Testaverde Back in the NFL

10-10-07 - Vinny Testaverde won the Heisman Trophy the same year his new Carolina teammate Dwayne Jarrett was born. He was the No. 1 overall pick eight years before the Panthers entered the NFL.

He's thrown more passes than have been thrown in Carolina's history. He's also nearly four years older than his offensive coordinator.

Yet the soon-to-be 44-year-old Testaverde -- the man nicknamed "Dad" by his new teammates -- could start Sunday for the banged-up Panthers at Arizona.

"I'm just surprised that people are still interested in a 44-year old quarterback that hasn't played in five or six weeks," Testaverde said Wednesday, with his gray sideburns visible under his baseball cap. "It's like starting as a rookie, that excited, nervous, ready-to-go feeling."

The Panthers hope Testaverde will be ready after a five-day crash course. With Jake Delhomme set to undergo season-ending elbow surgery and David Carr missing practice and walking gingerly Wednesday with a back injury, Testaverde could be Carolina's best option.

"He's a guy we were fortunate enough to find at this point in the season," coach John Fox said.

Joining his sixth franchise, Testaverde has played in 226 games with 208 starts. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1987 draft was cut by New England before the start of the season.

"He brings experience," general manager Marty Hurney said. "He throws the ball extremely well. He's a fierce competitor."

The Panthers hope Carr will be able to practice late in the week and play Sunday. But Carr, who said his vertebrae was "squished" on a sack in Sunday's win over New Orleans, was far from ready Wednesday.

"I felt like my grandpa Monday. I felt like my dad today. Hopefully I'll feel like my 7-year-old son by Sunday," Carr said.

Matt Moore, an undrafted rookie who played briefly Sunday when Carr was being treated, is the other quarterback on the roster. But Moore's inexperience and the fact he was signed only last month after being cut by Dallas could make the Panthers wary of starting him.

Enter Testaverde -- two years younger than Moore's father -- who shook off the old-man jokes in the locker room Wednesday.

"I haven't told them yet, but I have probably forgot more football than these guys already know," Testaverde said with a grin.

Entering his 21st season, the two-time Pro Bowl pick ranks sixth in NFL history 6,529 pass attempts, 150 more than Carolina has in its 13-year history. His 3,693 completions and 45,281 yards passing also rank sixth. He's ninth with 270 touchdown passes and tied for 10th with 30 300-yard passing games.

On Sunday, he could be throwing to Jarrett, who was born in 1986, the year Testaverde was named the best player in college football.

"I was probably about 7 or 8 when he was with the Browns," said Panthers receiver and Ohio native Drew Carter. "It was kind of surreal that I'm his teammate now.

"But he came into the huddle today and took control."

Testaverde does have some familiarity with the offense. Carolina's 40-year-old offensive coordinator, Jeff Davidson, is a former New England assistant and Testaverde spent last season with the Patriots.

"I know the system they run here," Testaverde said. "For someone with my experience it is easier than say a younger player coming in and trying to learn the system."

Delhomme was officially placed on injured reserve Wednesday to make room for Testaverde. Hurney said he has no concerns about Testaverde's age.

"If you watched him in preseason, he threw the ball extremely well," Hurney said. "He played in two preseason games -- one was against us -- and he still showed the ability to compete in this league.

"He's a guy who takes extremely good care of himself."

The available pool of quarterbacks was thin, and the Panthers were in competition with their Sunday opponent. The Cardinals also called Testaverde after they learned Matt Leinart would miss the rest of the season with a broken collarbone.

Testaverde turned them down, preferring to go to Carolina so he wouldn't be as far away from his family in New York.

On Sunday, new Arizona starting QB Kurt Warner could face Testaverde just five days after he signed with the Panthers.

"That would be amazing," Warner said. "I suppose there's a possibility with a guy as seasoned as he is, but I think it would be a very difficult thing. Much to his credit if he was able to pull it off."


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