Full Version: Weinke loses starting job
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</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"> Just one week shy of the season opener, and in the latest bizarre twist in an historically unstable Carolina Panthers quarterback situation, the team has elected to bench Chris Weinke and elevate Rodney Peete to the starting job.

Team and league sources confirmed that, after evaluating the position, the organization feels Peete offers the Panthers the best chance to win.

"It's just something we felt we had to do after looking at the situation," said one Panthers official.

An official announcement is expected Monday from coach John Fox. The Panthers open the season at home against the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.

A fourth-round choice in the 2001 draft, Weinke started 15 games as a rookie, completing 293 of 540 passes for 2,931 yards, with 11 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions. His quarterback rating, 62.0, was the second lowest in the league among starters.

Weinke, 30, started during the preseason, but the former Florida State star and Heisman Trophy winner struggled, completing 35 of 59 passes for 270 yards, with one touchdown pass and two interceptions.

The Panthers bypassed former Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington in the first round of the draft this year, and instead chose North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers with the second overall choice because they were hopeful Weinke would progress under new offensive coordinator Dan Henning. But that didn't occur to the staff's satisfaction, and now the team might have to address its long-term quarterback situation in 2003.

Coaches and team officials Monday will further discuss Weinke's status. Because he triggered a series of "escalators" and bonuses in his contract by playing so much in 2001, it is unlikely Weinke would be released. It is, however, possible he could slip to No. 3 on the depth chart behind Peete and rookie Randy Fasani, a fifth-round choice from Stanford.

Peete, 36, was signed as an unrestricted free agent this spring. He is in his 14th season, playing with his sixth different franchise, and has not played in more than five games in a season since 1995. He hasn't started a game since Nov. 2, 1998 and hasn't thrown a regular-season pass since the finale of the 1999 season.

The former Southern California standout missed a significant portion of camp because of a strained knee, the death of his father-in-law and then the birth of his third child. He attempted just 19 passes in the preseason.

This marks the second consecutive year in which the Panthers will open the season with a quarterback other than the one who went to training camp as the starter. Last summer, Jeff Lewis was the anointed starter. Weinke beat him out for the No. 1 job and Lewis was subsequently released.

In 1998, three-year starter Kerry Collins walked out on the team, telling then- coach Dom Capers he had lost his heart for the game. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
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