Steelers Vs. Panthers Opponent Spotlight Player: QB Jimmy Clausen

Aug 11, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen (7) gets pressured by Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. The Texans defeated the Panthers 26-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

For lack of another term, Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen was fed to the wolves his rookie year in Week 16.

Facing a determined Steelers team with homefield advantage on its mind, the Steelers destroyed Clausen and the Panthers 27-3 behind a slew of big plays on offense and five sacks on defense.

Clausen had little chance to recover from his 10-for-23 passing performance that netted 72 yards to go along with an interception. Led by him, the Panthers were whipped by Atlanta to close off a 2-14 season, landing them the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

They took Clausen's replacement, QB Cam Newton, and Clausen's name has barely come up since then.

While ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper contended Clausen was the 4th best player available in the 2010 draft, which would have made that draft by far and away the worst the league has ever seen, Clausen was placed in a bad situation. That provides little excuse for his horrendous 58.4 career passer rating, but he's still a young guy, and perhaps, heading into his third season, a decent showing in back-up duty could have potentially led to a trade to a different environment - one in which one of the league's best young players isn't starting over him.

His 10-for-18, 79 yard showing so far in preseason will not likely attract many suitors.

He's not even in contention for the Panthers' back-up job, which is owned currently by another soul previously tormented by the Steelers - former Browns QB Derek Anderson.

So why does Clausen matter tonight? He matters as much as anyone else matters in the final preseason game of the year. The snaps are likely to be slanted toward Anderson anyway, but the recent history between these two teams involves Clausen being manhandled by the Steelers defense. More recently than Anderson, anyway.

Still, with zero need to play Newton even a little bit, and only slightly more of a reason to play Anderson, the Panthers may as well play Clausen the whole game.

There are a few Steelers' linebackers on the fringe of making or missing out on a roster spot, they'll be eager to get after a passer, so Clausen's role in this game could be the one to watch.


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