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Saints QB Derek Carr clears concussion protocol, expected to start Sunday vs. Panthers

New Orleans should have its four-time Pro Bowler under center on Sunday against Carolina.

Saints quarterback Derek Carr, who the team announced passed concussion protocol late Friday afternoon, is expected to start versus the 1-11 Panthers, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

The team made Carr available for a pool report by Luke Johnson of the New Orleans Advocate/New Orleans Times-Picayune following the QB's clearance.

"Yeah, absolutely," Carr said when asked if he's comfortable with the amount he was able to prepare for Carolina, per the report. "It was a few more hours, maybe, into the day. But those are the sacrifices you make, especially this late in the year when everyone is dealing with stuff. Everyone has got a broken something, dealing with this or dealing with that. I got my treatment, I did my protocol stuff, but I also, most importantly, made sure that I did everything I need to do to accomplish my job."

Carr was dealing with a litany of ailments following a Week 13 loss to the Lions that saw him exit early due to the concussion and injuries to his rib and right shoulder.

Still, Carr was able to log limited practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, and he participated in full on Friday before receiving a questionable designation.

The 32-year-old has now left three different games during his inaugural season in the Big Easy. He's twice been in concussion protocol, and he also suffered an AC joint sprain in a Week 3 loss to the Packers.

Carr noted in the pool report that he has no concerns after his second time through the protocol this year, during which he underwent extra tests.

Despite the several early departures, he's been on the field for every start, throwing for 2,761 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions while leading the Saints to a 5-7 record.

With New Orleans still just one game back amid a three-team race for the NFC South, it's vital to be able to count on Carr to keep pace with the winner of Sunday's contest between the Buccaneers (5-7) and Falcons (6-6).

Carr will look to do just that, but the availability of some of his best offensive weapons remains up in the air. Wide receiver Chris Olave didn't practice Thursday or Friday due to an illness and is listed as questionable, while Taysom Hill, also questionable, sat out the entire week due to foot and left hand injuries.

The Saints and Panthers square off Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

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