Carr might play Sunday but Vinny might start
And 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde insists he's OK as the starter or backup.
The Panthers' much-dissected quarterback situation took another twist Wednesday when Carr practiced without limitations. He said his sore back is getting better, and he expects to be on the field for the first series Sunday against Indianapolis.
"If I feel healthy, I would hope so," Carr said. "I think Vinny probably feels the same way."
But Fox wouldn't name Carr the starter Wednesday, hinting at perhaps some sort of two-man platoon. Or was it just a ploy to try to confuse the Colts?
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"I'm not hiding anything. I'm just not totally sure yet," Fox said. "One guy hasn't practiced in quite some time and the other guy is fairly new. So we'll keep you posted."
The unusual situation arose after Jake Delhomme was lost for the season with a right elbow injury in Week 3.
Carr took over, then sustained what he called a compression fracture in his lower back against New Orleans on Oct. 7. After being carted off the field, he received treatment and took several painkillers before returning in the second half and leading the Panthers to a come-from-behind win.
But Carr couldn't play the following week, forcing the Panthers to sign Testaverde. After only four days of practice, he threw for 206 yards, including the go-ahead 65-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith in the fourth quarter in a win at Arizona, becoming the oldest starting quarterback to win an NFL game.
Fox has since refused to name a starter.
"Coach just said he'll make that decision later in the week," Testaverde said. "Maybe he's made his mind up, I don't know. Either way, I always prepare as if I'm going to start the game. That's the only way I know to prepare for a game. Whether David plays or I play, I think this is team is good hands."
Carr, who joked in the locker room Wednesday that he had just had his "72nd massage in 14 days," indicated he was happy following his first full practice since the injury.
"I didn't feel great out there, but I felt better than I did last week," Carr said. "I couldn't run last week. I was moving around. I didn't feel I was limited. I was a little tight, maybe a little rusty."
Carr acknowledged he has some extra motivation to be ready to play against the Colts. He developed a dislike for the Super Bowl champions when he faced them twice a year for division rival Houston. Carr helped the Texans stun the Colts 27-24 in Week 16 last season, the last time Indianapolis lost.
"They know I don't like them. The Colts know that," Carr said. "We've had our issues in the past. We've seen each other enough. It's going to be fun, man. I just got to get my back right and get this thing healthy so I can get a chance to go out there."
The key to either quarterback's success could be establishing the running game, and Carolina has injury concerns there as well.
Reserve running back and kick returner Nick Goings went on on injured reserve on Wednesday, nearly a month after he sustained at least the third concussion of his career.
The Panthers signed linebacker Donte Curry to replace him on the 53-man roster.
But the focus remains at quarterback, where Fox will choose between two former No. 1 overall draft picks. Only Testaverde came out of college in 1987, 15 years before Carr.
Testaverde, who turns 44 next month, wasn't sure he'd get another job after he was released by New England before the start of the regular season. But his play against the Cardinals gives the Panthers another option.
"Whether David starts or I start and the other guy is unhappy about it, and makes it known to the players and coaches and everybody out there, it only hurts the team," Testaverde said. "And I'm not about hurting the team. I'm here to help the team. Whatever that role is I'm going to accept it and move forward with it."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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