Clausen 'Surprised' by Starting Nod

QB Jimmy Clausen (Chuck Burton/AP)

Jimmy Clausen said he was "surprised" when coach John Fox told him Monday morning that he'd be starting this Sunday against Cincinnati.

"I was just coming in, another day of work and watching film and starting to get ready for the Bengals," Jimmy Clausen said. "But I was surprised to hear that I was going to be starting. At the same time it's time to get to work now."

Clausen said starting an NFL game is something he's dreamt about his entire life.

"It's exciting," Clausen said with a smile.

Clausen took over with 10:03 left in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against Tampa Bay with the Panthers trailing 20-7.

He drove the Panthers 79 yards to the Bucs 1-yard line, but Jonathan Stewart was stuffed on a fourth down run and Tampa Bay took over. Clausen threw an interception on his next possession and finished the game 7 of 13 for 59 yards for a quarterback rating of 33.8.

Meanwhile, Matt Moore said he was "not happy" about getting benched.

"I understand, I accept it," Moore said. "But it's definitely not what you want to hear as a player. I'll be behind Jimmy as the weeks go on."

Moore said he hasn't lost confidence.

"I try not to worry," he said. "I believe in myself. I know I can do the job. I don't think my thoughts were headed in that direction at all. I was confident, I still am. I know I can play. Unfortunately, the last two showings haven't been great. This is the option we have and they went with it."

Fox said he hasn't lost faith in Moore either.

"This isn't an indictment on Matt at all," Fox said. "I wouldn't want him to agree with the decision. I don't think he will. I don't know where our confidence level is on offense. This is just a move to try to spark our offense and we'll see how it goes. This isn't a situation where all of the blame is on Matt. We've played different wideouts. We've had a couple of different lines rotating through there ... We're going to try our hand with Jimmy Clausen."

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES


WR Steve Smith
Rick Havner/AP
--WR Steve Smith took a shot to his wrist from Tampa Bay CB Elbert Mack on Sunday, but said X-rays revealed no broken bones.

"It was a good shot," Smith said. "His facemask went right into my wrist. I was pretty nervous and it brought back some bad memories. But, it's feeling good."

Smith said the wrist is "a little sore."

Smith finished the game with three receptions for 66 yards and a 37-yard touchdown, his second of the season.

The Panthers reported no injuries from the game.

--Carolina's defense continues to struggle getting off the field on third down.

On Sunday, the Bucs converted five of seven third-down chances in the first half.

Kellen Winslow, in particular, was a huge pain for the Panthers. The Tampa Bay tight end had 83 yards receiving on four third-down receptions, all of those resulting in first downs. On one third-and-17 play, Josh Freeman eluded two defenders in the backfield and fired a bullet 40 yards downfield for Winslow.

"(Freeman) played great," said linebacker Jon Beason. "He made some nice passes and showed his athletic ability by scrambling when he had to. That's what the game comes down to. We were awful on third downs. Kellen made some plays, some with his hands and some with his legs."

--As has been a problem throughout the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season, Matt Moore struggled with overthrowing receivers on deep routes.

He overthrew both WR David Gettis and TE Dante Rosario after they'd gotten behind the defense.

"You practice those things and they work out," Moore said. "In a game, the last thing you want to do is underthrow a ball, but you don't want to leave your receiver out there hanging like the one to Gettis. You just have to hit those. Those are the situations we have to hit to be successful."

--Despite the return of RB Tyrell Sutton, Mike Goodson remained the team's third-down back Sunday and did pretty well, finishing with five carries for 20 yards and two catches for 33 yards. Goodson was used effectively on screen plays, showing a good burst of speed.

"You just got to time everything up with the linebackers," Goodson said. "The linebackers can mess the whole play up so it's a timing thing. But if you get out and get it sometimes it's either a first down or a touchdown."

Goodson had one nice kickoff return of 43 yards, but also misplayed another that went off his hands and out of bounds at the 6-yard line.

"I was kind of caught in the middle of do I let the ball bounce -- because it didn't look like it was going to go out of bounds right away -- or do I catch it?" Goodson said. "In my indecision, I ended up dropping it. That was kind of bad, but all it did was fired me up for the next return and we got a big one."

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Matt Moore has been benched with the Panthers off to an 0-2 start. Coach John Fox said he needed to do something to ignite the passing game.

--QB Jimmy Clausen will make his first NFL start this week against Cincinnati.

--RB Jonathan Stewart ran a little more effectively against Tampa Bay, but still hasn't found the end zone.

--RB DeAngelo Williams had a couple of nice 10-yard runs on Sunday but was fairly quite overall as teams continue to send extra players into the box to stuff the run.

--WR Steve Smith hasn't lost a step at all. He has two touchdown receptions in his first two games.

--WR Brandon LaFell missed last week's game with a strained hamstring, but the hope is he'll be back on the field this week.

--WR David Gettis was the surprise starter in Week 2 over Dwayne Jarrett and had two grabs for 18 yards.

--WR Dwayne Jarrett admitted he's frustrated that he hasn't had a chance to start this season and has been passed over by rookies Brandon LaFell and David Gettis.

--TE Dante Rosario was the primary tight end target on Sunday for the Panthers. Rosario had a chance for a TD pass, but Matt Moore slightly overthrew him.

--LB Dan Connor has the team's only sack through two games.

--DE Charles Johnson, whom the Panthers hoped would have a breakout season, has been shutout in the sack department.

--CB Chris Gamble played last week despite a sprained ankle.

--CB C.J. Wilson was re-signed last week to give the Panthers another cornerback, but he did not play on Sunday.

--RT Jeff Otah remains out. He didn't play in the first two games and is recovering from a knee injury.



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