Carolina Panthers

Gimpy Testaverde hoping to play this week

Carolina's Vinny Testaverde passes downfield against Arizona three weeks ago.
Carolina's Vinny Testaverde passes downfield against Arizona three weeks ago.

CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde said he was easing into his weekly burden, with the goal of being ready to play Sunday when Atlanta comes to town.

Testaverde missed last week's game at Tennessee because of right Achilles tendinitis (after leaving the Indianapolis game at halftime), but said Wednesday he hopes after taking the time, and working in slowly in practice, he'll be able to go this week and beyond.

"I felt OK," he said. "I will do a little more tomorrow and push it a little harder and see how it responds (Friday). But right now it feels pretty good and I don't expect any setbacks."

He was declared the team's "super, super emergency" quarterback last week, but admitted he was glad he didn't dress for the game. He has little background on such injuries (although he ruptured his left one in 1999), but said trainers have told him rest is the best option for him.

As he walked through the locker room later, he had an ice pack and an electronic stimulation machine strapped to his leg.

The Panthers need him, as the offense has lagged in his absence. He shrugged at that assessment, talking about his responsibility to know the playbook as well as possible so as not to let the team down.

He apparently knew it well enough, as he led the team to 25 points in Arizona days after signing, but they've scored a combined 14 in the two games since (one touchdown on his long drive to start the Colts game).

"Oh yeah, there's no question. I feel 100 percent more comfortable than I did the first week here," Testaverde said. "I think that is only natural with anyone coming in new. I have had time to absorb things and learn the players and learn the system and learn the philosophy."

He said the thing the offense needed most was consistency, which is unintentionally hilarious coming from the fourth quarterback of the year.

"We have the ability and we have the talent," he said. "It's just at the position we've had the most injuries at this year, we need that position to be the most consistent. And usually when you have a bunch of changes and different guys in there, the other guys cannot get that rhythm and get that feel unless somebody is in there for awhile.

"I'm hoping I can stay healthy enough to stay in there and be that guy."

While he found a way to get the ball to Steve Smith against Arizona (he had a season-high 10 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown), Testaverde knows he can't lock in on him moving forward.

"I didn't force things to Steve, but they allowed me to have some opportunities to get the ball to Steve that game," he said. "And anytime you have a player like Steve you want to get the ball to him. But you have to do it in a smart way."

• CARR: CONCUSSED: David Carr was held out of practice, and said he was going to take the cognitive tests required of players who suffer concussions.

He said taking the day off was the team's way of being careful, saying, "But I've felt fine these last two days. Making sure I don't go out there and do something to myself, because I probably would."

Carr's said since Monday he thought he'd be fine this week, though it's unclear if he'd start.

• THINKING ABOUT 55: Defensive end Mike Rucker just shook his head when asked about linebacker Dan Morgan, who was placed on injured reserve, the result of an Achilles tendon injury which will require surgery later this week. As a result, he will have played in 59 of a possible 112 games in his seven seasons because of a variety of injuries.

"My heart really goes out to him, because guys know where his heart's at," Rucker said. "You would think a guy of his stature and the way he carries himself, he would be able to catch a break. It just stinks that he can't.

"To have this back-to-back years, and for a game that you love, that it's like that, it kind of stinks."

• EXTRA POINTS: Coach John Fox headed reporters off at the pass. After reading the names on the injury report, he quickly added, "I'm not going to get into a bunch of who's playing and what-ifs, and all that stuff. "We won't comment on that," he added. "You can ask, but we won't comment on it." ... Carr was one of seven held out of practice, for one reason or another. Smith (team decision) and linebacker Thomas Davis (personal reasons) were held out, but should be back soon. Also missing were right tackle Jordan Gross (ankle), center Justin Hartwig (thumb), wide receiver Keary Colbert (foot) and defensive end Otis Grigsby (thigh). ... After last week's stirring victory over Notre Dame, all Navy men were excited, even though Panthers left guard Mike Wahle said he didn't capitalize fully on the game. "Yeah, let's talk about Navy," he said of the Midshipmen snapping Notre Dame's streak in the series. "Once in 43 years ... and I only made 20 bucks."

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