<
>

With Carr hurting, Testaverde could see action Sunday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Vinny Testaverde isn't finished yet, even
at age 43.

The Carolina Panthers, desperate for a quarterback with
Jake
Delhomme out for the season and David Carr banged up, signed
Testaverde to a one-year deal Wednesday.

The No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 1987 draft,
Testaverde wore his familiar No. 16 jersey during practice
Wednesday. Something that has also become familiar late in his
career are comments from teammates as he comes to the line. "Dad"
was a big hit with the Panthers.

"I haven't told them yet, but I have probably forgot more
football than these guys already know," Testaverde said with a
grin. "We'll have some fun with that."

Now with his sixth franchise, Testaverde has played in 226 games
with 208 starts. He was cut by New England before the start of the
season.

The 6-foot-5 Testaverde ranks sixth in NFL history with 6,529
pass attempts, 3,693 completions and 45,281 yards passing. He's
ninth with 270 touchdown passes and tied for 10th with 300-yard
passing games (30).

Testaverde's best season was 1996 with Baltimore, when he had
4,177 yards passing and 33 touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl. He
also made the Pro Bowl in 1998 with the New York Jets.

"He brings experience. He throws the ball extremely well. He's
a fierce competitor. It seems like he'll be an extremely good fit
for us," general manager Marty Hurney said.

Testaverde will provide insurance behind Carr, who became the
Panthers' No. 1 QB on Monday when the team announced Delhomme would
have season-ending elbow surgery.

However, Testaverde could be a candidate to start Sunday's game
at Arizona. Carr, who suffered a back injury in Carolina's win over
New Orleans, missed practice Wednesday.

Walking gingerly, Carr was unsure when he'll be able to return.

"I felt like my grandpa Monday. I felt like my dad today.
Hopefully I'll feel like my 7-year-old son by Sunday," Carr said.

With Testaverde and Carr now teammates in Carolina, it marks the first time ever that a team has two quarterbacks on its roster that were selected No. 1 overall.

Carr was the No. 1 overall pick in 2002 by the Texans.

Matt Moore, an undrafted rookie who played briefly Sunday when
Carr was being treated, is the other quarterback on the roster. But
Moore's inexperience and the fact he was signed only last month
after being cut by Dallas, could make Testaverde the better option
Sunday.

Coach John Fox said he believed Testaverde could be ready to
start, if needed.

"Both mentally and physically," Fox said. "He's a guy we were
fortunate enough to find at this point in the season."

Testaverde, who won the Heisman Trophy at Miami in 1986, the
same year Panthers rookie receiver Dwayne Jarrett was born, could
know enough of the offense to start against the Cardinals.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson, a former New England
assistant who is four years younger than Testaverde, has put in a
system similar to the Patriots' offense. Testaverde spent last
season with the Patriots.

"I know the system they run here," Testaverde said. "For
someone with my experience it is easier than say a younger player
coming in and trying to learn the system."

If Testaverde, who turns 44 next month, does start Sunday or at
any time during this season, he'll still be a few years away from
the oldest starting QB in NFL history. George Blanda started for
the Oakland Raiders in 1975 at the age of 48.

Hurney said he has no concerns with Testaverde's age.

"He played in two preseason games -- one was against us -- and he
still showed the ability to compete in this league," Hurney said.
"He's a guy who takes extremely good care of himself."

Delhomme was officially placed on injured reserve Wednesday to
make room for Testaverde, who flew into town early Wednesday and passed a physical.

The available pool of quarterbacks was thin, and the Panthers
were in competition with their opponent on Sunday. Testaverde said the Cardinals called him but he didn't want to move far away from his family in New York.

Arizona signed Tim Rattay on Tuesday after it was learned Matt Leinart would miss the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.
The Panthers then locked up Testaverde.

"When the Panthers called, I was excited about that,"
Testaverde said. "This is a much more workable situation for me."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.