NFC South: Jimmy Clausen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- I have ranked the 21 Carolina Panthers who are scheduled to become free agents in March.

As you can imagine, left tackle Jordan Gross and defensive end Greg Hardy are at or near the top of the list. But that will be revealed in time.

Starting today, beginning at the bottom of the ranking, I will list the players and whether they likely will fit into Carolina's future. If you agree or disagree, feel free to let me know.

It's not an exact science, and much will depend on the market, whether the team can find upgrades with free agents from other teams or how much their free agents are demanding.

As we get to the top 11, I'll reveal one at a time. For now we'll go in twos:

20. WR Brandon LaFell: It may surprise you that I have the team's No. 2 receiver so low. Here's why: I don't think he offers enough to be the No. 2 receiver even though he has proven to be a solid blocker and he had a career-best 49 catches last season. I like what Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon offer more as a third or fourth receiver, and both of them are free agents as well. The Panthers likely will address the No. 2 receiver in the draft or free agency, so it's time to part with LaFell. The team needs a more explosive weapon opposite Steve Smith. They also need a future replacement for Smith, who will be entering his 14th season. LaFell hasn't proven worthy of that.

21. QB Jimmy Clausen: He only made this list because he technically is scheduled to become a UFA. He was cut during training camp last season, then reverted back to the team's injured reserve list because he was cut injured. I don't see any interest here unless the team has trouble re-signing backup Derek Anderson or officials simply want bodies for competition in camp. Having said that, they likely will look for new bodies. The team's second-round pick in 2010 hasn't been in a game since his rookie season when he threw nine interceptions to three touchdowns.

Around the NFC South

September, 2, 2013
Time for a look at the top headlines from around the division:


The team signed eight players, including seven that were with the Falcons in the preseason, to the practice squad.


David Newton writes that the rights to Jimmy Clausen, who was waived with an injury designation, have reverted back to Carolina after the quarterback cleared waivers. Clausen automatically goes on the injured reserve list. But the Panthers are likely to release him with an injury settlement.


The Saints signed six players to their practice squad, including former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin.


Ira Kaufman points out that Doug Martin carried the ball only three times in the preseason. No wonder Tampa Bay’s offense looked so stagnant. There’s no doubt Martin will be getting a lot more carries in the regular season because he’s the focal point of this offense.

Carolina Panthers cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
Most significant move: In the world of perception that quarterback is the most important position, the most significant move would be cutting third-stringer Jimmy Clausen, simply because the 2010 second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame was brought in to replace Jake Delhomme. He was waived injured after hurting his shoulder in the preseason finale, but would have been waived regardless.

But in reality it's cornerback Drayton Florence. He was signed to add veteran leadership and experience to a young secondary. He worked with the first team for most of training camp. But the re-emergence of Josh Norman, who led the league with four preseason interceptions, and the solid play of Josh Thomas made the aging defensive back expendable even though he returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown against Baltimore. Norman put himself in position to reclaim a position he lost after starting the first 12 games of his rookie season in 2012. He is an exceptional talent who just needs to refine the little things to potentially become a star. The good news is Carolina's front seven is strong, which should give quarterbacks less time to throw and cover up some of the mistakes the second-year player undoubtedly will make.

Survivor 2011: Defensive tackle Sione Fua was voted off Panther island, leaving quarterback Cam Newton as the only remaining member of Carolina's 2011 draft class on the active roster. That doesn't speak well for what the staff thought of former general manager Marty Hurney's selections.

The others from that class were: DT Terrell McClain, third round pick, released in 2012; CB Brandon Hogan, fourth-round pick, waived from IR in 2012; WR Kealoha Pilares, fifth-round pick, on injured reserve; LB Lawrence Wilson, sixth-round pick, released in 2011; G Zack Willliams, sixth-round pick, released 2013.

