Panthers QB Delhomme questionable with thumb injury

Wednesday, December 6th 2006, 2:07 pm

By: News On 6

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme missed practice Wednesday because of a sprained right thumb and is questionable for this weekend's game against the New York Giants.

Delhomme was injured Monday night when his throwing hand hit a helmet on his 9-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith in the first quarter. Delhomme kept playing, and coach John Fox said he wasn't aware of the injury until after the game.

``It's something he dealt with. It was a lot more sore after the game,'' Fox said.

Fox said X-rays after the game were negative and an MRI on Tuesday showed no serious damage.

Backup Chris Weinke took the snaps with the first team Wednesday. If Delhomme can't play Sunday, Weinke would make his first NFL start since 2001.

Delhomme has come under fire lately. He threw two fourth-quarter interceptions against the Eagles, the last coming in the end zone with 25 seconds left that preserved Philadelphia's 27-24 win.

Fox was unsure if Delhomme's thumb injury affected his play in the second half. Fox has insisted that Delhomme will remain the starter if he's healthy, and had a discussion with his quarterback.

``It had nothing to do with assurance. I reminded him in this business we're under attack and that's why were well compensated,'' Fox said. ``No matter what kind of facade you put up, if you're a human it bothers you. It was just to cheer him up with all the criticism he was taking. It's tough on any person.''

Delhomme has made 65 consecutive starts, including playoff games, since taking over for Rodney Peete at halftime of the 2003 season opener. Because of his durability, Weinke has played little and hasn't started since the final game of Carolina's 1-15 season in 2001.

Delhomme is at the top of a long injury report for Carolina. Safety Mike Minter (knee), tight end Kris Mangum (hip), cornerback Ken Lucas (hamstring) and running back Nick Goings (shoulder) all missed practice Wednesday and are listed as questionable.

Running back DeShaun Foster, who missed the past two games with a sprained elbow, practiced Wednesday and is listed as probable. Fox said if Foster is healthy he'll start ahead of rookie DeAngelo Williams on Sunday.

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