Carolina Panthers

Red jerseys a no-no for Vinny

CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Vinny Testaverde's going old school.

Per Testaverde's recent request, the Panthers quarterbacks no longer wear red jerseys in practice. That puts them in line with the rest of the roster, and takes away a bit of a stigma that goes along with being considered hands off.

"You know, I'm not one of those guys that wants to be treated different," Testaverde said with a shrug Thursday.

The Panthers have always had their quarterbacks wear the bright red shirts in camps and practice, just so defenders know they're not to make contact. But Testaverde said he's never liked the idea, and likewise lobbied to get rid of them in New England, a move Patriots star Tom Brady sanctioned as well.

"Well, I hadn't worn one in 20 years," Testaverde said. "In fact, when I went to New England last year, I talked with Tom and we got that changed. I hadn't worn one before that.

"It's for injured guys, so when you're out at practice, nobody hits them. That's the concept behind it, not to hit the quarterback. I kept telling the other guys, 'This is the longest I had ever gone wearing a red jersey, we've got to do something about this.'"

He went to coach John Fox about the wardrobe proposal after Thanksgiving, and they've been wearing either the standard black or white practice jerseys (the offense wears whatever color the team will play in each week) ever since.

Combined with his prowess in the weight room -- and that he's led the team to a pair of wins -- the attitude earns the 44-year-old passer credibility with his teammates.

"Hey, he's a football player, too," running back DeShaun Foster said. "Oh yeah, Vinny's a tough-guy quarterback. Any time you're playing with somebody like that, it's fun. He's one of the guys, wearing the same thing we're wearing."

• GETTING CHECKED: Rookie wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett was scheduled to undergo an MRI test to see what's wrong with his bothersome right knee.

He hasn't played since spraining his MCL two weeks ago against New Orleans. Team officials said he tried to practice a bit Wednesday but didn't feel right.

The problem comes at a frustrating time for the second-round pick, as he was finally part of the mix offensively. He's played in four games this year and has six receptions for 73 yards.

General manager Marty Hurney said the move was precautionary, and there was no immediate plan to make a roster move.

"We want to see what's in there," Jarrett said. "As soon as I get better I'll be back."

• LEARNING ON THE FLY: Fox was a rookie coach in 2002 when he hired Jack Del Rio to be his defensive coordinator, then Del Rio left the next year to coach Jacksonville.

The two have posted similar records since then in the regular season, with the Panthers 49-43 (.533) since 2002 and the Jaguars 42-34 (.553) since 2003. The difference is the playoffs, where the Panthers are 5-2 under Fox, while Del Rio lost his only playoff game in 2005.

Fox was asked if he thought his former protégé was ready to take the reins of a team after his one season as a Panther.

"For being a head coach, there really is no head coach manual," Fox said. "So you really never know and I don't think anybody totally understands it until you've sat in that chair. Sometimes there are real experienced guys that don't succeed and sometimes there are less-experienced guys that don't. There is really no exact formula to what makes a good head coach.

• EXTRA POINTS: The Panthers lost defensive end Otis Grigsby, as Minnesota signed him off the practice squad.

Grigsby played in four games for the Panthers this year, recording three quarterback pressures. He was cut three weeks ago (two days before his 27th birthday) when the Panthers fell short at defensive tackle and promoted Gary Gibson to the active roster.

They brought Grigsby back to the practice squad the following week before the Vikings snagged him.

To replace him on the practice squad, the Panthers signed former Mississippi State defensive end Willie Evans, who went to camp with New Orleans and spent a week on their practice squad. He had been in camp with the New York Giants in 2006, and played in NFL Europe last spring.

Jarrett was the only player out of practice, as safety Chris Harris, linebacker Na'il Diggs and Foster came back after taking Wednesday off.

Foster's having fun with the injury report, anyway. He's listed with a "head" injury, but asked reporters Wednesday, "I thought it was my toe?"

When asked Thursday how his head felt, Foster replied, "Attached."

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