CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers coach John Fox passionately stuck with his assertion that quarterback Jake Delhomme was "day-to-day" Sunday, after more reports that his starter might need surgery to correct the problem with his right (throwing) elbow.
The Herald reported in Saturday's editions that surgery was a more likely possibility than anyone had previously acknowledged, with a fear that rushing back could create a worse problem for the 32-year-old quarterback. Then came a report on the Fox network's pregame show that Delhomme would need surgery, either during or after the season.
"I think there's an option that he could have surgery," Fox said. "I can't tell him what he's going to have. It's his arm and his body. But that is a possibility. You know, that could be a possibility for a lot of guys at the end of the season."
Delhomme left quickly after the game, before reporters were allowed into the locker room. He suffered the strain last week in Atlanta, when a Falcons defender tried to rip the ball away from him following a sack. He stayed in the game, throwing a touchdown pass to Jeff King, but then left the field grasping his forearm after throwing a short pass to Brad Hoover.
Last week, Delhomme also referred to a strained muscle in his forearm during training camp in 2006, though nothing was ever mentioned at the time and he never missed any time with that problem.
When Fox first talked about Delhomme's situation last Monday, he said surgery wouldn't be required, calling it a "rehab situation." But in his trademark style, he was short on specifics as they relate to injuries. Sunday, he referred back to his "day-to-day" prognosis, saying: "I don't have a crystal ball."
• JARRETT ARRIVES: Though it was largely because of injuries to others, Panthers second-round pick Dwayne Jarrett made his NFL debut Sunday.
He had been inactive the first three games, even as starter Keary Colbert and third wideout Drew Carter struggled at times.
But he finally got on the field in the second quarter --when nothing else seemed to be working -- and caught one pass for 6 yards.
"Dwayne came in and did what he had to do," quarterback David Carr said. "They had a small package for him. Obviously you are not going to give him the world to try to come in and try to execute. He was there and he caught the balls. He did a fine job.
"I'd like to see more of him and I think everyone else would, too. He's got to catch up, and once he gets it all up, he'll be ready to go."
• SMITH SILENT: Wide receiver Steve Smith was held to five catches for 32 yards, after getting just one for 10 yards in Atlanta last week.
After the game, he was asked to talk, and he said: "Has hell frozen over? I ain't talking."
• INJURY UPDATE: Fullback Nick Goings, who has been the team's primary kick returner this year, left the game with a concussion. That led them to give running back DeAngelo Williams a chance there, and he responded with a 29-yarder, which tied an earlier Goings return for the long of the season.
• EXTRA POINTS: In addition to Delhomme, the Panthers deactivated linebackers Dan Morgan and Adam Seward, offensive linemen Evan Mathis and Frank Omiyale, defensive ends Otis Grigsby and Charles Johnson and tight end Marcus Freeman. ...
Tampa Bay deactivated Spartanburg's Ryan Sims, as well as starting cornerback Brian Kelly, who was replaced by Phillip Buchanon. ...
The Panthers are now 5-5 all-time in their blue jerseys.