Team moves: Waived injured -- QB Jimmy Clausen, S D.J. Campbell, WR David Gettis, S Anderson Russell. Waived -- OT Garrett Chisolm, DT Sione Fua, TE Zack Pianalto, WR James Shaw, WR Brenton Bersin, G Hayword Hicks, LB Doug Hogue, S Robert Lester, LB Ben Jacobs, RB Tauren Poole, TE Dominique Curry, WR Taulib Ikharo, G Tori Mobley, DE Craig Roh, DT Casey Walker. Terminated vested veterans -- OT Patrick Brown, CB Drayton Florence, LB Jason Williams.

What's next: Depth remains an issue on the offensive line and secondary, so general manager Dave Gettleman will be scanning the waiver wire for help in both areas. Gettleman also might be on the lookout for a serviceable running back with Jonathan Stewart on PUP for at least five games. The release of Tauren Poole leaves DeAngelo Williams and fullback Mike Tolbert (hamstring) as the only experienced backs. After that you're down to rookie Kenjon Barner and second-year player Armond Smith. But to narrow this to any position might be unwise. Gettleman has a reputation of going with the best players regardless of position.

No surprise: QB Jimmy Clausen cut

August, 31, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Not surprising, reserve quarterback Jimmy Clausen was cut by the Carolina Panthers on Saturday.

The Panthers haven't released their official list of cuts to get to 53 players, but Clausen made his release official on Twitter.

To which backup quarterback Derek Anderson responded:

With Clausen gone, the Panthers will go with two quarterbacks: Cam Newton and Anderson. This was expected in part because new general manager Dave Gettleman came from a New York Giants organization that traditionally kept two.

The Panthers also needed to make room for depth on the offensive line, wide receiver and running back. Clausen started 10 games as a rookie and went 1-9. He hasn't started a regular-season game the past two years playing behind Newton and Anderson, and he wasn't spectacular during the preseason.

Observation deck: Panthers-Steelers

August, 29, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Starting quarterback Cam Newton wore some form of skull cap instead of his signature towel Thursday night as he played spectator in the Carolina Panthers' 25-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Well, it was terribly humid for a towel.

Otherwise, here are my thoughts on the preseason finale.
  • Two quarterbacks enough. Derek Anderson proved why he is the easy choice to back up Newton and why third-stringer Jimmy Clausen is expendable. Anderson completed his first five passes and finished an efficient 10-for-15 for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He even had an ill-advised scramble for 9 yards.
  • Who are these guys? There may be more depth at wide receiver than expected. Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon made good cases to be the third receiver behind Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell. Ginn caught five passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns, including an 87-yarder in which he blistered the Pittsburgh secondary. Hixon caught four passes for 44 yards, including a nice 23-yard third-down grab on the sideline.
  • Secondary question. Carolina needs its front seven, most of whom barely played, to have a big season to cover up soft spots in the secondary. Most of those spots are in the middle, where reserve Steelers tight end David Paulson looked like a Pro Bowler in the first half.
  • Who needs camp? Travelle Wharton moved right into the lineup at left guard after only three practices and held his own. Not bad for the former and now current Panther who hadn't played in more than a year while recovering from a knee injury.
  • Playmaker: Corner Josh Norman needs to be on the field. He had his fourth interception of the preseason, returning this one 70 yards.
  • What it all means: Absolutely nothing. Except Carolina has its first winning preseason record (3-1) since 2006.
  • What's next: Roster cuts to 53 on Saturday, but don't expect a major surprise -- unless you consider Clausen a surprise. Time to get ready for the Sept. 8 opener against the Seattle Seahawks, who will give Carolina a big test on both sides of the ball right away.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Whether Jimmy Clausen makes the final 53-man roster for the Carolina Panthers remains in doubt.

But Clausen has nothing to be ashamed of, at least when you compare him to the top four quarterbacks selected in the 2010 NFL draft -- Sam Bradford No. 1, Tim Tebow No. 25 (1st), Clausen No. 48 (2nd) and Colt McCoy No. 85 (3rd).

It's less than stellar.

