CHARLOTTE, N.C. For weeks, Carolina Panthers coach John Fox has been careful not to name a No. 1 quarterback, saying the decision to use Vinny Testaverde or David Carr would be based on their health.
After both players practiced Wednesday, Fox made it clear: He's going with the 44-year-old.
"Right now, if everybody is healthy, Vinny will be the starter," Fox said.
While not unexpected, the move is an indictment of Carr, who the Panthers signed to a two-year, $6 million deal in the offseason to back up Jake Delhomme. Since Delhomme was lost to a season-ending elbow injury in Week 3, Carr has sustained two concussions and a back injury.
But when he's played, he's been ineffective, struggling to find receivers and appearing skittish in the pocket. It led Fox to go with Testaverde, who was out of the league until Carolina signed him in Week 6 after Carr was first injured.
"We make decisions based on who gives us the best chance," Fox said. "It's not always money. It's not always what round (he's drafted). We make those decisions not based on any polls from the outside. It's just based on who we think gives us the best chance. Right now we think that's Vinny."
Carr tried to take the decision in stride.
"If I hadn't gotten injured, I'd be bummed out I wasn't playing," Carr said. "But there are a lot of other things that have gone into the decisions coach Fox has had to make."
The move does give the Panthers some stability at quarterback for Sunday's game against New Orleans. It will mark the third straight game Testaverde has started for a team that has used four QBs, counting four brief appearances by rookie Matt Moore.
"For the guys in the locker room it may be different to know that hey, we've got the same guy in there," Testaverde said. "That's kind of a comfortable feeling for them to not have to look back and say, 'Who's in there this week?'"
It also puts Carr's future with the team in question. The No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft acknowledged it's been "a little different than I expected" with the Panthers. In the offseason, Carr raved about going to a competitive team after being sacked 249 times in five losing seasons with the expansion Houston Texans.
But Carr has had trouble finding Steve Smith and other receivers downfield. He's averaging only 4.74 yards per pass attempt, has three touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of only 65.7.The Panthers, losers of four straight, are 4-6 and barely hanging onto playoff hopes.
CRAYTON QUESTIONABLE: Despite his sprained left foot being in a walking cast and having missed both practices this week, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton said he's still a game-time decision to play Thursday against the New York Jets.
Across the locker room, though, Sam Hurd said he's "supposed to" start in Crayton's place. He's so sure of seeing more action than usual that he admitted Wednesday to having thought about becoming the latest unheralded Dallas player to have a starring performance on Thanksgiving, joining the likes of Clint Longley, Jason Garrett and even Tony Romo just last year."I'm like, 'Is this going to happen again?"' Hurd said. "God says never say anything negative, so I'm thinking positive all day that I'm going to have a big game."
PETERSON PRACTICING: Adrian Peterson was on the field for the first part of Minnesota's practice on Wednesday, participating in light individual drills with his teammates.
After working out without pain in his injured right knee the past two days, Peterson took the next step in his recovery from a partially torn lateral collateral ligament.
Coach Brad Childress said he considered Peterson upgraded from the "long shot" status he assigned the NFL's leading rusher earlier in the week regarding his readiness to play against the New York Giants. Still, the rookie must have another MRI test before he can be cleared and is unlikely to be in uniform on Sunday."I don't put any restrictions on him. Nothing surprises me with what that kid does," Childress said, adding: "I am always on the pessimistic side, but I acquiesce to the medical side and that is the next step."
HENRY STARTS SUSPENSION: Tennessee running back Chris Henry dropped his appeal Wednesday and started serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
His agent Josh Luchs confirmed that Henry dropped his appeal, scheduled to be heard on Monday, in a move that would allow the rookie to return for the Titans' final two games of the regular season.
Henry was notified before the Titans' 20-7 win over Carolina on Nov. 4 that he tested positive for a substance added to the league's banned list within the past year. He appealed the suspension and played in losses to Jacksonville and at Denver.But Chris Brown returned and played at Denver after missing four games with a high left ankle sprain.
MCNABB MISSES PRACTICE: Donovan McNabb didn't need a cane or crutches to walk around, and he joked that ballet dancing was part of his rehab routine.
His sense of humor is intact, though a gimpy ankle and sore thumb could keep the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback on the sideline when the Eagles visit New England on Sunday.
McNabb didn't practice Wednesday because of a sprained right ankle and a swollen thumb sustained in Philadelphia's 17-7 win over Miami. McNabb hurt the thumb on his throwing hand early and left after injuring his ankle in the second quarter.
A.J. Feeley led the Eagles to a pair of touchdowns and would start against the Patriots if McNabb can't play.