Carolina Panthers

Jury's still out on how well Carr will hold up

CHARLOTTE -- After today, we'll have a better idea how David Carr responds to a new environment.

But with a limited sample of numbers to compare, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the Carolina Panthers' backup quarterback might still be much like the one who struggled in Houston for five years.

Carr's preseason numbers with the Panthers mirror his career stats with the Texans in several important categories.

His passer rating of 77.6 in four August games tracks closely with his 75.5 career rating. But perhaps the most troubling number is his sack rate, since that's most often cited as the reason he failed with the Texans.

He was dropped 249 times in five years, or once every 9.31 times he dropped back to pass. With the Panthers in the preseason, he was sacked five times, or once every 9.80 times he intended to throw.

Granted, he was working behind the second offensive line most of the time (which might or might not have been worse than what Houston was using). But he was also playing against second defenses. The numbers point to one of the criticisms scouts have of his game -- he hangs onto the ball a little long.

Nevertheless, the Panthers like their chances with Carr much better than past options.

• KING OF THE HILL: Fans clamoring for a reliable second option to wide receiver Steve Smith in the passing game need look no further.

He's there, just not at wideout.

Former fifth-round pick Jeff King is blossoming into a reliable target at tight end, and he's second on the team with 13 catches for 130 yards. He's fourth among NFC tight ends in receptions, and though he's not known for gaining many yards after the catch, he did have a 29-yard gallop last week against the Falcons. He's also handling it in his familiar humble style.

"It's been a good start and anything I can help the team with, I want to do, whether it is blocking or catching balls," King said. "The catches are nice, but the bottom line is that we're winning."

• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers are still able to water their three grass fields (two practice fields and the one inside Bank of America Stadium) despite the water use restrictions put in place by Mecklenburg County last week.

But because of the time of year, they're not using as much water as they have been earlier in the year. Head groundskeeper Tom Vaughan said the Bermuda turf's growth has slowed as temperatures have cooled. They also overseeded the field with rye grass after the last home game, and rye doesn't require as much water. ...

After today, the Panthers will next wear their blue jerseys on Dec. 22 against Dallas. That's largely because they lost the last two meetings with the Cowboys wearing black and white, and frankly, they're a superstitious bunch.