Of those four selected in the first three rounds -- we could look deeper but it doesn't get any better -- only Bradford with the St. Louis Rams is a starter. Only Clausen remains with the team that drafted him.

The combined record of these four is a dreadful 30-56-1. Tebow, 9-7 including a playoff win with Denver, is the only one with a winning record, and he's in danger of not making the cut at New England. Bradford is 15-26-1.

Again, less than stellar.

But let's focus on Clausen. Carolina coach Ron Rivera made it clear that veteran Derek Anderson will be Cam Newton's backup for the third straight season. Rivera was vague when asked if Clausen would remain the third quarterback again, saying it will come down to numbers.

The numbers put Clausen at risk because of injuries on the offensive line and a group of unproven players behind the top two receivers which is likely to force the Panthers to keep more numbers there.

Then there's new general manager Dave Gettleman. He came from a New York Giants organization that had a history of keeping only two quarterbacks.

None of this bodes well for a third-string quarterback with a 1-9 record as a starter.

"All I can ask for is an opportunity," said Clausen, who has completed 9 of 17 pass attempts for 93 yards and no touchdowns in the preseason. "When my name gets called to go out there, I have to be ready to execute. That's the biggest thing is to execute, make good decisions and move the chains."

Clausen likely will get that chance in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With starter Cam Newton unlikely to play more than one or two series -- if at all based on last year's finale in which he didn't dress -- Clausen and Anderson will carry the bulk of the load.

Unfortunately for Clausen, that will come with backups and backups to backups. So it's doubtful anything he does will make a huge difference regarding whether Carolina keeps him or not.

"That's a question for the GM and the head coach," Clausen said. "That's not for me to decide. All I'm worried about is practicing and trying to help the team get better, and just play my role on the team."

Whether Clausen will be on the team remains to be seen.

Around the NFC South

August, 26, 2013
Time for a morning run through the top headlines from around the division:


Rookie cornerback Robert Alford played a team-high 84 percent of the defensive snaps in the preseason game with Tennessee. Part of that was because starter Asante Samuel left early with an injury. But, more than anything, the Falcons wanted to take a long look at Alford because he’s in line for a lot of playing time.


Joseph Person writes that Jimmy Clausen likely will be the odd man out if the Panthers decide to carry only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. The Panthers carried three quarterbacks in each of the past two seasons with coach Ron Rivera. But general manager Dave Gettleman comes from the New York Giants, a team that usually carries only two quarterbacks.

Receiver Domenik Hixon is ready to play in the preseason final. Hixson has been sidelined by a hamstring injury. He once appeared to be the leading candidate to be the third receiver. Now, he’s fighting for a roster spot.


Jeff Duncan writes that the rookie class could be special, and that as many as 12 first-year players could make the roster. The Saints haven’t always given their rookies a lot of playing time in recent years. But that figures to change this season. Safety Kenny Vaccaro and receiver Kenny Stills look like they’ll be seeing a lot of action.


Coach Greg Schiano gave a mixed review of Josh Freeman’s play in the preseason game with Miami, saying the quarterback saw things well. I think Schiano is being too generous. Freeman never got into any sort of rhythm in his most extensive playing time of the preseason.

What to watch: Panthers-Ravens

August, 22, 2013
Three things to watch as the Carolina Panthers play the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN:

Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen. Newton will get his most extensive playing time of the preseason, and the Panthers hope he and the offense can get in a rhythm. Newton has led only one touchdown drive this preseason. Clausen is expected to play with the second team. That’s not a sign that Clausen has a chance to beat out Derek Anderson for the backup job. It’s more of a sign that the Panthers want to take a good look at Clausen before deciding if they want to carry two or three quarterbacks on the roster.

The receivers. Armanti Edwards, Domenik Hixon and Joe Adams aren’t expected to play due to injuries. That means more playing time for Ted Ginn Jr. and David Gettis, who are having strong preseasons and have a chance to be among the top backups at receiver.

