Let's start Thursday's series of team-by-team mailbags with the Carolina Panthers.
Haile in Durham, NC writes: Do you think that Jimmy Clausen can prove his worth in before the season ends so that management will not fill compelled to draft Andrew Luck?
Pat Yasinskas: It's possible and I know some important people in the organization were somewhat encouraged by some of what Clausen showed in Sunday's loss to Cleveland. He needs to continue to make strides to make a strong impression. But it's going to be very difficult to come up with a strong opinion on what Clausen has done this season because he's played without much of a supporting cast in an offense that has been dysfunctional. Whoever is the new coach is going to have to watch Clausen's film, going back to college, and make a very difficult decision.
Kevin in Mooresville, NC writes: What do you think Jerry Richardson will do if the Panthers get the No. 1 pick? With the way he's pushed the youth movement and his fear of the lockout, will he really keep the draft pick and have to pay the price tag that comes with a number 1 pick? Or do you think he'd want to trade it away?
Pat Yasinskas: Just a guess here, but I think Richardson gladly would trade the pick to add more picks. The Panthers need help in many areas and the price tag of a No. 1 pick might scare Richardson off. Keep in mind, he had the No. 1 pick in 1995 and traded down. We could see something similar.
Greg in Forest, Va. writes: John Fox is gone after this year, but why is it looking like Marty Hurney is staying? I really don't think three winning seasons in nine years is much of a recommendation for him to keep his job either.
Pat Yasinskas: That's a very valid point. But the rumbles I get out of Carolina are that Hurney will stay and probably be the main force in the hiring of the next coach. From everything I know, Richardson likes and trusts Hurney. They're on the same page and that seems to be what matters most to Richardson these days.
Chuck in Charlotte writes: I'd love to get some information on the coaching candidates that might be coming to Carolina after this season. Until then, all I can do is root for the number one pick and waste Sundays watching mediocre football.
Pat Yasinskas: It's very early yet and we might not know until after the season who will be available. But the guys I'm kind of keeping an eye on at this point are Arizona assistant Russ Grimm (has ties to Hurney), Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy (former Carolina quarterbacks coach) and Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (a rising star). Is a defensive coach also a possibility? Yes, but my hunch is the Panthers will go with an offensive guy after nine years of very conservative and dull offense.