|Clausen familiar with slow 0-5 starts|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Monday, 18 October 2010 08:07|
CHARLOTTE -- Jimmy Clausen knows what it’s like to endure a five-game losing streak after coming to a new program hailed as the savior.|
Clausen’s NFL career with the Carolina Panthers has started eerily similar to the way his college career did at Notre Dame.
In both cases, Clausen replaced an ineffective starter early on in the season and in both cases the teams dug themselves an 0-5 hole. In 2007, the Fighting Irish snapped the streak with an upset win over then-25th-ranked UCLA in Week 6, but still finished with nine losses, the most in the school’s storied history.
“I’ve been in this situation before,” Clausen said. “All of high school I never lost a game and to start off 0-5 at Notre Dame was pretty tough. But I’ve been through that whole scenario of not being as good as you want to be and not winning the games you want to win.”
Clausen said that while his adjustment to Notre Dame was difficult — and even left him doubting himself at times — he learned a valuable life lesson he hopes to carry over to his time in Carolina.
“You have to fight through those tough times,” Clausen said. “There are times when I was doubting myself whether I could play (at the college) level during my freshman year at Notre Dame and whether I made the right choice to go to Notre Dame or not.
“There was a lot of negativity going through my mind and I talked to friends and family and they told me, ‘Calm down and you’ll get through it. Just keep fighting. Strong people come out on top.’ I think that’s the biggest thing I took from that — keep battling, keep grinding and keep going out there with a smile on your face because that will carry over to the rest of the team. It’s just a matter of time where you get to the point where things are clicking and going the right way for you.”
Carolina’s losing streak can’t be pinned on Clausen, or even backup Matt Moore for that matter.
The rookie’s job certainly hasn’t been made easy given Carolina’s ever-changing carousel of wide receivers. In the past week the Panthers claimed David Clowney and Devin Thomas off waivers following an injury to Steve Smith. Early on, the Panthers lost Wallace Wright and Charly Martin to season-ending injuries.
Carolina’s other three receivers are rookies.
“It’s definitely tough,” Clausen said. “It’s a lot of learning on my part and on those guys’ part as well. It’s our rookie year in the NFL and they would probably tell you the same thing. In college, you had that transition period. You aren’t going to be able to flip on that switch and be an All-Pro receiver or an All-American in college. That’s just how the game is. But we’re trying to speed up the process.”
Through five games, Clausen has a quarterback rating of 52.2.
He’s thrown three interceptions and only one touchdown pass, been sacked nine times and fumbled seven times (turning it over twice).
In last week’s 23-6 loss to the Chicago Bears, Clausen was yanked in the fourth quarter and replaced by Moore.
“It was a tough game, obviously not the way I want to go out there and play for myself and as an offensive unit,” Clausen said. “But I think it’s going to be a progression. It’s hard to say when it’s going to be or how it’s going to look like. I just have to keep getting better each and every week and just learning. That’s the big thing is to learn from the mistakes.”
“You will have good days and bad days and last Sunday was a bad day.
Still, offensive tackle Jordan Gross said he likes the way Clausen has handled himself through tough times.
“I told him after Sunday’s game this is as tough as it gets,” Gross said. “Anytime you start out losing three games as a starter with some real adversity on offense you can only go up from there. But he’s prepared well on offense and done a nice job and held his composure in the huddle. He’s impressed me overall with his attitude and maturity.”
Coach John Fox has also been impressed by Clausen so far.
“This is combative, competitive sport,” Fox said. “These guys have a special feature about them that enjoys it, and they realize you’re not always going to be successful.”