Clausen won’t part with No. 2 jersey to appease Newton

Quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn University stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL football Draft in New York, April 28, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Suddenly, I have more respect for Jimmy Clausen.

A couple of days ago, a news (and I use that word loosely here) story broke that first overall pick Cam Newton wants to wear No. 2 in the pros, just as he did at Auburn. The problem is that number already belongs to Clausen, who told the media on Tuesday that he wasn’t willing to give it up.

“It’s mine right now,” Clausen told the Charlotte Observer. “We’ll see what happens.”

Apparently Clausen hinted that he’s willing to give up the number if Newton was willing to pay for it. Considering Newton will receive a huge signing bonus once the lockout ends, a number of people in Clausen’s shoes would probably do the same thing.

Hey rookie, if you want the number, pony up for it.

Based on what I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like Newton demanded Clausen to give up the number like some are suggesting. He was probably asked if he wanted to wear No. 2 in the pros and he answered yes. He may have not even known that Clausen wore that number last year.

But if this does become an issue, you have to wonder if that scathing report that Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki wrote back in March is starting to come to fruition.

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Panthers’ GM Hurney the last one to still believe in Clausen?

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen steps away from Pittsburgh Steelers Lawerence Timmons but Steelers Ziggy Hood delivers the sack and a lost of seven yards in the fourth quarter of the 27-3 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 23, 2010. UPI/Archie Carpenter’s Don Banks is reporting that Panthers’ GM Marty Hurney is the only member of the team’s front office or coaching staff who still has faith in Jimmy Clausen as a potential starter.

Banks writes, “Everyone else in Carolina, and many coaches and personnel men around the league for that matter, thinks the Panthers have to draft a franchise quarterback this year.”


For those who watched Clausen play last year, this is hardly surprising news. But even though I’m not a believer myself, for God’s sake he only started 10 games last year and it’s not like he had much around him. He was absolutely horrible, I know. But is it just me or do other young players usually get the benefit of the doubt at this stage in their career?

That said, I do think the Panthers will draft a quarterback at No. 1. Ron Rivera will want to build around a signal caller that he had a hand selecting, although if Carolina does take a QB at No. 1 then Hurney will basically be admitting that taking Clausen in the second round last year was a mistake. He also foolishly traded this year’s second round pick so that he could reach for Armanti Edwards last April, so Hurney’s head is firmly placed on the chopping block.

The good news for Clausen is that unless the team releases him this offseason (which is doubtful), he’ll have a chance to prove everyone wrong this summer. Even if the Panthers take a quarterback at No. 1, Clausen will be given the opportunity to beat him out in camp because coaches are always hesitant on handing the job over to a rookie. Clausen will just have to man up and take the position if he wants it.

Steelers closing in on AFC North title

When a team suffers a loss and needs a good pick-me-up, the Carolina Panthers often offer the perfect remedy.

A week after losing at home against the Jets, the Steelers rebounded on Thursday night to beat the Panthers 27-3. Ben Roethlisberger completed 22-of-32 passes for 320 yards and one touchdown, while also adding a second score on the ground. On his lone passing touchdown of the night, he read blitz and quickly hit Mike Wallace for a 43-yard score to give Pittsburgh an early 10-0 lead. Thanks to the Panthers’ brutalness, the Steelers went on to collect their easiest win of the year.

With the win, Pittsburgh is now in position to wrap up the AFC North and clinch a bye in the first round of the playoffs if it can beat Cleveland on January 2. And actually, the Browns could help the Steelers well in advance if they can knock off the Ravens this Sunday in Cleveland.

As for the Panthers, the season couldn’t end fast enough for them and John Fox. Their roster is so devoid of talent and it’s tough to evaluate young players like Jimmy Clausen when he has no support around him. Carolina’s running game isn’t bad, but who does Clausen have to throw to? Defenses double-team Steve Smith, leaving Clausen to throw to fellow rookies who are trying to learn the game along with him. And forget protection – Clausen doesn’t have any.

