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Moore returns as winless Panthers' starting QB after bye

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Things are so bad on offense for the Carolina Panthers that struggling rookie Jimmy Clausen was benched Monday to make way for a quarterback with eight turnovers and a 33.3 passer rating.

Only Matt Moore is hoping a nostalgic film session will help him regain his 2009 form and end Carolina's nightmare start to the season.

The Panthers (0-5) returned from their bye weekend to hear coach John Fox announce in a team meeting that Moore, benched after six turnovers in the first two games, would again take control of the NFL's worst offense in Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers (1-5).

Fox announced the move to reporters in a statement through a team spokesman.

"We have struggled on offense since the beginning of the season," said Fox, whose team is averaging a league-low 10.4 points per game. "Sometimes it helps to step back and watch and Matt has had a chance to do that."

What Moore saw wasn't pretty -- perhaps uglier than his own performance in the first two games.

Clausen, a second-round pick draft from Notre Dame, completed just 47 percent of his passes with one touchdown and three interceptions. Clausen, who struggled to find receivers, also fumbled seven times, losing two, and holds a 52.2 passer rating.

Fox yanked Clausen late in the Panthers' last game, a 23-6 loss to the Chicago Bears on Oct. 10 in which top wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle) was sidelined. Moore quickly threw two interceptions after entering the game.

That left Moore with two touchdown passes, six picks and two lost fumbles this season. But the 26-year-old, who had more time with the starters in practice last week, said he has gained confidence by watching year-old film.

It was Moore's strong end to last season in place of an injured and ineffective Jake Delhomme -- going 4-1 with eight touchdowns and one interception -- that got the veteran released in March.

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"It's a good reminder of what you can do," said Moore, who has completed just 42 percent of his passes this season. "It reminds me, when times are tough, that it can be done. You can do this, and you've made this throw, you've been in this situation, and here's the result."

The Panthers, hopeful Moore was the answer at quarterback after Delhomme threw 18 interceptions in 2009, gave him a one-year, $3.043 million deal as a restricted free agent during the offseason.

But that was before Clausen's arrival and a roster overhaul that left Carolina the NFL's youngest team with an extremely young receiving corps. Opposing teams have consistently loaded the line of scrimmage with extra defenders to stop the run. With Smith often double-covered, the quarterbacks have had few options.

The Panthers have five touchdowns and 16 turnovers this season.

"A big thing for us, and something I'm going to try to stress, is game management," Moore said. "Getting as many yards as you can on first and second down and staying in third-and-short and third-and-reasonable. We've been in third-and-long way too much this year."

Clausen, who has looked uncomfortable in the pocket, wasn't made available to reporters Monday. Fox last week dismissed talk that Clausen's confidence could be shaken if he continued to struggle and the Panthers, off to their worst start in 12 years, continued to lose.

"We didn't win the first two games that I played and a change was made," Moore said. "We haven't won the past three games and a change was made. That's the way this business works."

It's uncertain how many options Moore will have against San Francisco with Smith trying to recover from a high ankle sprain. Carolina's depth chart after Smith includes three rookies and two recent waiver claims.

"I think we can be more precise with our routes," rookie receiver David Gettis said. "Just making plays, catching every single pass that comes our way and being that threat so we can also loosen up the run game."

The next game will perhaps provide Carolina's best chance to win in a while.The 49ers' sloppy 17-9 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday left just the Panthers and Buffalo Bills (0-5) in the NFL's winless club.

"We're trying to find something that works," Moore said. "If this is what it takes, this is what it takes. We're hoping to find a spark, and hopefully we can do that."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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