Carolina Panthers

Foster looks to become next 1,000-yard back

CHARLOTTE -- When you look around the league, it might not be that big of a deal anymore.

But in the world of the Panthers, having a 1,000-yard back remains a sought-after grail.

Starter DeShaun Foster has 675 yards in 10 games, putting him on pace for 1,080 for the season.

After already taking over as the franchise's all-time leader in attempts (777) and yards (3,135), he's set to become just the third to record a four-digit rushing season.

Stephen Davis holds the single-season record with 1,444 in 2003, and Anthony Johnson's 1,120 in 1996 is the only other such season in the team's 13 years.

Getting to 1,000 yards used to be a bigger deal, in 14-game seasons. But now, it's more commonplace, since you need just 62.5 yards per game to hit the benchmark. Last year, 23 backs did it.

• INJURY UPDATE: As happens from time to time with old guys, quarterback Vinny Testaverde's back tightened up overnight Friday, and he's now listed as questionable for today's game.

Earlier this week, coach John Fox said Testaverde would start, as long as he was healthy. Now you know why they're hesitant to say anything.

Also Saturday, they put safety Chris Harris on the report as probable after he came in with an illness.

• VINNY OF THE WEEK: Every week, somebody's marveling about the longevity of Testaverde.

This week's entry is New Orleans coach Sean Payton, who worked with him in 2004 as an assistant coach in Dallas.

He laughed about it last week, since they're basically the same age (Payton is 43).

"I'm not going to say the same draft class because I wasn't drafted, but we are the same age," Payton said.

Many of the same qualities that led the Panthers to proclaim him starter were evident then as well, from his leadership to his physical and mental preparation.

"He is in the weight room, he's running, he does all of the little things well to the point where he is going to be able to throw the football well into his late 50's," Payton said. "He's kept himself in great shape and he has a calming influence on others around him and he prepares very hard."

• HORSE PLAY: Injured Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme has long been in the horse game, but Saints starter Drew Brees has just begun his journey as a horse owner.

Brees is part of a 15-person group called Last Mango Stables LLC (which includes, as you'd figure, singer Jimmy Buffett) that has invested in a 2-year-old thoroughbred colt named Pulaski County. Other investors in the group include ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, along with Payton, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and other team personnel.

"I've seen pictures and I've read e-mails," Brees told reporters there last week. "I don't have time to go to the stables. All I have time for is football."

The horse was purchased in a $50,000 claiming race at Kentucky's Keeneland last month, but made his Louisiana debut Thanksgiving Day at the historic Fair Grounds track. For its first race, Pulaski County wore No. 9, just like Brees, and finished third.

That might make him the favorite in the race for the NFC South title.

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