CHARLOTTE -- One day after getting sacked seven times and knocked down on 10 other occasions, Carolina Panthers quarterback Steve Beuerlein found out he has torn cartilage in his left knee.
But Beuerlein said tests Monday morning showed the cartilage was not completely torn off and was not floating around in the joint, meaning he should be able to finish the season with the injury.
"It's stiff and sore," he said, "but I don't think it's going to be any major issue."
Beuerlein said doctors were unsure whether he could aggravate the injury by continuing to play on a damaged knee. Also uncertain is whether Beuerlein, 34, could withstand another 15 weeks of pounding like he took in Sunday's 19-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
"There's no way for me to foretell if I could hold up under those circumstances. I don't know," he said. "But I'm sure we're going to be a lot better this week even though we're playing a team that is regarded as one of the best in the league."
Next up for the Panthers is their home opener Sunday against Jacksonville, which opened its season of high expectations with a 41-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The Jaguars harassed Steve Young into 9-of-26 passing for 96 yards, sending San Francisco to its worst regular-season loss since 1980.
Beuerlein was under almost constant fire while throwing for 207 yards on 16-of-32 passing. He said his injury occurred when the knee was twisted awkwardly while he was being sacked either late in the first quarter or early in the second.
"I held up fine," he said. "I feel fine today other than normal stiffness and soreness."
Carolina's trainers held Beuerlein out of any running-related aspects of Monday's practice, but he did spend a considerable amount of time on a stair-climbing machine after the team finished its workout.
Coach George Seifert said he reached an obvious conclusion after watching film of Sunday's game.
"We probably have as courageous a quarterback as there is," Seifert said.
Beuerlein is one of four quarterbacks on the Panthers' active roster, but Seifert said that number shouldn't be interpreted as meaning he would be comfortable with losing a quarterback to injury.
"We just don't want to drag one off and drag another one on," Seifert said. "We've got to get better."
Beuerlein wasn't the only player who had trouble as a result of the difficulties experienced by the Panthers' offensive line. Carolina was limited to 85 yards rushing.
Nonetheless, Seifert said he had no immediate plans to make any personnel changes on the line, mainly because he felt the mistakes could be fixed with better execution.
"I'd like to believe that they're correctable," Seifert said. "We have a very talented line coach in Tony Wise and a hard-working group of linemen, and I think we'll get better."
Beuerlein's injury appeared to be the most serious from Sunday's game. Defensive tackle Sean Gilbert had a rib injury and offensive guard Anthony Redmon had a sore elbow, but Seifert said both players are expected to be ready for the Jacksonville contest.
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