CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen has been cleared to play following a concussion and will seek his first win as an NFL starter Sunday against ex-Panthers QB Jake Delhomme and Cleveland.
Clausen practiced for a third straight day Friday after missing last Sunday's loss to Baltimore and coach John Fox says doctors have signed off on his return. Clausen, who was injured on the final offensive play Nov. 14 at Tampa Bay, was listed as probable.
"I think he had an outstanding week of preparation," Fox said. "From my understanding is he had no side effects and we anticipate he'll be good to go on Sunday."
The rookie will be matched against Delhomme, Carolina's former QB, who will start for the injured Colt McCoy and provide another odd twist in the Panthers' miserable season.
Carolina (1-9) released Delhomme in March following an 18-interception season in 2009.
"Obviously, Jake was down here in Carolina for a long time and did great things down here," Clausen said. "He's one of the quarterbacks I like to watch and get bits and pieces that they do to try to help my game. It'll be good to finally meet him for the first time."
Even though Clausen is 0-4 as a starter, has completed just 48.6 percent of his passes and has one touchdown pass and four interceptions, the Panthers desperately needed him to return. There is nothing but uncertainty behind him with Matt Moore lost to a season-ending shoulder injury.
Brian St. Pierre, who started Sunday's 37-13 loss to the Ravens 10 days after being signed off the street, has a sore throwing shoulder. He's listed as probable after being limited in practice this week, but hinted earlier in the week he wouldn't be able to play.
Rookie Tony Pike is probable after being limited all week, also with a sore throwing arm. Behind him is Keith Null, who was signed to the practice squad on Tuesday. Fox said the backup would be a "game-time decision" and didn't rule out promoting Null to the 53-man roster.
"It's comforting to have a guy that can start the game," Fox said. "I'm not sure about our depth situation going into this game. We'll sort that out as we move forward."
Fox said he would split carries in the backfield with Mike Goodson and Jonathan Stewart, who is probable after practicing Friday. Goodson had two 100-yard rushing games filling in for Stewart the last two weeks.