Struggling Panthers QB Delhomme has broken finger

Struggling Panthers QB Delhomme has broken finger

Credit: AP

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme is sacked by New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace during the third quarter an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J. Delhomme was sacked three times as the Jets won 17-6. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


by MIKE CRANSTON / Associated Press

Posted on November 30, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 30 at 4:59 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- A broken finger -- not coach John Fox -- may bench struggling Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme.

Fox said Monday that Delhomme fractured a finger on his throwing hand late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the New York Jets and may be replaced by untested Matt Moore next week against Tampa Bay

Delhomme threw four more interceptions against the Jets, completing only 14 of 34 passes for 130 yards with a passer rating of 12.7. The Panthers (4-7) didn't score a touchdown in the 17-6 loss that virtually eliminated them from playoff contention.

Delhomme has a career-high 18 interceptions this season, tied with Detroit rookie Matthew Stafford for second-most in the NFL behind Chicago's Jay Cutler (20). Fox considered benching Delhomme a month ago after he threw three picks in a loss to Buffalo, but decided against it.

Fox was again supportive of his beleaguered QB on Monday, despite another game where he struggled with his accuracy.

"If his finger wasn't an issue, I couldn't with a straight face make a change just with him," Fox said. "That was a combined effort by the offensive players, not just one player. ... It was poor not just by the quarterback."

Delhomme had an interception returned for a touchdown when Steve Smith ran the wrong route and Delhomme's pass bounced off his heel into the hands of Darrelle Revis, who raced 67 yards. Delhomme was also under pressure for most of the day and was sacked three times.

Fox said Delhomme was injured when his hand got hit while throwing a 24-yard pass to Dwayne Jarrett on fourth-and-14 with 2:25 left. Fox wouldn't say which finger was broken, but said they didn't know the severity of Delhomme's injury until Monday morning, when he was examined before Carolina watched the film of another ugly loss.

"Obviously we didn't do a good enough job preparing them," Fox said of the overall offensive performance, which produced only 179 yards. "We weren't ready to play and that starts with coaching, all the way down to the players' responsibility."

Fox said Delhomme would be "hard-pressed" for Delhomme to take snaps at practice on Wednesday. That could leave Moore as Carolina's starter for the first time since late in the 2007 season when Delhomme was recovering from elbow surgery.

The 6-foot-3 Moore, who went undrafted out of Oregon State, played in nine games as a rookie with three starts, throwing three touchdowns and five interceptions. Moore didn't appear in a game last season and has played in only one game this year, throwing a single incomplete pass against Arizona after Delhomme was shaken up.

"We haven't had a chance to see a whole lot of him in live play lately," Fox said. "I think he's capable of making all the throws, has the height, weight and arm strength you look for.

"The quarterback position is about decision-making, and until you get in there in live situations, you really never know. And he hasn't had that opportunity a lot."

The injury could provide a needed break for Delhomme, who hasn't been the same since throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble in last season's playoff loss to Arizona.

The Panthers gave the 34-year-old a lucrative contract extension in the offseason, but he's looked far from the QB that led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2003 and a berth in the NFC championship game a year later.

Delhomme's 59.4 passer rating ranks 31st in the NFL and his 55.5 completion percentage is below his 59.7 career mark entering this season.

His previous career high for interceptions was 16 in the 2003 and '05 seasons.