CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Vinny Testaverde thinks he may be holding a clipboard on Sunday.
The 43-year-old quarterback has been the toast of the town and the talk of the NFL after leading the Carolina Panthers to a win four days after signing with the team. But he returned from the team's bye weekend Monday sounding as if he'll be the backup behind David Carr against Indianapolis.
``Hopefully, Dave's back is fine and he'll be able to play,'' Testaverde said. ``But whatever decision is made, I'm going to try and do my best, like I did last week, to help the team win a football game.''
Testaverde, who threw for 206 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions filling in for Carr in a win at Arizona, was then asked if he's planning on being the backup against the Colts if Carr's back is healed.
``I guess that's how I'm looking at it, but I don't know how the coaching staff looks at it,'' Testaverde said. ``Because, like I said, to me it doesn't matter because I'm preparing like I'm going to start the game anyway. That's how I've always done it.''
Testaverde and the Panthers (4-2) returned from their three-day weekend Monday alone in first place in the NFC South after Tampa Bay (4-3) lost to Detroit. But the quarterback question remained the hot topic.
Carr did not walk through the locker room during the media's availability period. He said last week he thought he would be healthy enough to play against the Colts.
Coach John Fox, always looking for the slightest competitive advantage, hasn't named a starter and didn't speak to reporters Monday. Players insisted they didn't know which way Fox was leaning.
``Don't ask me,'' tackle Jordan Gross said. ``My wife asked me and I said, 'I don't know. I'll tell you Sunday at 1.'''
Even as Testaverde hinted he'd be heading to the bench, he spent the weekend in New York with his wife and kids chuckling over the notoriety he's received for becoming the oldest starting quarterback to win a game.
``I did catch some of the sports shows and they're talking about, 'How does Vinny feel? Is he sore today?''' said Testaverde, who turns 44 next month. ``Really, I wasn't any more sore Monday than I was when I was on a Monday when I was 25.''
Whichever quarterback gets the call faces a tough task against the Super Bowl champions in what will be a matchup of division leaders. The Panthers' good fortune continued over the weekend when the Buccaneers lost, leaving the Panthers on top of a weakened division despite hardly looking dominant.
``I think everybody realizes this team is full of talent but sometimes we don't go out and play like we have a lot of talent,'' cornerback Ken Lucas said. ``That is where a lot of the frustration comes from in the media and the fan base - that we're not performing the way we're capable of performing.
``We need to try to figure out a way to go out and perform at a consistent level. We have been on a roller-coaster ride and we have a two-game winning streak and hopefully we can make it three this week.''
That will be tough against the Colts, even though the schedule works in their favor. While they're coming off a bye, the Colts played Monday night in Jacksonville, and could be looking ahead to their showdown with New England a week after visiting Carolina.
But the Panthers will likely have to offset the Colts' high-powered offense, with either Carr or Testaverde.
``I think you've got to prepare the same way every week whether you're the starter, you're the backup, you're the third guy,'' Testaverde said. ``Because really you're only one snap away, if you're the backup, from getting into the game.''

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