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Carr excited, even though he's a backup

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As the losses and sacks kept piling up,
football stopped being fun for David Carr.

In five seasons in Houston, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft
went 24-56 with no playoff appearances, and a body bruised and
battered from an NFL-high 249 sacks.

Now with Carolina Panthers, Carr is smiling again -- even though he will
be a backup for the first time.

"I've been on an expansion team and it's not fun. ... I've been on teams that
aren't winning and it wasn't exciting. Football is a hard enough
game when you go out there and you're battling everything and you
go out and lose it makes it hard."
-- David Carr

"You get to a point where you're in survival mode, which is
hard for me,'' Carr said Friday, a week after agreeing on a
two-year, $6.2 million deal to be the Panthers' No. 2 QB behind
Jake Delhomme.

"Honestly in the last five years we haven't had much spark. If
we were stuck in the forest it would be hard to light a fire with
what we had going on.''

Carr expressed some resentment Friday toward the Houston Texans, who
released him last month after they acquired Matt Schaub in a trade
with Atlanta. Schaub was then quickly anointed the starter.

Carr may have had chances to start elsewhere -- he visited
Oakland -- but chose Carolina because he wanted to play for a team
that has a chance to win.

"I've been on an expansion team and it's not fun,'' Carr said
of being the first pick by the Texans. "I've been on teams that
aren't winning and it wasn't exciting. Football is a hard enough
game when you go out there and you're battling everything and you
go out and lose it makes it hard. I wanted to be on a team that was
fun and exciting and whether I had a chance to play right away, it
didn't matter to me.''

Carr also made it clear he wanted to play for a team with an
established offensive line. Carr completed 60 percent of his passes
with the Texans, including a career-high 68 percent last season.
But Carr also 65 interceptions over five seasons as he faced nearly
constant pressure.

So it wasn't surprising Carr quickly sought out members of
Carolina's line. Tackle Jordan Gross was one of the first Panthers
he met.

"Honestly in the last five years we haven't had much spark. If
we were stuck in the forest it would be hard to light a fire with
what we had going on."
-- Carr on his time in Houston

"If I learned anything in the last five years, that's where
football games are won and lost,'' Carr said.

Until last season when injuries devastated the line, Delhomme
has been protected. He's been sacked 106 times in the past four
seasons, while Carr was sacked an NFL record 76 times in just his
rookie year.

It's believed the 6-foot-3 Carr, who won't turn 28 until July,
could blossom when he has time to throw. With Delhomme and the
Panthers coming off a disappointing 8-8 season, it's been suggested
Carr could quickly challenge for the No. 1 job.

General manager Marty Hurney said Delhomme is the clear starter,
but likes having an established quarterback as a backup. Carolina
released Chris Weinke last month after he was ineffective replacing
an injured Delhomme last season.

"[Carr] knows that Jake is our starter,'' Hurney said. "Every
player wants to play, but he knows the role he's coming into.''

Carr also insisted Friday he's content as a backup -- and ready
take a break from running away from defensive linemen.

"I need to take a deep breath and be around a good environment
and just start enjoying the game again,'' Carr said. "In the last
week or two, it's brought back a lot of excitement that I had when
I was younger.

"As far as getting on the field and playing, that's not up to
me. That will be something that will come in time hopefully. When
Jake is out there I will be his biggest fan.''

Carr said he's returning to Charlotte Monday with his wife, and
will take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, while
pouring over the playbook.

"It's funny, the day I was signed by Carolina, I was throwing
balls the next day. I've never done that before,'' Carr said. "I
was out there throwing a ball for two or three hours and I couldn't
really explain it except I was excited to get a new opportunity and
a chance to show what I can do.''