|Improving Clausen catching up with the tempo of the NFL game|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Monday, 14 June 2010 13:56|
CHARLOTTE – With each passing day, rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen is growing more comfortable with the Carolina Panthers offense.|
It’s the heat that is taking some getting used to.
“It’s the Southern heat,” said Clausen, referring to the temperatures that soared to 94 degrees Monday during OTA practice in Charlotte. “I'm not used to it. It's the same weather as Southern California except the humidity is a little more intense."
Clausen’s stock in Carolina is clearly on the rise as he’s performed well in practices since being selected this past April in the second round. He’s still behind starter Matt Moore on the depth chart and it’s looking like he’ll have a battle on his hands with the ever-improving Hunter Cantwell for No. 2 spot on the quarterback depth chart.
But make no doubt about it, Clausen will be right there in the mix. He's making all the throws.
He’s making good decisions.
And, to no one’s surprise, he’s catching on to the playbook pretty fast.
Clausen used a similar playbook at Notre Dame. His former college coach Charlie Weis worked closely with current Panthers offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson while both were winning Super Bowls in New England. And that’s made his transition from college to the NFL that much easier.
“I think so,” Clausen said. “It’s pretty much similar terms, but a few different reads and plays. But at the same token, it’s pretty much the same exact stuff.”
The big difference, he’s finding, is the protections vary a bit more at this level.
For instance, Clausen said a play at Notre Dame might look something like this: Guns trips right, 64 scan, Z-option, X comeback. In Carolina, the play is: Gun 2 jet, 54 scan, Z-option, X-comeback.
“It just changes the protection, but at the same time it’s still the same play,” Clausen said.
It’s those little details Clausen is working to perfect so that they become like second nature.
“I’m trying to pick it up as fast as I can just to be able to play faster while I’m out there,” he said.
Clausen believes that having a knowledge of the playbook has given him a leg up on other rookies in the NFL.
“Definitely,” he said. “It’s like learning Spanish. It’s a whole different language. Just being in the same system… it’s helped me a lot.”
Still, Clausen said, there are things to improve upon.
Most notably, he said, getting used to the tempo of the game.
That includes the tempo of his drop-back, the speed of the pass rush and the speed of the receivers. Everything, he said, is faster than most folks realize.
“It’s a step up from college and I just have to get used to that,” Clausen said.
But Clausen, who is confident by nature, believes he’ll be just fine.
So do his teammates.
"He's still young and still has a lot to go, but he looks good back there in the pocket," said Panthers veteran cornerback Chris Gamble. "He gets the ball out there quickly. He looks you off, little things like that. I haven't seen him throw an interception. He's been throwing the ball well and getting it to the receiver."
Clausen knows he might have to be patient to realize his goals, but in the meantime he plans to keep learning and improving.
“This is what I was born to do -- play the game of football,” Clausen said. “God has given me a special talent and I’m just trying to come out every day and get better at all of the little things. All of the big things will come into play later, but each time you come out to practice you have to work on specific things to make the team better and make your game better as well.”