No Moore: Panthers holding off on using rookie QB

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- All those Carolina fans chanting "We want Moore" during the Panthers' dismal loss Sunday to New Orleans will have to wait.

During a news conference Monday, embattled coach John Fox said 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde, if healthy, would start next week against San Francisco ahead of struggling David Carr and fan favorite, rookie Matt Moore.

Testaverde was supposed to start against the Saints, too, but was a late scratch due to a sore back.

"I'm almost a little reluctant to name (a starter)," Fox said, referring to Carolina's constantly changing QB scenario. "But I think it would be fair to say if Vinny's healthy, he'll be the guy."

It was fitting that dense fog hovered around Bank of America Stadium on Monday, a day after the Panthers' lowest point of a season that has quickly spiraled out of control, leading to questions about Fox's job security.

Sunday's 31-6 loss to the Saints was Carolina's fifth straight overall and seventh consecutive at home dating to last season. It featured brutal quarterback play from Carr, constant boos from fans and effectively eliminated the Panthers (4-7) from playoff contention.

Carr was so bad -- 10-of-22 for 95 yard, two interceptions and a passer rating of 20.1 -- fans started chanting for Moore late in the first half. Fox eventually yanked Carr after his second interception early in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.

Moore, signed by Carolina after his release by Dallas before the start of the regular season, completed 8 of 14 passes for 66 yards and an interception.

Since the Panthers lost Jake Delhomme to a season-ending right elbow injury in Week 3, they have lost six of eight games and used four quarterbacks.

But Fox doesn't think it's the time to throw the 23-year-old Moore out there, bringing up Oakland's decision not to play No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell so far this season.

"It's a fine line you walk. There's a certain NFL team sitting there with the No. 1 pick in the draft that hasn't had a lot of playing time," Fox said. "Sometimes that might be the worst thing you can do."

Panthers QB comparison:

**David Carr**
2007 statistics
G/GS: 6/4

Att: 136

Comp: 73

Yards: 635

TD/INT: 3/5

Rating: 58.3

**Matt Moore**
2007 statistics
G/GS: 5/0

Att: 22

Comp: 11

Yards: 145

TD/INT: 0/3

Rating: 31.6

**Vinny Testaverde**
2007 statistics
G/GS: 4/4

Att: 118

Comp: 64

Yards: 699

TD/INT: 3/3

Rating: 69.8

But it's hard to envision things getting much worse for the Panthers, who had 195 yards of total offense against the Saints (5-6), who came in with the 27th ranked defense that had been giving up 24.6 points per game.

Carr, the former No. 1 overall pick that was run out of Houston after last season, again appeared skittish in the pocket and had trouble finding receivers downfield.

Carr has three touchdown passes, five interceptions and a passer rating of 58.3 this season. He said after the game he didn't think he's lost the confidence of his teammates. Fox insisted Monday he still believes in Carr - even though he'd rather use Testaverde.

"I've got confidence in anybody we put out there," Fox said. "Obviously we're not doing real well right now with five straight losses. But really maybe the confidence of all of them may be a little shaken, not just the quarterback position."

The defense was far from blameless Sunday, after Drew Brees threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He ran for another score and wasn't sacked.

Defensive end Julius Peppers had an early interception, but was held without a single tackle. Devery Henderson blew past cornerback Ken Lucas -- who had turned to the official trying to call a timeout -- and caught a 33-yard pass that set up the first of the Saints' three straight touchdowns to start the second half.

The listless performance, played out in front of thousands of empty seats, all but mathematically eliminated the Panthers from playoff contention. But the final five games may determine who keeps their jobs for next season.

"It's just horrible. Guys are making mistakes, and it's coming over and over and we're all guilty," said fullback Brad Hoover, who was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1 on the first play of the second quarter. "We're all a team here and we're all accountable for our actions."

Fox agreed everybody was fighting for their jobs -- including himself.

"I think it applies to everybody," Fox said. "And I think everybody understands that."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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