CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Determined to avoid injuries, Carolina Panthers coach John Fox decided not to play his starters in the final preseason game Thursday in Pittsburgh.
But Fox had backup quarterback Matt Moore still in the game late in the third quarter behind a suspect backup offensive line -- until Moore was carted to the locker room after being hit in the legs and sacked by unblocked safety Anthony Smith.
While a team spokesman said Friday that tests showed no broken bones or damaged ligaments in Moore's injured left leg, his uncertain status for the season opener on Sept. 7 at San Diego could change how the Panthers approach shedding 21 players by Saturday afternoon.
Will the Panthers keep only starting QB Jake Delhomme and Moore? Does Moore's injury mean third-stringer Brett Basanez keeps his job? Will the Panthers look to snatch up a quarterback released by another team, perhaps Tampa Bay's Chris Simms?
The Panthers were tightlipped Friday, and don't expect them to drop any hints. Management takes pride in being one of the last teams to officially announce their cuts.
The good news is Moore, who started late last season as an undrafted rookie, didn't suffer a more serious injury after the hard hit.
"Your heart had to be in your mouth for Matt," Delhomme said. "You never want to see something like that."
With Delhomme watching the entire 19-16 loss, Moore started and played nearly three full quarters, even as the game got sloppy and the Panthers changed out second-teamers for third-stringers. Moore completed 15 of 27 passes for 164 yards and two interceptions.
Basanez fared better playing in the fourth quarter, completing 6 of 11 passes for 106 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hannon.