Garry Williams. He’s been getting the first-team work at right guard since the team released veteran Geoff Hangartner. Williams needs a strong showing because it still is possible the team could bring in a veteran as other teams trim their rosters.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Statistically, Panthers third-string quarterback Jimmy Clausen has outplayed starter Cam Newton and backup Derek Anderson in the first two preseason games -- although that's not saying much.

Clausen has a quarterback rating of 70.4, compared to 67.9 for Newton and 61.5 for Anderson.

To put those numbers in perspective, Baltimore backup Tyrod Taylor has a rating of 106.4.

There's a good possibility Clausen will get to work with the second team in the third quarter of Thursday's game to see just where he's at, but don't look for Carolina's 2010 starter to get embroiled in a battle for the backup job.

Anderson remains the first option.

Around the NFC South

August, 21, 2013
Time for a run through the top headlines from around the division:


Tight end Tony Gonzalez re-joined the Falcons after missing most of training camp. Gonzalez, who had been spending time with his family in California, said he had all the practice installations sent to his iPad and is up to speed on the playbook. Gonzalez is expected to get extensive playing time in this week’s preseason game


Jonathan Jones reports that quarterback Jimmy Clausen might work with the second team offense during Thursday night’s preseason game. I think veteran Derek Anderson still is set as the top backup to Cam Newton, but the Panthers might want to give Clausen an extended look.


Receiver Marques Colston has practiced the last two days. But Colston said he has not fully recovered from a foot injury. I don’t expect to see much of Colston in the remaining two preseason games. The priority is to have Colston ready for the regular season. He already knows the offense well and the Saints need to look at some of their young receivers.


The Bucs are expecting to give their starters extended playing time in Saturday’s preseason game at Miami. We haven’t seen a lot of the starters in the first two preseason games. The preseason doesn’t mean much. But, still, it would be comforting for fans to see quarterback Josh Freeman and the first offense at least get into some sort of rhythm.

NFC South backup QB situations

July, 22, 2013
With NFC South teams heading to training camp later this week, let’s take a look at the backup quarterback situations around the division.

Aside from Carolina, where Derek Anderson seems set as Cam Newton’s backup, nothing else is definite.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After some awkward moments early in the offseason, coach Greg Schiano finally made it clear that Josh Freeman is the team’s starter. But the competition for the backup job could be one of the most intriguing things in training camp. Rookie Mike Glennon will compete with veteran Dan Orlovsky for the backup job. If Glennon can beat out Orlovsky, he could be looking at playing time if Freeman gets off to a bad start.

Atlanta Falcons. The team is high on Dominique Davis, who looked great in the preseason last year. But the Falcons traditionally have carried a veteran as Matt Ryan’s backup. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Falcons bring in a veteran from elsewhere later in the preseason.

New Orleans Saints. Chase Daniel is gone and the Saints have veterans Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace and rookie Ryan Griffin on the roster behind Drew Brees. It’s likely the Saints will keep only one of the veterans and they could keep Griffin around as a developmental project.

Carolina Panthers. Anderson probably is the division’s best backup. Jimmy Clausen, who started in 2010, is a distant third on the depth chart as he heads into the final year of his contract.

Around the NFC South

July, 9, 2013
Time for a run through the top headlines from around the division:


D. Orlando Ledbetter continues his list of the top 25 Falcons with defensive end Kroy Biermann at No. 17. The Falcons have invested a lot of recent draft picks in defensive ends and they want to get them on the field. That could lead to Biermann getting time in a hybrid role because he can play both end and linebacker.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter hinted that running back Steven Jackson probably won’t get a lot of carries in the preseason games. That makes a lot of sense because the Falcons need the veteran healthy and ready for the regular season. Backup Jacquizz Rodgers still is proving himself and could benefit from additional carries in the preseason.


Max Henson has an overview of the situation at quarterback. Cam Newton is set as the starter with Derek Anderson as the top backup. The most intriguing thing here could be the competition for the No. 3 spot. Jimmy Clausen was the starter in 2010, but hasn’t appeared in a game since. He’ll be competing with undrafted rookie Colby Cameron for the final roster spot.


