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Panthers rookie Clausen learning the hard way

Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

Carolina coach John Fox never had the intentions of playing rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen this year.

But an injury to Matt More altered that plan.

Clausen has started eight games completing 128 of 243 passes for 1,304 yards, two touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Even though the numbers aren't good, Fox is happy with the rookie's progress.

"We had a bit of a setback two weeks ago," Fox said. "Like all young players, they are going to make some mistakes. About this past week, Jimmy had made some much better decisions; I thought he operated the offense as well as he has so far. This was his first win as a starting quarterback and he was very excited, and not afraid to work at it."

Against the Falcons two weeks ago, Clausen had a 51.9 passer rating, but rebounded by leading the Panthers to a victory over Arizona last week.

• Carolina is 2-12 and has the worst record in the league.

Even so, the Steelers can't fall into that trap like they did last year when they went to Cleveland late in the season on a Thursday night and lost to a bad Browns team.

"We have to be ready to play," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "Truly, nobody is ever as bad as their record in this league. They are going to come out and give us a fight."

• Fox has been coaching in the NFL for 21 years. First as an assistant under Chuck Noll with the Steelers, and the past nine years as Carolina head coach.

"Being 2-12 is unchartered territory for me," Fox said. "I've never had a bottomed-out season in 21 years, so this has been my first. I'm not an expert at it. And I haven't been a part of a lot of them as a coach either. This is new territory for me. I'm not an expert at it."




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