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Injuries claim Panthers QB Moore, LB Connor for season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers' miserable year took an even darker twist Monday when tests revealed starting quarterback Matt Moore has a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and will require season-ending surgery.

Moore was injured when Saints defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis drove Moore's right shoulder into the turf on a sack during the second quarter of New Orleans' 34-3 rout on Sunday. In the last year of his contract and after failing to move the Panthers except in their lone victory this season, Moore might have played his last game in Carolina.

Coach John Fox's reluctance to commit to struggling Jimmy Clausen over fellow rookie Tony Pike as Moore's replacement further illustrated his predicament as the Panthers (1-7) flirt with being one of the lowest-scoring teams in NFL history.

"The two quarterbacks on the roster, we'll take a look at them this week and decide who gives us the best chance to win," Fox said.

To make matters worse, the only bright spot for the Panthers this season -- the defense -- took its own hits. Starting middle linebacker Dan Connor is lost for the season after breaking his hip Sunday, and the team has decided not to bring back weakside linebacker Thomas Davis this season from his second major knee surgery in a year.

Fox also confirmed Jonathan Stewart sustained a concussion Sunday and gave no timetable for fellow running back DeAngelo Williams' return from a foot injury.

The Panthers can't seem to hit bottom.

Moore's injury might end a stunning fall after he finished 4-1 as a replacement last season, leading to Carolina's decision to release seven-year starter Jake Delhomme. This season, Moore threw five touchdowns, 10 interceptions, lost two fumbles and had a passer rating of 55.6 this season.

And he's been Carolina's best QB.

Fox yanked Clausen, the second-round pick from Notre Dame, shortly after he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Jabari Greer on Sunday. Clausen has one touchdown pass, four interceptions, two lost fumbles and a 48.0 passer rating.

Pike, a sixth-round pick from Cincinnati, took over and was 6-for-12 for 47 yards against the Saints.

None of the three QBs led the Panthers into the end zone Sunday, leaving them with 88 points at the halfway point of the season. Failing to reach double digits in points in half their games, they're on pace to score 176 points. That's not far off from the pace that would leave them in the top five for fewest points in a season since the 16-game schedule was adopted in 1978.

"We're just out of sorts a little bit," Fox said. "Whether it be somebody seeing the right read, turning the protection the right way, throwing the ball accurately. A variety of things that have occurred to us offensively, not just at the quarterback position."

While Fox said signing another quarterback is unlikely because "I'm not sure there's a huge list available right now," he's ready to experiment.

Fox said third-round pick Armanti Edwards, a college quarterback at Appalachian State who had been converted to receiver, would get some snaps at QB in practice this week.

"If we did not bring in another quarterback, he would be the next best emergency quarterback that we have," he said.

The embattled Fox also has problems at linebacker. Connor was playing well in his first full season as a starter. Davis, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in June, was hoping to come off the physically unable to perform list by Wednesday's deadline.

"It's been 5½ months and I think in his best interest I wouldn't want to rush that and risk another injury," Fox said on the decision to place Davis on injured reserve.

Davis agreed with the assessment, and he is confident Carolina will re-sign him.

"It was a joint decision and ultimately, and I appreciate them for this, they left it up to me," Davis said at halftime of Monday's San Antonio-Charlotte NBA game. "They left me the option of whether I wanted to do it and I made the decision to go ahead and shut it down."

The speedy weakside linebacker was having a breakout season in 2009 when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in a November game against New Orleans. He was making a rapid recovery seven months later -- clocked at 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- when he suffered the same injury during a June workout.

The Panthers didn't put him on IR, and Davis had said he was determined to play this season despite Carolina (1-7) being in the midst of a terrible season. Davis acknowledged his knee still isn't 100 percent.

"It's very tough. I know how much hard work I've put in," Davis said. "But even bigger than that, I know how much I want to be out there with my teammates week in and week out. I think of how much work we've put in to get this thing going and it's just not happening right now."

The move means Davis will enter free agency not only with the uncertainty surrounding the expiring collective bargaining agreement, but not having played in more than a year.

Davis believes he will be in Carolina next season.

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"That was a concern going in, but I know what I'm capable of," Davis said. "I have the utmost respect for the organization, and I feel like they're going to do a great job of handling the free agency situation. I've pretty much been assured by them that I'm going to be a Panther, so I hope that it all works out."

Asked if staying in Carolina was what he wanted, Davis didn't hesitate.

"Definitely," he said.

Fox indicated Jon Beason would likely move back to middle linebacker with Jordan Senn a candidate to start at weakside.

The roster shifting means more headaches for Fox, who tried to backtrack from a day earlier when he seemed to blame the front office for offseason moves that slashed payroll and left Carolina as the NFL's youngest team.

"That by no means is an indictment of our personnel by any stretch," Fox said. "I like our football team. I wish we were playing better."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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