Originally created 11/28/02

Panthers sticking with Peete



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rodney Peete will remain Carolina's starting quarterback, a sign the Panthers may have given up on Chris Weinke.

The 36-year-old Peete, benched for the second-half of a 41-0 loss to Atlanta, will start Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. Whether or not Weinke or rookie Randy Fasani will be the backup will be a game-time decision, coach John Fox said.

Weinke started as a rookie last year, but has been Peete's backup all season because Fox has maintained that Peete gives the Panthers (3-8) a better chance to win.

But now that Carolina is stuck in an eight-game losing streak, critics have said the Panthers should take a long look at Weinke if he truly is in their long-term plans.

Fox said Wednesday that the 30-year-old former Heisman Trophy winner is still in the mix, but Peete is just better right now.

"He gives us the best opportunity to win. We've been competitive in nine of 11 games, and I think he's been a big part of that," Fox said. "We're attacking these five games to win, not anything about getting anyone ready for the future. We think our future is to win."

Still, the Panthers haven't given Weinke much time to showcase anything this season. He started one game as an injury replacement for Peete, but was knocked out in the first half with a concussion.

The Panthers then went to him Sunday against Atlanta when he played the third quarter, but Fasani replaced him in the fourth.

Fox said after the game there was no plan to give both Weinke and Fasani a quarter to play, an indication that Weinke was taken out based on his 3-for-8 performance for 26 yards and two interceptions.

But Fasani wasn't much better: He went 4-of-7 for 25 yards and was sacked three times.

"I think Randy and Chris are the quarterback of the future ... when they've had the opportunity, we've gotten them development," Fox said. "But the biggest time of the year to do that stuff is in the offseason and the preseason."

Peete said he had always planned to start Sunday against the Browns - even though Fox refused until Wednesday to name the No. 1 quarterback.

Asked if he was surprised Fox was sticking with him, Peete simply answered "No," then smiled during a long, awkward pause.

"Why should I be? I've said this before - until somebody tells me otherwise, you don't get into anything other than what I am supposed to do and right now I am supposed to play," he said. "That's what I am going to do."

Peete will try to end Carolina's woes in Cleveland, where he'll try to overcome cold conditions that will certainly bother the torn tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand.

"Yeah, it does bother me, but it's at the point where I have to tape it up and go with it," Peete said. "I'll have hand warmers and other things to keep my hands warm, and I've played in the cold before, so I can handle it."