Carolina Panthers coach John Fox remains steadfast in his support for quarterback Jake Delhomme and rookie running back Jonathan Stewart.
Delhomme threw four interceptions, matching his career high, in Sunday's 17-6 win at Oakland. He was 7-of-27 passing and set career lows with 72 yards passing and a 12.3 rating.
While acknowledging the Panthers didn't throw the ball well, Fox said “it wasn't just Jake” at his Monday news conference.
“There were a couple of drops, a couple of better routes (that could've been run), a couple of better protections,” said Fox. “Jake is a standup guy. He's going to take the responsibility. I think his teammates appreciate that about him, and I know I do as the head coach.”
Fox said there was nothing physically wrong with Delhomme during the game and that the lack of success through the air gives the Panthers something to work on for the weeks ahead.
Stewart, a first-round draft pick, rushed for 21 yards on seven carries. He has 111 yards and one touchdown in the past four games after rushing for 272 yards and four scores in the first five games.
DeAngelo Williams gained more yards Sunday (140) than Stewart has in the past month. After a slow start to the season, Williams has been hot of late, with 464 yards in the past five games.
When asked about whether Stewart's sore heel was hurting his play, or if he'd hit the wall that slows some rookies, Fox said: “No, it's none of those things in my opinion. He did miss two days of practice (last) week. That never helps. He made some hard runs, and part of (the gains on) those runs were his.
“There's no doubt the bulk (of the carries went to) DeAngelo, and it goes that way (sometimes). Probably about a month ago, people were wanting (Stewart) to be the starter. It's a long season and we're going to need him. He knows it and we know it. So it's nothing he's done wrong.”
Fox said he's “totally happy” with Stewart and Williams.
Fox said starting center Ryan Kalil didn't reinjure his ankle before leaving the Oakland game late in the first quarter, but rather realized the injury wasn't sufficiently healed yet.
Kalil, who had missed the previous three games, was replaced by Geoff Hangartner.
“Until you really get out in a game, sometimes you don't totally know,” said Fox. It's “not that he was real inadequate, he just felt there was a little bit of a problem pushing, and (the Raiders) were pretty big inside and we needed some push.”
Carolina's Nov. 23 game at Atlanta has been moved to 4:15 p.m. as part of the NFL's flexible scheduling policy so that more of the country can watch the game on television.
Kickoff originally was set for 1 p.m., but the change was made because of the success of the Panthers (7-2) and Falcons (6-3) and the game's likely importance in the playoff race.
The Panthers have drafted five running backs in the first or second rounds, and Williams has a chance to become the first to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Williams, a 2006 first-round pick, has 662 yards through nine games. That puts him on pace for an 1,177-yard season.
This season, the Panthers took Stewart in the first round. Carolina's previous first- or second-round running back draftees who failed to gain 1,000 yards in a season were Tshimanga Biakabutuka, DeShaun Foster and Eric Shelton.
Carolina ranks second in the league in scoring defense, matching the highest ranking the Panthers have had in that category after Week 10.
The Panthers also ranked second at this point of the 2002 season.
The Panthers ranked third in 1996 and fifth in ‘97 after 10 weeks. The ‘96 team, which reached the NFC Championship Game, was ranked first for five weeks and finished second.
Carolina has held opponents to single-digit scoring four times this season and has yet to give up more than 27 points in a game.
Charles Chandler: 704-358-5123
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