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SPORTS WEEKEND | Around the NFC / WEST

Panthers Just Can't Stand Any Draft

November 27, 1998

It's time to pull the drafting credentials of the Panthers' front office. Three of the team's six first-rounders in its short franchise history are no longer on the field now that wide receiver Rae Carruth has been put on injured reserve.

Carruth, the team's first-rounder in 1997, hadn't caught a pass since the season-opener against Atlanta because of a broken bone in his foot. The Panthers released quarterback Kerry Collins, and traded cornerback Tyrone Poole to the Colts. Running back Tshimanga Biakabutuka, while still with the team, has been a bust. Left tackle Blake Brockermeyer might be sidelined this week because of an injury, and Jason Peter, whom the Panthers took ahead of Randy Moss and the Packers' sensational defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday, held out 37 days for a contract, suffered torn biceps, then a broken hand after hitting a teammate in the helmet.

Don't look for wide receiver Sean Dawkins to be back with the Saints if Mike Ditka remains coach. After catching eight passes against the 49ers but fumbling twice, he took heat from Ditka.

"So he catches eight," Ditka said. "So what? Two fumbles, three dropped balls. Now you tell me what that is. Is that a good trade-off? I don't think so."

Something to watch: The 49ers fell behind by at least 10 points in six of their last eight games. They are 5-3 in those games.

CENTRAL / Moses Will Attempt to Climb Mountain

He was the 232nd player taken in the draft, hardly the kind of guy to lead the Bears to the Promised Land, but he's named Moses. Moses Moreno, a seventh-round pick out of Colorado State, will start for the Bears.

"I'm a seventh-round draft pick, I was 10 picks from going unnoticed, so right now I'm just making the most of this opportunity," Moreno said. "I was happy to get drafted, I was happy to make the roster, and now I'm overwhelmed and excited that I'm getting the opportunity this weekend."

The Packers' 345-pound nose tackle Gilbert Brown has made five solo tackles in 11 games--runners will do anything to avoid being flattened by all that weight.

Minnesota wide receiver Jake Reed complained to the team's trainer of weakness in his left calf at halftime, returned to the field and just fell down while trying to run a pass route. An MRI revealed a herniated disk, prompting surgery, and thereby destroying the most potent three wide receiver set in the NFL.

Smelling salts, please. "I'm still convinced we can make the playoffs," Buccaneer fullback Mike Alstott said, although his team is 4-7 after losing three in a row. "I'm very convinced."

EAST / Brace Yourselves for This Surprise

Shocking. Amazing. The Cardinals? They would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. In his last four games, quarterback Jake Plummer has completed 85 of 139 passes for 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Cardinals haven't been to the playoffs in a non-strike year since 1975, but they put playoff tickets on sale Tuesday.

The Giants act like a team auditioning for residence in the NFC West every time they play the 49ers. The Giants haven't scored a touchdown in their last four games in San Francisco. The last Giant to score a touchdown in San Francisco was wide receiver Odessa Turner, who caught a seven-yard pass from Phil Simms midway through the fourth quarter of a Monday night game on Nov. 27, 1989.

Something to shoot for: The Seahawks hold the record for fewest points scored in a 16-game season--140 in '92. The Eagles have scored 92, putting them on a pace to score 134, and now they are expected to start Koy Detmer at quarterback, giving Green Bay a chance to shut them out.

Denver's Terrell Davis has scored more than Philadelphia--108.

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