Jimmy Clausen is dealing with being benched for the first time in the NFL. (AP Photo)
CHARLOTTE – Alex Smith can relate to what Jimmy Clausen is going through -- and then some.
Smith was a former No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and has been benched, booed and berated since joining the San Francisco 49ers.
But he’s managed to persevere and regain his starting job, although his grasp on the job might be tenuous at best following a 1-5 start. Last Sunday he was booed at home after the 49ers fell behind early and fans began chanting for backup quarterback David Carr.
“It’s part of the game and you have to deal with it,” Smith said. “As a quarterback you get judged on wins and losses and when your 0-5 you have to respect that. For the most part I think all quarterbacks or anyone would say that it affects their family members in the stands more than it affects them.”
Like Smith, Clausen’s career is off to a rocky start, although it’s hardly all his fault.
Clausen went 0-3 as a starter, turned the ball over five times and was sacked nine times before getting benched earlier this week for veteran Matt Moore.
Smith has been benched a few times during his career and he said that getting jerked in and out of the lineup can have a lasting impact on a young quarterback’s confidence. Clausen said earlier in the week his confidence is not shaken.
“I kind of refer to it as scar tissue,” Smith said. “Things that stay with you, you get put in that tough situation where you have to play and you’re unprepared.
“If you go out there and play bad in this league and go through some rough things as a young player it can absolutely cause you to carry that scar tissue with you for a while.”
He’s talked about that issue at length with Carr, who carries a load of scar tissue after taking beatings first with the Houston Texans and later with the Panthers.
“We’ve both had our ups and downs,” Smith said.
So how do you deal with that scar tissue?
“You have to play well and go out there and do it,” Smith said. “That is kind of one argument to give and take of playing a young quarterback in this league. If they go out there and go through some really hard times there is going to be some scar tissue.
“To overcome that you have to get back on field and continue to play in order to overcome it. It’s a cliché but one game at a time.”
THE RIGHT CALL: Center Ryan Kalil is in support of Fox's decision to replace Clausen with Moore.
"I think they’re both good quarterbacks, but we are excited about Matt coming back and I think it is the right move,” Kalil said. “Hopefully we can give them some help in the passing game by being more efficient and getting back to the way we were in the running game in the past few seasons. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Fox said he pleased with the work of Moore this week, saying, “He's had a good week of preparation and a good week of practice. Now we've got to go do it in a game – not just the quarterback.”
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Although his offense remains a mess, Fox said he’s encouraged by the improvement he’s seen on defense.
“I think we've definitely gotten better as we've gone,” Fox said. “We need to continue to get better and find ways to win games.”
THE WRIGHT STUFF: Wallace Wright said he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn labrum and a torn muscle in his rotator cuff in his right shoulder and he should be catching passes in another month-and-a-half and be back to full speed by January.
Wright, who is on injured reserve, shakes his head wondering what could have been.
He came to Carolina hoping for a chance to play wide receiver and surely would have had that opportunity given the team’s struggles at that position.
Wright said this is the first time he’s missed time since coming into the NFL.
“I’m looking forward to next year already,” said Wright, who’s under contract through 2011. “I can taste it. For it to be that close for me and then get hurt, sure it’s hard, but it’s part of the game. Now I just have my sights set on next year.”
INJURY UPDATE: TE Dante Rosario returned to practice on a limited basis, the only change in Carolina’s injury report on Thursday.
Otherwise, WR Steve Smith (ankle) practiced full, while OG Travelle Wharton (knee) was limited and OT Jeff Otah (knee) and LB Jamar Williams (neck) were out.