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NFC notes

Wire services
Published January 3, 2004

COWBOYS: Quarterback Quincy Carter, who has no playoff experience, is expected to face heavy pressure tonight from the Panthers, but he showed in a regular-season victory he can handle it. Carter had one of his best games, throwing for 254 yards and only one interception.

Carter has a touchdown pass in six consecutive games.

"Well, he's extremely talented, not only with his arm, but also with his feet," Panthers coach John Fox said. "Like most young players, sometimes consistency can be a problem. I know, in our game, he was on fire, so that's what I've seen of him, and that's what we're getting ready for and expecting. We know we're going to have our hands full."

PACKERS: All the starters were back on the field, with six returning to practice: wideouts Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson, cornerbacks Mike McKenzie and Al Harris, linebacker Na'il Diggs and nose tackle Gilbert Brown.

But defensive end Chukie Nwokorie, who cracked a bone in his right wrist last weekend, remained sidelined and likely won't play Sunday against the Seahawks.

The only other backup end is Jamal Reynolds, who has been inactive for nine weeks.

Linebacker Marcus Wilkins (calf) and offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer (sick) missed practice. Their status is uncertain. Diggs (shoulder), Driver (ankle), Ferguson (Achilles') and Brown (knee) all expect to play.

Brett Favre, who broke his right thumb Oct.19, continued to practice without a splint and doesn't plan to use one in the game.

Coach Mike Sherman expects Harris (knee) and McKenzie, who has missed two games with a turf toe, to start.

PANTHERS: One big question tonight will be whether running back Stephen Davis can get a second wind against the Cowboys. He had a big first half of the season with six 100-yard games, but was bothered by a nagging ankle injury and missed two games. He ran for 452 yards after amassing 992 in the first eight games.

The Panthers undoubtedly will try their best to reestablish Davis as the centerpiece of their offense. But they are facing a fast, swarming defense that ranked third in the league against the run and first overall this season. And the Cowboys will be intent on stopping Davis, as they did when they beat the Panthers in November at Texas Stadium. Davis had 59 yards on 26 carries.

"They've got other weapons than Stephen Davis," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "But the balance of their attack centers around the running game."

SEAHAWKS: When Seattle played the Packers Oct.5 at Lambeau Field, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck did everything possible to keep his emotions under control for his first game in Green Bay since being traded to Seattle in 2001.

He is re-evaluating that decision this week, he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"I think one of the things that really hurt me the first time around is everyone in the building was telling me, "You need to guard your emotions. You need to settle down. You need to relax,"' Hasselbeck said of Seattle's 35-13 loss. "I played the game that way and I don't think I did anything great.

"I didn't do anything terrible, but didn't make a difference in the game. I don't think that's a good way to play. So I'm just going to go out and play with emotion and try to make something happen."

Since beginning play in 1976, the coldest game the team has played in was 22 degrees at Denver in 2000. Seattle is 2-9 when the temperature is 34 degrees or below. The forecast calls for a high of 24 Sunday in Green Bay, Wis.

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