Carolina Panthers

QB continues to be Panthers' Achilles heel

CHARLOTTE -- The Carolina Panthers' quarterback position has been their Achilles heel all season, so Vinny Testaverde just gave it a literal twist Sunday.

The 43-year-old Testaverde had to abandon his starting job at halftime with an onset of tendinitis in his right Achilles, which left the job to David Carr. There's no long-term prognosis yet (and there won't be today, either), but Testaverde said the problem didn't respond to treatments the way it had before.

"During the game, I stepped up in the pocket real good and I felt it," he said. "As the game continued, it tightened up on me and I had trouble pushing off. When I threw it at the end of the half to Steve Smith on the sidelines, I thought I should have completed it easily, but I couldn't step into the throw. I knew it was hurt pretty bad then.

"I was trying to get through to see what we could do with it at halftime. Usually with some heat and ice, it responds, but it didn't respond well after the half was over."

Testaverde said he had taken a shot to his right calf two weeks ago in Arizona, which caused the problem Sunday.

"I think everything drained down, which probably created the tendinitis," he said. "If we can get the knot out of the calf, then I think everything will dissipate."

Testaverde tore his left Achilles in 1999 when he was with the N.Y. Jets and was lost for the season.

While he wasn't exactly on fire Sunday, he did provide the Panthers with their lone offensive note of the day, an 18-play touchdown drive to open the game that had them believing for a moment. He was 5-of-7 for 46 yards on that possession, added a 6-yard run on what appeared to be a designed keeper (the Colts had abandoned the middle), and converted five straight third downs to give them a 7-0 lead after 11 minutes and a second.

Of course, he also threw an interception in the end zone in the second quarter to kill an opportunity, saying he thought he'd find an open Keary Colbert but for a shove from a Colts linebacker.

• INJURY UPDATE: Fourth cornerback Curtis Deloatch went down with a scary-looking left knee injury on the last play of the third quarter, and was hauled off the field.

He was in a huge thigh-to-ankle brace after the game, and said he'd have an MRI this morning to see how bad the injury actually was.

• DRIVE ON: The opening drive was their longest of the year in terms of plays, and just the ninth time they had a possession cover more than 10 plays all season.

The previous high was the 13-play mess at the end of the Houston game, and they had four previous 12-play possessions this year.

• EXTRA POINTS: Former starting quarterback Jake Delhomme was back on the sideline, his right arm in a sling. Many injured players aren't allowed down there, but the Panthers want Delhomme there to help the quarterbacks. ...

Backup offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner got another kickoff return chance in the fourth quarter, gaining 16 yards but failing to throw down the spin move his teammates were challenging him to perform. They were previously undefeated when he returned a kick, after his 10-yarder in Arizona. ...

The Panthers deactivated the usual suspects in linebackers Dan Morgan and Adam Seward, defensive ends Otis Grigsby and Charles Johnson, offensive linemen Evan Mathis and Frank Omiyale and wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett. Rookie Matt Moore was the third quarterback. ...

The Colts deactivated three starters among their eight: Wide receiver Marvin Harrison, left tackle Tony Ugoh and weakside linebacker Freddy Keiaho. ...

Four of the city's top sports executives caught up on the field during pregame warm-ups.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and son/team president Mark Richardson chatted with Charlotte Bobcats owner Bob Johnson and team president Fred Whitfield for several minutes before the game.

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