CHARLOTTE -- Panthers' quarterback Vinny Testaverde acknowledged Wednesday what has become obvious -- painfully to him.
He simply wasn't physically ready -- nor was he prepared otherwise -- for what the Panthers ultimately asked of him.
He's back to practice this week after taking last week off, when he was too sore to throw effectively, but he knows that the starting job belongs to Matt Moore now.
That doesn't necessarily upset him, since he came here to back up anyway, not signing up for taking the starting job on a full-time basis. They were hoping to use him in short bursts as David Carr's backup, but when Carr coughed up the job, it belonged to the 44-year-old veteran as long as he could bear it. That proved to be up until two weeks ago, when he played his worst game against Jacksonville. He's started six games, the most of any Panthers quarterback this year, but couldn't get more than two in a row before his aches and pains necessitated a week off.
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"I know how tough it is to get through a whole year, just the pounding you take, what you go through each week, the grind that it is," Testaverde said. "But thinking back to when I first got here, I really thought I was coming in here as a backup to David, and I wound up getting in there. After five weeks of doing no football activity, I had a little trouble with my Achilles, and made it tough.
"It is what it is. I just try to deal with it day to day."
He's still moving slowly, but the rest last week probably has him ready to relieve Moore if need be this weekend against Dallas.
"A little banged up, still," Testaverde said of his condition. "But Matt played great last week, and he's getting another opportunity this week, and he did some good things.
"I'd like to see him continue to play well. Obviously he played well enough to give our team a chance to win. If I happen to be called upon, I think I can go in there and do the same."
• NO NEWS, ... : Right tackle Jordan Gross joked earlier this year when he replaced an injured Jake Delhomme that he was happy to be the "third-place captain." He had a similar grin Wednesday when he was named a third-alternate for the Pro Bowl.
But he knows the big payoff -- and pay-day -- is coming, as he's two games from becoming an unrestricted free agent. That means a contract worth north of $7 million a year if you look at his value compared to recent free agent linemen.
He said he's actually relieved the topic of his impending free agency hasn't been a bigger issue this season.
"It's been nice; I really haven't had a whole bunch of questions about it," Gross said. "It hasn't been an issue all season long. During camp, people asked me about it. I've always said it'll get done when it gets done. After the season, we'll have more time to work on it."
• EXTRA POINTS: While Dallas put 11 players in the Pro Bowl, the Panthers were shut out completely.
Wednesday, they announced they had just three players named as alternates for the game: Gross, left guard Mike Wahle and kicker John Kasay. All three were third alternates, meaning they have next to no chance to go to Hawaii.