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Old 01 Sep 2003, 11:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Carolina Panthers coach John Fox announced Sunday that 37-year-old Rodney Peete will start at quarterback in the opener against Jacksonville.

Fox said Jake Delhomme will be the backup for the opener and Chris Weinke will remain third on the depth chart.

"As I told the quarterbacks, if we're sitting there on Saturday night and two of them got sick I would feel confident that whoever the third one was we would win with," Fox said.

John Kasay, the lone holdover from the 1995 Panthers expansion team, will be the team's kicker this season after beating out Shayne Graham.

Kasay has kicked in his 159 games during his 13 seasons in the NFL, converting 80 percent of his kicks. Graham, a third-year pro, was one of 16 players released or waived.

"It was a very fierce battle, very close," Fox said. "In the end, we went with experience over youth. We put a lot of stock in those number of games that John Kasay has kicked in over the years."

However, he's missed 33 games the past four seasons with injuries, including all of last season with a hernia. The Panthers kept Kasay even though he'll cost about $700,000 more than Graham under this year's salary cap.

Kasay looked strong throughout training camp and was 4-for-5 on field-goal attempts during the preseason. Graham was 2-for-4.

The Panthers also released four-time Pro Bowl special teams ace Michael Bates and running back Dee Brown, who started the final four games last season for Carolina.

Fox said one of the more difficult decisions was to cut Bates, who went to four straight Pro Bowls for the Panthers from 1996-99.

"He has been a leader in our locker room," Fox said. "This had nothing to do with him not being able to play anymore or a drop-off in his ability. It was a tough decision and we went a different route."

Among the other players cut were guards Derrick Fletcher and Tommy Moody; linebackers Kole Ayi and Vinny Ciurciu; defensive tackles Tony Brown and Darian Tate; wide receivers Henry Douglas and Marco Martos; safety Deke Cooper; tight end Kirk McMullen; defensive end Arnold Miller; cornerback Chris Pointer; and center Louis Williams.

Among the surprises to make the team include wide receiver Eugene Baker, cornerback William Hampton, guard Tutan Reyes, linebacker Marquis Smith and defensive end Kemp Rasmussen.

The Panthers placed safety Damien Richardson and fullback Casey Moore on injured reserve. Richardson, considered a valuable special teams player, tore a ligament in his left knee in Friday night's preseason finale against Pittsburgh.

Baker won a roster spot with an impressive training camp in which he caught nine passes for 121 yards. With Bates gone, Baker is expected to be paired with Rod Smart on kickoff returns. He could also see action on punt returns after averaging 17.2 yards per return.

"Every week, whether you'd be looking at game tape or even just in practice, he kept making plays," Fox said.

espn.com
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Even though he's very old, I think this is a good decision by Carolina. Peete had a good season for them last year, and plus he's the only decent QB they have.
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Old 01 Sep 2003, 02:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I wouldn't be shocked to see Delhomme starting by Week 6 or 7.
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Old 01 Sep 2003, 06:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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^^ I agree. I watched him play a bit while he was in New Orleans and he has some major potential.
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Old 03 Sep 2003, 09:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Watch out for Weinke..he could also nab the starting job,he had a hell of a passer rating in the preseason..
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