|Pike, Cantwell ready to battle it out for No. 3 quarterback spot|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Wednesday, 01 September 2010 14:54|
CHARLOTTE – Thursday night’s preseason finale may not mean a lot to Carolina Panthers fans, but it means everything in the world to quarterbacks Tony Pike and Hunter Cantwell. They’re competing for the third and presumably final quarterback spot on Carolina’s 53-man roster when the Panthers visit the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. (Kickoff 7:30 p.m.)|
With the starters likely to be out after a series or two, Pike and Cantwell will get at least a quarter each to impress the coaches after rookie Jimmy Clausen gets his reps.
It’s not much, and certainly it isn’t all they’ll be judged on, but coach John Fox typically weighs a player’s performance in games pretty heavily in the evaluation process.
“For a third-string quarterback, that might be the last action you see for the year, so it's a big game -- for me it's like going into a Super Bowl or something because you know that might be your last chance for awhile,” Pike said.
Pike would seem to be the odds-on favorite since the Panthers spent a sixth-round draft pick on him and Cantwell has done nothing to distance from the rookie from Cincinnati.
Plus, there’s probably a better chance Cantwell would clear waivers than Pike, meaning they might be able to re-sign him to the practice squad.
However, offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson said before last week’s game against Tennessee the job was still up in the air.
Since neither played against the Titans, nothing much has changed since then.
“You don't really know what the coaches are thinking and the decisions they've already made,” Cantwell said. “You just know that every rep is important, not only for the Carolina Panthers in evaluation, but other teams around the league. So you go out and just worry about moving the ball and making the offense work, not trying to do too much.”
Both feel confident in what they’ve shown the coaches during training camp.
“I think it's gone well,” Cantwell said. “I think I've come out and played well and done some good things. But at the end of the day it's in the coaches' hands. Their decision will be what's important.”
“You always want to play, so you prepare every week like you're going to. But that's just the nature of the preseason, the nature of the coaches trying to figure out who's going to fill certain spots. You don't get your hopes up. You prepare as if you're going to play and if you don't you go out and root the guys on that are playing.”
So far Cantwell has completed 6 of 17 passes for 68 yards in the preseason with no touchdowns for a QB rating of 48.2. Pike has only played one series and failed to complete his only pass attempt.
The biggest thing Thursday night, Cantwell said, is to avoid pressing in the game and trying to make something happen that’s simply not there.
“You can't try to go out and create something out of nothing. That's when you get yourself in trouble,” Cantwell said. “The coaches don't want to see that, they just want to see you run the offense. You’re efficient with the ball and you can move the offense up and down the field. That's what they're looking for. They know what you can do physically, so you don't have to worry about impressing them in that area.”
Added Pike: “I just want to go in and just play like I know how to, to play fast. That's the biggest thing with everything -- don't go in there and be tentative, don't go in there and over-think things. I just make a decision and go with it.”