And after their first minicamp together, both are happy again - and not concerned about any perceived quarterback controversy.
``This is the best weekend I've had in a long time,'' Carr said Sunday. ``As far as the talent on this team, it's something I haven't been around. It's fun for me, just coming out here and playing with a group, both offensively and defensively, that has as much skill.''
Delhomme is relieved 2006 is over, as memories of his struggles and Carolina's disappointing 8-8 season begin to fade.
``We weren't good last year. That was the frustrating part, we didn't have fun,'' Delhomme said. ``I need to get back to going out there and having fun.''
Coach John Fox insists Delhomme is the clear No. 1 quarterback, and Carr has said he's content being a backup for the first time in his career. But Delhomme knows he needs to improve.
Always unorthodox and fiery, Delhomme had been the toast of the town since he replaced Rodney Peete at halftime of the 2003 opener and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
But last year the honeymoon ended. He struggled with his accuracy and made costly mental errors. The Panthers struggled to score, had the worst third-down conversion rate in the NFL, and the calls for backup Chris Weinke grew louder.
``Yeah, we had some injuries, but we didn't produce like we felt we could have last year,'' Delhomme said. ``Nobody's to blame but us as players for not getting it done.''
Weinke did replace Delhomme late in the season - when Delhomme sprained his right thumb - but was ineffective and was let go in March.
Carr, the No. 1 overall pick in 2002 and a five-year starter, would be a much bigger threat to challenge Delhomme if he gets off to a bad start next season.
``I think it's great. I love having another set of eyes,'' Delhomme said of Carr. ``He's started a bunch of games in this league, so when I come to the sideline, I can not only talk to (quarterbacks coach Mike McCoy), but the other quarterbacks and get that extra feedback from them.''
Carr insists he doesn't mind being the backup and suggested he might even need the break after being sacked an NFL-high 249 times in the past five years.
``We're getting along great,'' Carr said of Delhomme. ``He's taught me some things. He's super hard on himself and it kind of rubs off on the group. It makes us all better.''
Delhomme and Carr are also learning new offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson's system, designed to make star receiver Steve Smith the focal point. Carr marveled at the fun he had ``slinging the ball to No. 89'' during the minicamp. Delhomme had a bounce in his step missing during last year's disappointing season.
``You've got to enjoy the game,'' Carr said. ``If you're not having fun, it's going to be like what I had the last couple of years where you almost don't even want to come to work.''
Notes: There was a scary moment late in Sunday's workout when Smith came down awkwardly after leaping for a pass and rolled around on the ground clutching his left leg. Smith wasn't seriously injured. ``He's fine. He just landed funny,'' coach John Fox said, while acknowledging that ``2004 flashed in front of my eyes,'' when Smith broke his leg and missed the final 15 games. ... Jeremy Bridges, who played tackle last season, worked at guard during the weekend. ... The Panthers will be on the field again May 30 to start three weeks of coaching sessions.

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