Carolina Panthers

Panthers actually have QB depth

CHARLOTTE -- There was a strange sight on the Carolina Panthers' practice field Wednesday -- three healthy quarterbacks whose names we knew.

Vinny Testaverde and David Carr were able to work as the team prepares for this week's trip to Green Bay, giving coach John Fox something he hasn't had in some time -- alternatives as to who should start.

Fox didn't want to say too much about what order he'd put them in. Being superstitious, he's probably afraid to say it and then have one hit by a bus on the way to work.

"We are truly day-to-day," Fox said. "We've got better options than we did a week ago and we'll evaluate that as the week goes on. I don't want to make a declaration now and have to change it in a day or two based on some unforeseen problem."

Of course, it might not hurt to figure out who's going to play, so the offense might have some degree of continuity this week. Since starter Jake Delhomme left the Sept. 23 game at Atlanta with a season-ending elbow injury, the Panthers have scratched together four touchdown passes (three from Carr in parts of five games, one from Testaverde in parts of three).

Carr didn't talk to reporters and Testaverde merely said what he always says, that he prepares to start each week, since circumstances can change so quickly.

"Sure," he replied when asked if there was a benefit to knowing. "Whether it's quarterback, running back or whatever. Going through the week, you like to know who the guys around you are going to be, just to get a feel for who's playing next to you.

"But if someone's injured, the next guy has to come in and play at a high level. The teams that are able to handle those situations well are the teams that are successful."

• INJURY UPDATE: Four players were held out of practice, with wide receiver Steve Smith (leg) and running back DeShaun Foster (toe), joining safety Deke Cooper (shoulder) and defensive tackle Damione Lewis (shoulder).

Cornerback Ken Lucas (hip) was limited after taking a hard fall late in last week's loss to Atlanta.

Lucas was trying to curry favor with Fox when asked about his injury.

"Who said I hurt my hip?" he said with a grin.

The injury report did.

"For real? Then why was I out there practicing then?" he laughed. "I hurt it on the second-to-last play of the game when I hurt it on the slant against Atlanta. I thought it would be something that would pass over, but it hurts a little bit more than I thought it would."

Lucas said considering the way Packers quarterback Brett Favre's playing, he has no choice but to play if at all possible.

"Right now our backs are against the wall," Lucas said. "I had a shoulder injury earlier in the season and I toughed it out. I'm going to try to do the same thing this week."

• THEY'VE GOT THAT GOING FOR THEM: The Panthers won't have to worry about the elements this weekend, as the forecast for central Wisconsin is for partly cloudy skies and a high of 44 degrees Sunday.

"I'm not sure the weather is up there at the top of my worries," Fox said.

• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers filled the open spot on their 53-man roster by promoting safety C.J. Wilson from the practice squad. Wilson, their seventh-round pick, was a converted cornerback from Baylor, who's more of a free safety than anyone who can help in run support. The spot came when they released quarterback Drew Olson, who they signed last week as insurance.

Wilson's addition means all eight members of this year's draft class are on the active roster, although linebacker Jon Beason's the only starter. ... To fill the practice squad vacancy, they signed running back DeCori Birmingham, who has bounced around in five different camps and NFL Europe, but was most recently on the Indianapolis practice squad. ... They had previously put fullback Billy Latsko back on the practice squad, after he was promoted and cut last week to make room for the quarterback shuffle.

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