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Clausen's growing pains continue

| Friday, Dec. 24, 2010

If it doesn't kill him, it will make him stronger.

"One of those two things are going to happen," Carolina left tackle Jordan Gross said of rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

Following yet another dismal performance in Thursday night's 27-3 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field, the former looks like the better bet for now. Clausen finished 10 of 23 for 72 yards with an interception and a paltry 33.2 passer rating. Carolina's offense managed only 119 total yards.

"It is definitely frustrating," said Clausen, who is 1-8 as an NFL starter. "I wish I could've done some things differently."

Clausen was the Panthers' second-round pick in April and was supposed to back up Matt Moore this year. An injury to Moore early in the season forced him into the lineup early.

That has been evident down the stretch for coach John Fox.

"We have obviously had our struggles at that position throughout the season," he said. "We obviously have some work to do in that area."

Clausen has two touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year and has yet to throw for more than 200 yards in a game.

"It has definitely been a long season," he said. "My confidence is fine. I have to go out each and every day and keep getting better. Obviously, last week was a good week for us. Then, you come in here and myself play like I did is tough."

Initially, Clausen appeared to have picked up where he left off last week against Arizona, when he had a 107.6 passer rating and led the Panthers to a 19-12 victory. Clausen went 4 of 5 for 27 yards on last night's first drive, leading the Panthers to the Steelers' 33-yard line. Then, he went 2 of 2 for 21 yards on the next drive, which resulted in a failed fourth-down play deep in Steelers territory.

After that, it all went downhill.

Clausen connected on just 4 of 16 passes for 23 yards, as the Panthers managed 0 yards for the entire second and third quarters minus one minute.

"I don't think anybody played too good," tailback Mike Goodson said. "As a team, we didn't play good. It is never one guy when we lose or never one guy when we win."

Carolina is in line to be selecting No. 1 this April, and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck could be the top prospect. With Fox expected to be fired, the Panthers could go in another direction under their new coach.

But linebacker Jon Beason said he isn't worried about a rough rookie year affecting the former Notre Dame standout.

"It is always a growing experience as a rookie, whether you have a good rookie year or a bad rookie year," Beason said. "I look for him to mature and grow. ... He is a tough kid, for sure."

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