A former NFL player is suing the Washington Redskins and former assistant coach Gregg Williams, saying they used a bounty program that resulted in his career-ending injury. Williams later came to the Saints and the NFL has said he ran a three-year bounty program that resulted in the suspension of Williams and others last year. The Saints’ bounty scandal appears to be over, but this news makes you wonder if the team could face some legal issues in the future.


Running back Doug Martin sounded unimpressed after meeting NBA legend LeBron James.
Matt McGloin is going to this weekend’s Carolina Panthers minicamp on a tryout basis. He is a long shot to even get a roster spot.

But I’m not going to write off McGloin because way too many people have done that in the past and ended up being very wrong.

If you don’t know McGloin’s story, it’s worth running through now. Since high school, people have been telling McGloin he doesn’t have the necessary arm strength or size.

I don’t know McGloin, but I’ve followed his career closely since his days at West Scranton (Pa.) High because that’s about 15 miles from where I grew up. My nephew was a class behind McGloin in high school.

When McGloin went to Penn State University as a walk-on, I, like a lot of people, thought that would be the last we’d ever hear of him. Fact is, he is short and the arm strength isn’t great.

But there’s something special about McGloin. Call it intangibles, call it moxie or whatever you want. The guy somehow worked his way into the starting quarterback job at Penn State, something never before accomplished by a walk-on at that school.

McGloin was pretty ordinary at first. But when things started crumbling at Penn State due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, McGloin became a rock. As other highly-touted players were transferring away and Penn State was going through its first coaching change in about 50 years, McGloin held the program together. He turned in a record-setting senior year as Penn State recorded a very respectable season.

With the Panthers, McGloin’s walking into a situation where Cam Newton is the unquestioned starter. The Panthers also have veteran backups in Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen. They also have Colby Cameron.

The odds are long. But the Panthers have salary-cap issues and Anderson and Clausen are making decent money. If McGloin can show a little of the heart he showed at Penn State, maybe the Panthers will decide to keep him around and give him a shot to stick as the third quarterback or on the practice squad. His chances aren't great, but McGloin has overcome longer odds in the past.

Panthers add undrafted rookies

April, 30, 2013
The Carolina Panthers announced Tuesday morning that they have agreed to terms with 13 undrafted rookies.

The list is headed by Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron, who might have a chance to compete with Jimmy Clausen for the No. 3 spot.

The rest of the list includes Rice tight end Taylor Cook, Sam Houston State receiver Trey Diller, Southern California defensive end Wes Horton, South Carolina linebacker Damario Jeffrey, East Carolina guard Robert Jones, Alabama defensive back Robert Lester, Abiline Christian kicker Morgan Lineberry, Jacksonville State guard Tori Mobley, Michigan defensive end Craig Roh, Oklaohma defensive tackle Casey Walker, Louisiana Lafayette defensive back Melvin White and Penn State fullback Mike Zordich.

Ranking the needs: Quarterbacks

April, 22, 2013
We continue our pre-draft rankings of position-group needs with the quarterbacks.

Remember, the earlier the ranking, the greater the need.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Josh Freeman is entering a “prove-it" season. What if he starts off poorly? I can’t see the Bucs turning things over to Dan Orlovsky for the long term. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Bucs draft a quarterback any time after the first round.

Atlanta Falcons: They’re set with Matt Ryan as the starter and they’re high on the potential of Dominique Davis. But I’m not sure Davis is ready to be the No. 2 guy. The Falcons could try to draft a backup, but I think it’s more likely they’ll sign a veteran after the draft.

Carolina Panthers: They appear to be in good shape with Cam Newton as the starter and Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen behind him. But I’m curious as to why I repeatedly have been hearing the Panthers have done an inordinate amount of homework on Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees will have a new backup with Chase Daniel gone. It looks like veterans Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace will compete for that job. But it might not be a bad idea for the Saints to take a shot on a project later in the draft. McCown and Wallace are only short-term solutions and Brees can’t play forever.