Carolina Panthers

Panthers won, but at what cost?

ATLANTA -- The win soothed the wounds for a moment, but the Carolina Panthers still left the Georgia Dome on Sunday night unsure about the status of two of their captains for next week's game against Tampa Bay.

Quarterback Jake Delhomme left the game with what he said might be a sprained elbow late in the third quarter, and middle linebacker Dan Morgan was unable to finish after sustaining a trio of injuries.

It would be hard at this point to call either of them likely to play next week, but they'll undergo tests back home today to determine the severity of the damage.

Delhomme left the game after completing a pass to Brad Hoover late in the third quarter, but said the elbow began really bothering him two plays earlier, when he was sacked on a third down but the Panthers got another chance on an Atlanta penalty. He said it was even before the game-tying touchdown pass to Jeff King, but he knew he couldn't go on after clutching his elbow in pain after not being hit at all.

"I don't know if my reaction showed it or not, but I knew something wasn't right about it," Delhomme said.

Backup David Carr finished the game, completing 3-of-4 passes but mostly just handing off to a running game that sealed things.

While Delhomme's might be the more serious in terms of impact on the team, Morgan at least gets the bulk rate.

He left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder problem, then came back before suffering a hamstring strain and a problem with his heel later.

Morgan left under his own power in the first quarter, after flying over the top of Atlanta running back Jerious Norwood trying to make a tackle. He immediately knelt down and removed his helmet, but then returned to the Panthers' sideline and jogged halfway around the perimeter of the field to the tunnel leading to the locker room.

He said he changed harnesses, switching from a lighter model that was protecting an earlier, less severe injury. After the Panthers finished that series and another without him, Morgan returned to the field midway through the second quarter.

Instead of moving rookie Jon Beason inside in Morgan's absence, the Panthers brought backup James Anderson in to play the middle. Anderson's played both outside spots, but hasn't even practiced in the middle prior to this week. They were without backup middle linebacker Adam Seward, who was inactive with a calf injury.

Then midway through the third, Morgan's leg gave out as he was being called on a facemask penalty on Norwood, and that's the one he didn't come back from.

When asked if he thought he'd be able to play next week, Morgan shrugged.

"It's too early to tell right now," Morgan said. "It's frustrating, but what are you going to do."

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