The Carolina Panthers are expected to stick with their struggling rookie QB.
“I think we’ll stick with what our plan all along has been,” Whisenhunt said, “and that’s to play the best player, the player that gives us the best chance to win. I think right now that’s John Skelton.”
The fifth-round draft pick out of Fordham didn’t connect on his first seven passes - four were dropped - but finished 15 of 30 for 146 yards. More importantly, he didn’t have an interception and wasn’t sacked in the 43-13 rout for the Cardinals (4-9).
“I think what I really liked was his demeanor and how he handled himself,” Whisenhunt said. “He was able to handle (the pressure) and make some throws. There’s potential there to grow into that position and that’s the exciting part of it.”
Despite being drafted 107 spots ahead of Skelton, Clausen hasn’t generated that same excitement this season for the Panthers (1-12), who have yet to win when he’s played.
The second-round pick out of Notre Dame hasn’t cracked 200 yards, has no touchdowns in six straight contests and has been picked off in five of his seven starts.
That led to an angry response from receiver Steve Smith.
“You should apologize to the people in the huddle with you,” Smith said. “He has a lot to learn. He ain’t at Notre Dame anymore, that’s for sure.”
Despite those struggles and teammates’ frustrations, the beleaguered Fox said he didn’t see going to another quarterback, even with his team on the verge of losing eight in a row for the first time since Sept. 29-Nov. 24, 2002.
“I don’t think our struggles either (last week) or up to date have been all the quarterback position, because we’ve fielded a few of them,” Fox said. “We’ll evaluate that this week. We won’t announce starters, but I don’t see it changing moving forward.”
The inexperience under center could result in Fox and Whisenhunt relying more heavily on the ground game, as each team has one of the worst rush defenses in the league.
Carolina ranks 25th against the run at 132.6 yards per contest, allowing at least 100 in six consecutive games. Arizona is 30th at 143.3 yards and has given up at least 110 in five straight games.
Last Nov. 1, the Cardinals allowed the Panthers to gain 270 yards on the ground - the second-highest rushing total in franchise history - in a 34-21 home loss. Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams(notes) ran for a team-best 158 yards, but he’s out with a foot injury.
Carolina, winner of six straight regular-season meetings with Arizona, has scored an league-low 164 points - 61 fewer than the next-closest team.
The Cardinals, who have lost seven of nine all-time meetings, beat the Panthers 33-13 in the 2009 playoffs en route to their only Super Bowl appearance.
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