Carolina Panthers

Delhomme doubtful; might need surgery

CHARLOTTE -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme's officially doubtful for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay, and there are doubts in some quarters about his status for the coming weeks.

Delhomme suffered a strained right (throwing) elbow in last week's win at Atlanta. When initially discussing the injury, coach John Fox said the injury "won't require surgery, it's a rehab situation."

However, one source with knowledge of the situation said the possibility of surgery down the line may be more real than the team's stance might indicate, and that there are concerns coming back too quickly could put Delhomme at risk of a greater injury.

When first discussing his elbow Monday, Delhomme referred to a problem he experienced in 2006, saying: "In camp, I strained a muscle in my forearm that bothered me a little bit. It could be something like that."

Delhomme was given frequent days off from throwing during that camp, but no mention was ever made of an injury. That brings into question whether the current situation is related to previous problems.

The Panthers have stuck by their long-standing policy of referring to players as "day-to-day," and team officials said Friday nothing's happened to make them change that. Delhomme's agent said earlier this week he wasn't commenting on the injury, referring all questions to the team.

When asked Friday if Delhomme risked requiring surgery by coming back too soon, general manager Marty Hurney didn't deviate far from the team's standard response.

"When you're dealing with an injury, there are all kinds of things you have to deal with," Hurney said. "You have to let things happen. That's why we say he's day-to-day. Things can change at any time."

The team must feel confident, since the only quarterback brought in this week was practice-squader Quinton Porter. They didn't even bring anyone in for a workout, a sign that could be interpreted as a feeling Delhomme could return soon.

But it's too soon to know.

Delhomme didn't practice Friday, the third straight day of not working, and hasn't tried to throw a football since last week's game. He had a generally optimistic outlook, though backup David Carr is expected to start Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Delhomme was asked if he had undergone more tests since an early week MRI.

"We've had it looked at, gone over probably too many times the different scenarios," he replied. "But the biggest thing right now is, I'm trying to rest it and get it right. So we'll see, but I'm feeling pretty good."

When asked what the "scenarios" were, he hedged.

"There's a few. I'd rather keep those to myself," he explained. "But we really don't know, honestly. And I'll probably be the only one able to tell, because naturally I know what I'm feeling or not feeling. There's a few different things, but we just don't know, because I haven't tried (to throw) yet."

Delhomme compared his situation to last year's thumb problem that kept him out three weeks, in that he didn't throw a ball for the first time until the Saturday before the game he came back.

"I'm still holding out hope," he said. "When I broke my thumb, I didn't take a snap until Saturday morning. So we'll see. I know I keep saying this, but I'm feeling better. I'm gripping the ball, feels pretty good. We'll see from there. We're just trying to rest it right now and make sure."

When asked if he had thrown, he replied: "No, and I don't want to. I don't want to do anything stupid, you know what I mean. It's really feeling good, and that's where we're at."

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