Carolina Panthers

Panthers to be patient with running game

CHARLOTTE -- The Panthers' formula has always been a simple one, but Tennessee is about to make it much harder.

As much as the Panthers want to run, they're facing the league's best run defense this week. The Titans allow an average of 64.3 yards per game on the ground, and three of their opponents haven't broken the 40-yard barrier.

"They're probably the best defense we've faced so far, they're very physical," fullback Brad Hoover said. "They probably have the best consistency.

"We've got to stay our course. We've got to run the ball to set up the pass, and vice versa. For us, it's important that we get off and get moving."

The Panthers have shown a stubborn willingness to run when it's not working well, such as last year's game in Baltimore. They ran 30 times that day, even though they gained just 58 yards against the Ravens (1.9 yards per attempt). They held on for a 23-21 win on the road.

"Yeah, they stop the run well; you have to get in there and keep at it," running back DeShaun Foster said of the Titans. "You just can't get away from running the ball. You've got to stay consistent, keep thumping it up in there. Keep pounding, I think we should be all right."

Foster said he was reminded of the Arizona game, in which they had nine carries for 30 yards at halftime, but finished with 30 for 181 yards, including a 75-yard burst by backup DeAngelo Williams in the fourth quarter.

"Naturally, you want to see some progress," Hoover said. "You don't want to be beating your head against a wall and not going anywhere. It's going to take some discipline to go against a very good defense that plays as sound and physical as they do."

The Titans like to run it as well (since they're not very good throwing), meaning the game could quickly devolve into an old-school clash.

"We're not suited to win shootouts, I can assure you that," Hoover said. "Tennessee, I think in all aspects of the game, they're a reflection of the coach, they want to be physical, and that's what we're trying to do, too.

"If it's going to be one of those games, we won't know until we get there. I think we're suited to play just like they are, that kind of game. So that's what I'm expecting."

• STILL WAITING: Coach John Fox was asked again about rookie receiver Dwayne Jarrett's status, and Fox said the second-round pick was "right on the verge." Jarrett's back to being a game-day inactive after suiting up for two games and catching one pass.

"He's improving," Fox said. "He's a young player. I've said all along he's working he's way through."

When asked what he needed to work on, Fox replied, "I think it's just working at it more. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get. I'll remind everybody, he is a rookie and he's working his way through it."

Jarrett agreed with the coach's assessment, emphasizing that he's trying to work his way into the lineup.

"I'm learning and I'm more comfortable with the offense and I'm taking one day at a time," he said.

Quarterback David Carr said he's talked to Jarrett about the difference from the offense he ran at Southern Cal.

"They didn't ask him to do a whole lot," Carr said. "When you come here and you're trying to break into the top group, you've got to know everything, you've got know everyone's position. That's probably the hardest thing for wide receivers -- they ask them to do every position to see what they're good at.

"If you throw a deep ball to him, he's going to go up and make a play on it. He's just struggling a little bit trying to process everything."

• INJURY UPDATE: Quarterback Vinny Testaverde didn't practice Wednesday, wearing a protective boot on his right foot as he recovers from the Achilles strain he aggravated last week.

Fox wasn't going to elaborate on the condition of the 43-year-old quarterback.

"I probably won't have any idea on that until Friday," he said. "And then I probably won't have any idea after that until Sunday."

The only other player to miss practice was linebacker Dan Morgan (Achilles).

Adam Seward was back, after missing the previous five games with a calf injury. He tried coming back to practice the Wednesday before the New Orleans game, and would have likely started in the middle against the Saints if he'd have stayed well. But he was out of practice the next day, opening the door for rookie Jon Beason.

It's extremely unlikely Seward will get such a chance again.

"He's been in meetings. He's been with us for some time, so he knows the defense and he knows what his assignments are on special teams," Fox said. "It's just a matter now of physically getting him back in football shape and football-ready."