|Panthers have 2-1 edge in injured QBs in matchup with Cardinals|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 12 October 2007 12:03|
The Panthers and Arizona match 3-2 records, and both teams have lost their starting quarterbacks for the season: Jake Delhomme (elbow surgery) for Carolina and Matt Leinart (broken collarbone) for the Cardinals.
But while Kurt Warner is making a smooth transition into the job for Arizona, Carolina is scrambling with backup David Carr sidelined with a sore lower back. If Carr can't play, that leaves the Panthers with rookie Matt Moore or 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde, who signed with Carolina on Wednesday.
``It's not very common where you have two guys who are practicing in Week 5 who weren't even with you on Sept. 1,'' Carolina coach John Fox said.
Carr finally practiced on Friday and was listed as probable.
Meanwhile, Testaverde was taking a cram course in the Panthers' playbook.
``That would be amazing if he plays Sunday,'' Warner said. ``I don't know what his background is, but to be able to pick it up and have enough of a comfort level to play, and on top of that after being out of the game the first five weeks, that would be pretty amazing.''
Carr has watched Testaverde at work all week.
``Vinny has still got it,'' Carr said. ``I guess I shouldn't be surprised. He's definitely a big dude, and he can still throw it.''
Testaverde was contacted by the Cardinals this week, too, but Arizona wound up signing Tim Rattay as the backup to Warner.
``They did call,'' Testaverde said, ``but for me being up in New York it was too far to go. I have a wife and three kids at home. Certainly when the Panthers called, I was excited, and it was a much more workable situation.''
While the Panthers unravel their quarterback options, the Cardinals are set with Warner, who already has seen considerable playing time at the controls when the team goes to its ``no-huddle'' offense.
``I'm just excited,'' Warner said. ``I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel young. I feel like my body and arm are in good shape. I feel really good and comfortable in the offense.''
Under first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona is off to its best start since 2001 and is 2-0 at home, with victories over Seattle and Pittsburgh. The Cardinals are among the league leaders in offense. Edgerrin James is the NFC rushing leader at 442 yards. Larry Fitzgerald leads the conference in yards receiving at 448.
But Whisenhunt, the Steelers' offensive coordinator before coming to Arizona, is far from satisfied.
``We've got a ways to go,'' he said. ``We haven't scored a tremendous amount of points. We've been fairly efficient, but one thing we need to improve on is third down. We're probably middle of the pack as far as that goes. If we're better on third downs, it's going to help us sustain drives, which will give us time of possession, which will get our defense off the field and help them be fresher.''
Arizona could be without two-time Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin for the third straight game because of a hip injury. He did not practice all week and was listed as doubtful. The Cardinals will again be without starting right tackle Levi Brown because of a nagging ankle injury.
With their quarterback situation in flux, Carolina can rely on one of the league's top rushing attacks, with the 1-2 punch of DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams.
Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said that no matter who is the Carolina quarterback, the Cardinals are in for a tough challenge.
``They've got a physical offensive line, two good running backs and one of the best receivers in the league (Steve Smith),'' Dockett said. ``At the end of the day, we've got to go out there and cut down our mistakes. It's a very big game.''
The Panthers' defense wants to make things easier for the battered offense.
``The defense is going to have to relieve a little pressure and not give up as many points,'' safety Chris Harris said. ``We've got to try to hold teams to three, 10 or around that number.''
Oddly, Carolina is unbeaten on the road but winless at home.
``We're extremely focused on the road on just being professional and doing our jobs, and making more plays than the other guys,'' Carr said. ``We kind of take it personally that fans aren't cheering for us.''
The Panthers will play in a year-old stadium packed to capacity. The extreme noise generated by fans was a factor in Arizona's victories over the Seahawks and Steelers.
``When we went to St. Louis (last week), wow, it was dead in there,'' Dockett said. ``It's good to get back to our home. Hopefully, the fans will be there. Hopefully, they'll make it one of the rowdiest places to play in the National Football League. So far it has. It's been loud in there.''
AP Sports Writer Mike Cranston in Charlotte contributed to this story.