Panthers Paw Prints: Clausen - "I'm Going to do Everything I Can to Become the Starter."

Good Thursday morning, Carolina Panthers fans. With practices back in session, the Panther drought is over and the news and links are flowing again. The main news focus seems to remain on the rookies and veteran backups, specifically players trying to make their way into the starting lineup and make an impact. The Panthers are sitting on a lot of raw young talent and potential. Whether or not they can channel that all into a winning football team this year is yet to be seen. Here are your links for Wednesday June 3, 2010:

A detailed article about Jimmy Clausen, including his college career, competitive spirit and throwing style. (PS: Look at a list of previous Notre Dame starting QBs. Who's ever heard of these chumps: Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Paul Hornung):

Clausen comfortable in Carolina. (Panthers.com)
"When Jimmy steps in the huddle, he doesn't have to learn a new language; he knows the language and understands a lot of the similar concepts. That's an advantage for him," said Panthers quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer. "Obviously, we do things different, but he doesn't have to learn a new language. For a young guy that's one of the biggest obstacles or the biggest part of the learning curve." Two characteristics that defined Clausen's play during his three seasons with the Fighting Irish were pinpoint accuracy and arm strength. He left his mark in the Notre Dame record books, finishing first or second in 32 passing categories. Clausen ranks first in school history with a 62.6 completion percentage and tied first with a 2.43 interception percentage, including a 0.94 mark as a junior in 2009 when he had a streak of 160 pass attempts without an interception on his way to compiling a 68.0 completion percentage that stood fifth in the nation. "That's my goal and that's what I'm doing right now. I'm going to everything I can to become the starter," he said. "My mentality is to prepare like I'm the starter and just go out there each and every day and have that mindset."

I think few people in the Panthers organization believe Moore will hold off Clausen as the QB of the future. The only question is when does the switch happen?

Moore or less: Panthers banking hopes on untested quarterback. (NFL.com)
With Smith and Moore seemingly building chemistry, the decision to make a switch at quarterback appears sensible. In breaking down Moore's game, he's best described as an efficient passer with slightly above average arm strength and good velocity. For someone with just eight career starts, he shows surprising timing and anticipation. He's also willing to opt for high-percentage throws to keep his team in manageable situations, which makes him the ideal caretaker to direct the Panthers' blue-collar offense.

 

More after the jump.

Another Clausen article (these are only going to get more common):

Watch these five rookies. (ESPN.com)
3. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Carolina Panthers: The former Notre Dame quarterback may not be the opening day starter, but it shouldn't take long before he gets his chance. He's too talented to sit behind Matt Moore. Even though Moore is 6-2 as a starter on a running team, Clausen gives the Panthers the ability to do more things with their passing game. In OTAs, the Panthers are trying more three- and four-receiver sets, fitting Clausen's style. In the past two seasons, three rookie quarterbacks ended up on playoff teams (Matt Ryan of the Falcons and Joe Flacco of the Ravens in 2008, and Mark Sanchez of the Jets last year). The Panthers have a young roster and might fall short of the playoffs, but the addition of Clausen -- combined with the Panthers' ability to run the ball more than 30 times a game -- could end up being a winning combination.

I had no idea Smitty was actually that interested in tennis. (I figured his tennis knowledge was in short supply? Ouch.)

An interesting pair | isner, smith, football. (GastonGazette.com)
Isner laughed when he received text messages from friends back home after television cameras showed Smith in the stands at the Australian Open rooting him on. "All my friends would text me," Isner said. "Obviously, the ones home back in Greensboro were jealous. It's cool. I'm glad I met him. He invited me to come down here and I have a few days off." ... Isner said watching practice was a thrill. He's been a Panthers fan since 1995 when he was 10. "When we were in Australia he was asking me all kinds of questions about football," Smith said. "He asked some questions I didn't even think he knew about. He's a hometown boy so he's very aware." Smith said he plans to go to London later this month to watch Isner compete at Wimbledon. But he added that he has no plans to meet Isner on the tennis court.

I hope he can keep up that kind of production, too. He seems like a special player:

Rookie growing pains no longer an issue for 2nd-year safety. (CharlotteObserver.com)
Playmaking hasn't been much of a problem for Martin. In only five starts, he tied for second on the Panthers with three interceptions, defended four passes and forced a fumble. With more playing time this season, expect Martin's production to be even better.

I take this to mean Johnson would be a 4-down right end, with everette brown being strictly an edge rusher on the left side on passing downs:

Bigger. Better. But I still ... (Darin Gantt via Twitter).
Bigger. Better. But I still think Charles Johnson starts and EB concentrates on pass-rush. RT @EvanIsRealTalk How is Everette Brown looking?

Cutting right to the heart of the issue, this is the #1 reason behind all contract issue questions this season:

NFC South Wednesday mailbag. (ESPN.com)
Rob in Fort Mill, S.C., writes: Per your Tuesday mailbag, "He’s not paying people like Marshall or Williams big money now because he doesn’t want to give big signing bonuses as he prepares his franchise for the possibility of a lockout. " If he doesn't have to pay the players during the lockout, how can that be a reason for not signing new contracts to core players?

PY: Because the way contracts are done is so they usually have a large chunk of the money up front in the form of a signing bonus. Richardson would have to lay out money now. That’s money he’s conserving or avoiding going into debt to get. He’s saving what he’s got and hoping that’s enough for the Panthers to weather the storm of a possible lockout.

Not Panthers specific, but NFC South related. Sharper making outright threats on Twitter:

Sharper fires back after target practice. (ESPN.com)
Just when we thought New Orleans safety Darren Sharper and the Minnesota Vikings were done with their Twitter war -- at least for the day, they’re at it again. After Minnesota’s Visanthe Shiancoe revealed a pseudo Sharper dressed as Osama Bin Ladan, Sharper came back with his strongest response yet:

sharper42 Imma bust you right under your chinstrap from the first play on. I don't care about the fine. F the money Imma do it for the red,white&blue

Panthers Kenny Moore:

Going old school... (Kenny Moore via Twitter)
Going old school getn me a fade!

Fantasy football links of the day:

This is a really good chat for all fantasy football fans, but there's also a question on the Panthers QB conversation, from a fantasy standpoint:

NFL Live Chat: Fantasy Focus (NFL.com)
Steven D., Jacksonville, NC 2:53 PM ET Any rookie quarterbacks (besides Sam Bradford) worth drafting? How about Jimmy Clausen? (obviously, I am a Panthers fan)

Michael Fabiano, NFL.com In a seasonal league, I would say Bradford is worth a late-round pick. As a Panthers fan, I'd be excited about Matt Moore. He's shown some potential.

Jonathan Stewart even more explosive? Wow. Look out:

Injuries In Depth, (Rotoworld.com)
JONATHAN STEWART Injury: Had surgery to remove a bone spur that was pressing into his troublesome Achilles' tendon. Why have surgery (Stewart has never missed an NFL game): "That's one of those things -- it's annoying -- but you can play through it. My experience is that if he's got an extra bone coming off his Achilles' tendon, surgery is essentially the only thing that's going to clear that out. If that's what the cause of his symptoms were, and they removed it, then he should be good to go." Could he be more explosive now that he's had the surgery: "Hard to say. We don't know how he went week-to-week. Some weeks he could have had a lot of pain and some weeks he may have not felt it at all."

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