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Jimmy Clausen has backup plan

5/23/2011

Jimmy Clausen received his degree from Notre Dame over the weekend. Given the fact Clausen’s rookie year was far from spectacular and the Carolina Panthers just used the first overall pick in the draft on Cam Newton, this might have been a wise move for Clausen’s future.

Clausen returned for the spring semester to earn the remaining credits he needed to graduate with the class he entered Notre Dame with. In all seriousness, Clausen’s football career is far from over.

The Panthers still believe he can develop into a quality NFL quarterback and feel he was put in a bad spot last season when John Fox was a lame-duck coach who didn’t want to draft Clausen in the first place. But Clausen’s rookie season didn’t show the Panthers any conclusive evidence he’s a quality starter and that’s why they went out and got Newton.

The Panthers say they’ll let Newton and Clausen compete for the job in training camp. But, if the lockout doesn’t shorten training camp, Newton will probably get every benefit of the doubt and Clausen will be relegated to a backup role.

The Panthers still view Clausen as insurance in case Newton doesn’t adjust well to the NFL. They also see Clausen as a guy who could develop some trade value down the road, like Matt Schaub did when he was backing up Michael Vick in Atlanta.