CHARLOTTE -- Because of the rate at which they've been falling, Carolina Panthers coach John Fox remains hesitant to declare much of anything regarding quarterbacks.
But he said Monday that 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde would likely start this week against San Francisco if he is able, and that he was hesitant to devote too much time to rookie Matt Moore.
"I'm almost a little reluctant to name one," Fox said. "We'll just kind of address that on Wednesday. But it would be fair to say if he's healthy (Testaverde), he'll be the guy."
Testaverde was going to play this week and had practiced all week with the starters, before his back "locked up" overnight and he couldn't participate in the Saturday walk-through.
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That left poor David Carr to take another beating, throwing for just 95 yards and two interceptions in the loss to New Orleans -- dropping his career record as a starter to 23-56, counting his days in Houston. He's 1-3 as the starter in Charlotte, and has accounted for 46 points in 18 quarters.
Fox, like many of the players, is hesitant to put too much blame on Carr, although he's posted a 58.3 passer rating in his six games, which would be 34th in the league if he had enough attempts to qualify.
"I've got confidence in anybody we put out there," Fox said . "Obviously we're not doing real well right now with five straight losses. But really maybe the confidence of all of them may be a little shaken, not just the quarterback position."
Fox also defended his role in Carr's acquisition, disputing the assertion he had nothing to do with it. During the fourth quarter of the Fox network broadcast on Sunday, color analyst Brian Baldinger said hiring Carr was not something Fox was in favor of.
"When Jake Delhomme went down this year, the guy they brought in in relief, David Carr, was not his decision," Baldinger stated, without attribution. "That was done by management."
That flies in the face of the Panthers' philosophy, in which Fox and general manager Marty Hurney discuss (along with the scouting department) all moves before coming to collective decisions.
"I don't know where he got that," Hurney said. "We followed the same process with David we do with every free agent. Ultimately, all personnel decisions come down to me, but John and I do those things in unison.
"I would say that no, that's not true, and I'm sure John would tell you the same thing."
During his day-after press conference, Fox did just that.
"That's not true," Fox said. "Wasn't said by me. Basically, we do every personnel decision around here with a process, and I'm part of that process."
Baldinger said Monday night that he "probably went too far," with the remark, pointing out that "it didn't come from John, and was more of my own take."
"I probably misspoke there, and I'd be willing to offer a retraction or apologize to John for that," Baldinger said. "At that point in the game, I didn't want to trash the guy (Carr), but it is what it is. That move was a mistake, and the position has been terrible since Jake's been out."
And while Carr was benched in favor of Moore in the fourth quarter of the 31-6 blowout, Fox said he wanted to be careful with how he handled the 23-year-old rookie.
"It's a fine line you walk," Fox said. "There's a certain NFL team sitting there with the No. 1 pick in the draft (Oakland's JaMarcus Russell) that hasn't had a lot of playing time. Sometimes that might be the worst thing you can do.
"We think he has promise and he's shown some of those abilities. But we've seen some of the other, too."
He's probably referring to Moore throwing 22 passes and having three intercepted.
"It's experience," Fox said. "It's one thing in the offseason. It's another thing in practice. The game plays so much faster in games. That was valuable experience for him yesterday. He made some errors and he made some good throws.
"That experience helps a young player, no matter what the position, moving forward."
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