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Panthers rookie QB Clausen expects to battle toe pain all season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen returned to practice Tuesday after missing Monday's practice because of a sore right big toe, an ailment the former Notre Dame star expects to linger throughout his rookie season.

Clausen underwent surgery in January to replace two torn tendons after being injured early last season against Michigan State. Clausen said Tuesday the toe "feels good some days and sore other days" and it's especially painful after games.

Clausen played the entire second half of Saturday's 9-3 loss to the New York Jets, completing 9 of 22 passes for 72 yards with one interception. Clausen appeared to be limping slightly after sitting out Monday's practice.

"As of right now, the doctor says it'll probably be after the season until I feel 100 percent," Clausen said. "I'm just going to have to play through some pain until the season is over. That's just the nature of football."

Clausen, who was injured Sept. 19, said he made it through his junior season by taking pain injections. He still played in all 13 games, throwing 28 touchdown passes and four interceptions. His passer efficiency rating of 161.42 was the third-best in the country.

"To be honest, I didn't know it was as serious as it was until I was getting ready for the (NFL scouting) combine," Clausen said. "I just took shots in my toes and played through it."

Once considered a top-10 draft pick, Clausen's stock soon plummeted with questions about his attitude and leadership. The Panthers took him with the 48th overall pick.

If Matt Moore doesn't get injured or struggle, Clausen might have the chance to rest his toe for most of the season. Clausen has moved past Hunter Cantwell for the No. 2 spot, but Moore appears to have a lock on the starting job despite Carolina's offensive woes during the preseason.

Neither Moore nor Clausen has been able to lead the Panthers to a touchdown in two preseason games.

"I think they've improved each week," coach John Fox said. "I'm not as concerned about that as maybe some people on the outside."

Clausen, who said his toe "felt good" in practice Tuesday, has completed 17 of 37 passes for 152 yards and two interceptions while playing against two of the NFL's top defenses in the Jets and Baltimore Ravens.

"Wish I could have some throws back, especially the last one, the interception," Clausen said of Saturday's game. "It's real good, especially for a young guy like myself, to play against a defense like that. Seeing pressures each and every down, that's the best team to see pressure against. That's all they do, pretty much, them and Baltimore."

Notes: S Sherrod Martin returned to practice after missing the Jets game with a groin injury. ... CB Richard Marshall (knee), DE Tyler Brayton (ankle), CB Captain Munnerlyn (calf), RT Jeff Otah (knee), LB Quinton Culberson (thigh), S Aaron Francisco (hamstring), DE Hilee Taylor (knee), DB C.J. Wilson (head) remained sidelined.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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