Carolina Panthers

Carr can't get offense on track

The Panthers' David Carr is upended by Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber during the second quarter.
The Panthers' David Carr is upended by Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber during the second quarter.

CHARLOTTE -- They can't blame this one on Chris Weinke and Randy Fasani.

The Carolina Panthers' latest backup quarterback fared no better than the previous incarnations Sunday, as David Carr did not much at all in his debut, a 20-7 loss to Tampa Bay.

The $3 million a year backup, who was signed to avoid such disasters, instead contributed to the latest sinking. The Panthers are now 1-5 since 2002 in games started by the backup quarterback, Carr's now 22-54 as a starter, and there are plenty of reasons why.

Carr was 19-of-41 passing for 155 yards. A touchdown with 23 seconds left helped him avoid the shutout, and balanced the ledger against his earlier interception.

In fact, 69 of his passing yards and 11 of his 28 rushing yards came on that frantic, final, meaningless drive.

"Definitely rust," Carr said. "I don't know if it was just me, but going with the new group, I definitely could have felt better. That is just going to come with working with the guys and knowing which way they are going to be and knowing where they are going to be in their routes. That is something that takes time."

There were a number of moments when Carr didn't appear to be on the same page with his receivers, notably Steve Smith, who was held to five catches for 32 yards.

Smith said he wasn't talking after the game, but coach John Fox admitted, involving his star was going to be a priority.

"The defense has a lot to do with that; you have to give them some credit," Fox said of Smith's limited contributions. "Last week he had one catch and we had 27 points. Today, I don't know how many catches he had, but we didn't produce enough around him.

"There is no doubt we try to get him the ball. We just didn't do that very well today."

Carr was also sacked three times, extending the problems that plagued him in Houston, when he was dropped 249 times in five years. He threw plenty of passes away, but not enough to the right guys.

And with starter Jake Delhomme's status still up in the air (he dressed but was inactive because of a right elbow strain), Carr knows the burden's on him to improve.

"We lost, we didn't get the ball to guys," Carr said. "We made a couple of plays, but we didn't make enough against this football team to win.

"As the quarterback, I take responsibility for it. I could have made more plays to those guys and put us in a position to win."