Of course, by this time one would think he would look a little better than he has. He has little to no pocket presence and his accuracy is suspect at best. His decision-making might be coming along a little, but he still does some things that make you want to pull your hair out (like taking a sack on a 4th and 5 in the second quarter instead of just heaving one in the direction of a receiver). Maybe he’ll develop into a solid starter one day but as of right now, he’s showed zero signs of developing. (Again, that’s not all his fault either.)

The Panthers will have an awfully different look to them next season, that’s for sure.

I’m Just Saying: The Vikings have a home game in which the NFL is handing out free tickets so Lions fans can attend.

DETROIT - DECEMBER 12: People enter Ford Field prior to the start of the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 12, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. Ford Field will host the NFL football game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings on Monday December 13 after a blizzard dumped more than 20 inches of snow in parts of the Midwest causing the inflatable roof to collapse under the weight of snow at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Mall of America Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. . (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

This is the second installment of my new column: “I’m Just Saying.” Peter King has a column (Monday Morning Quarterback), so it only makes sense that a well-respected sports blogger like myself has a column as well.

What? I’m not well-respected? Who the hell is Anthony Stalter? Peter King is more established?


– So let me get this straight, the NFL moved the Giants-Vikings game to a NFC North city and is handing out free tickets? If I’m the Vikings, I’m pissed. Nice home game for Minnesota – think any Lion fans will get sauced up and attend the game for free just to root against the Vikings?

– Of course, if the roof of the Metrodome weren’t made of paper mache, the Vikings wouldn’t have to worry about playing at Ford Field.

– Does anyone else find it ironic that Sal Alosi’s job as the Jets’ head strength and conditioning coach is to help players get in shape and avoid injuries and he goes out and trips a Dolphins player…who gets injured? You stay classy, Sal Alosi.

– I’m willing to bet that if the Patriots played all of their games in a blizzard, they would be 19-0 and will have beaten their opponents by a combined score of 855-17.

– The Titans’ backdoor cover against the Colts on Thursday night was one of the worst backdoor covers in the history of backdoor covers. First of all, Indy was up 21-0 in the first half. So what should have been a blowout actually turned into a decent game because their defense is made of Charmin extra soft tissue paper. After they allowed Tennessee to crawl back in the second half, Peyton Manning had not one, but two chances to waste the clock and move the ball and he did neither. Then, with the Colts up by 10 in the final minutes of the game (they were favored by 3), Jeff Fisher trots out Rob Bironas for a field goal attempt but calls him back instead. He decides to put his offense back onto the field and Kerry Collins marches the Titans up the field for a touchdown on the final play of the game (a 4th down no less) and covers the spread. If Fisher were actually trying to win the game, he would have kicked the field goal and tried an onsides kick (he needed 10 points, after all). But because he was trying to screw bettors (which is the only logical explanation here), he decided to go for the touchdown and run the clock down to zero in the process. Final score: Colts 30, Titans 28. Thanks, Jeff.

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Panthers’ Matt Moore and Dan Connor’s seasons over with

If you’re a Carolina Panther fan and you haven’t asked for the sweet release of death yet, then kudos to you.

Matt Moore was placed on injured reserve on Monday, ending his horrific season as a first-year starter. John Fox isn’t a big fan of Jimmy Clausen, but Carolina’s front office is committed to a youth movement and wants to see what it has in the second round pick.

This is likely Fox’s final season with the Panthers, so Moore’s injury makes for an uneasy situation. He’ll likely get heat from the front office to play Clausen, even if he doesn’t think the rookie is ready to be on the field. His other option is Tony Pike (another rookie), but the former Cincinnati product isn’t ready either. Fox said Monday that the Panthers will add a quarterback, but the market is bare and with the team currently sitting at 1-7, it doesn’t matter who they bring in.

Making matters worse, Dan Connor will also miss the rest of the season after he was injured in the Panthers’ loss to the Saints on Sunday. Carolina won’t activate Thomas Davis (PUP list), so their linebacker corps is extremely thin. Jon Beason will have to move back to the middle after playing the first half of the year on the weak side and Nic Harris or Jordan Senn will take over Beason’s old spot.

It’s amazing to think that some pundits actually thought this was a playoff contender this year. Yikes.

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