CHARLOTTE -- While it wasn't quite the stampede of years past, almost every out-of-town writer who came to the Carolina Panthers training camp this summer had David Carr scribbled atop their interview request lists.
They all came looking for a quarterback controversy, not convinced that the Panthers were very satisfied with Jake Delhomme. They missed the memo that Carr was here because Chris Weinke struggled in 2006, rather than because Delhomme allegedly did (what with his career low in interceptions).
All those same scribes should come next summer, because that's when Panthers camp will be replete with quarterback storylines.
Delhomme will be coming back from Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm, right at the tail end of the seven- to nine-month window doctors are forecasting.
Carr will have either proven himself ready for a starting job -- here or somewhere else -- or he'll be another tale of a can't miss pick that did.
But the interesting one for the Panthers will be the competition to see who might actually be the future at the position, because incumbent Brett Basanez (coming off a injured throwing wrist himself) and newcomer Matt Moore will be there fighting for the same job.
All four will be in Spartanburg next summer, giving the Panthers perhaps their best depth chart at the spot to date. Delhomme and Moore are under contract through 2009, Carr though 2008, and Basanez is an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he can't go anywhere else.
"It's going to be interesting," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said last week. "I think at this point everybody thinks Jake's going to be back and ready, and we've got some young guys that we like."
The logjam will likely prevent them from bringing in any rookies. They won't draft one, and any decent undrafted passer with a shot will go elsewhere -- as Moore did this year when he scanned the Panthers' roster after the draft.
The competition for the third spot next year is part of the reason the Panthers figure 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde as the perfect fit. He didn't cost the draft pick compensation in trade, and no one expects him to come back next year pushing for anything.
• TOUGH GUY: Don't let the Little Lord Fauntleroy haircut, the California cool or the white gloves fool you. Carr passed his tough-guy test last week, and continues to earn his teammates' respect.
Resident hard-head Brad Hoover lauded Carr's "grit" last week, saying he made quite an impression last week. Carr suffered a painful back injury, but after getting shot up with everything this side of Keith Richards, he came back to direct the win at New Orleans. He'll need it again, after his back tightened during the four-hour flight Friday night, and the team downgraded his status to questionable.
"Oh yeah," running back DeShaun Foster said with a convincing nod when asked if he could tell what kind of pain Carr was in. "Yeah, you could see it on his face. He gutted it out for us, that was good.
"I'm just glad he was able to suck it up enough to get us through the game. Hopefully, he will again."
After practicing Friday, he's expected to.
• HEN AND VIN: The New England factor was often cited as the reason Testaverde could fit here and get caught up quickly.
After all, he's spent parts of the last two years with the Patriots, though he and Panthers coordinator Jeff Davidson were never there at the same time.
He's got more background in the Panthers' old ways, as he was with former coordinator Dan Henning three years in New York with the Jets and spent the 2004 campaign in Dallas, where he was with Henning pal Bill Parcells.
There's obviously been chatter about him here before. When Delhomme was asked last week if he knew the guy who replaced him on the roster, he replied: "No, but Dan talked about him all the time."
Henning probably regaled them with tales of Testaverde's arm strength, which is still quite impressive. It's probably not a stretch to say he's got the best gun on the team right now, perhaps getting a run from loose-armed rookie Moore.
• EXTRA POINTS: Though no one in the organization will go on the record with injury updates, there's a sense in the building that running back Nick Goings (concussion) could be back for the post-bye game against Indianapolis, and linebacker Dan Morgan (Achilles) might not be too far behind.
Co-workers said Morgan was out of the protective cast, but still in a walking boot early last week, with the hope that his injury isn't as drastic as it sounds.
Goings is coming back slowly from what's at least his third concussion, all of which have been big ones. He missed a game after the first in 2003, and was held overnight in a Seattle hospital after taking a cannon-shot to the head in the 2005 NFC Championship Game. ...
Linebacker Adam Seward (calf), the other one who didn't make the trip this weekend, might have the worst timing possible. He'd have started last week's game in the middle if he'd have stayed well. But now that Jon Beason's in there, Seward's not going to get that chance again, barring injury.