"But I know if I'm going to be effective or not. We're trying to get a win, so if I'm going to be out there hurting the team. ... Well, I'm not hard-headed enough to go out and hurt the team."">
"But I know if I'm going to be effective or not. We're trying to get a win, so if I'm going to be out there hurting the team. ... Well, I'm not hard-headed enough to go out and hurt the team."">

Inside Slant

"I haven't tested it or anything like that," Delhomme said. "But the team is the most important thing. If I think I can go out there and be effective, definitely I'm going.<br><br> "But I know if I'm going to be effective or not. We're trying to get a win, so if I'm going to be out there hurting the team. ... Well, I'm not hard-headed enough to go out and hurt the team."

With 11 players already on injured reserve and 11 more listed on this week's injury report, the Panthers have plenty to be concerned about entering Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

But there's no more pressing concern than the status of quarterback Jake Delhomme, who is questionable with a hairline fracture in his right (throwing) thumb. He hasn't thrown a football since leading the Panthers to a 37-27 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

At this point, however, Panthers head coach John Fox is preparing as if Delhomme will be ready.

"Right now, the plan is it will be Jake (starting) and we'll see how the week goes," Fox said.

Asked if he thinks he'll be ready, Delhomme replied, "Certainly I'm optimistic, but I don't know yet."

His thumb was bandaged on Wednesday and remains quite sore.

"I haven't tested it or anything like that," Delhomme said. "But the team is the most important thing. If I think I can go out there and be effective, definitely I'm going.

"But I know if I'm going to be effective or not. We're trying to get a win, so if I'm going to be out there hurting the team. ... Well, I'm not hard-headed enough to go out and hurt the team."

In the meantime, Rodney Peete and Chris Weinke split reps at quarterback during practice while Delhomme looked on.

Fox wouldn't say who would start if Delhomme can't play. Peete has been listed as No. 2 on the depth chart all season.

Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, for one, doesn't seem too worried.

"I think Jake will play, I really do," he said.

Asked he could have thrown on Wednesday, Delhomme said, "I don't know. I didn't try. I'm usually the kind that forces the issue. But they've really asked me not to mess with it."

Delhomme would certainly like to be back on the field Sunday, especially given his recent hot streak.

Over the last two games he's thrown for 602 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. He even threw one touchdown pass after sustaining the injury to his thumb in the fourth quarter of the 49ers game.

At one point Sunday, Delhomme considered telling backup Peete to begin warming up on the sidelines. However, the Panthers defense came up with a turnover and Delhomme quickly returned to the huddle.

Delhomme said he didn't have a problem with gripping the football or taking a snap from center during the game. The problem was just overall pain.

"But when your adrenaline's flowing, you know, you just kind of keep going," he said.

Delhomme admitted the injury is frustrating, especially with the Panthers possibly gaining some momentum after snapping a six-game losing streak.

"It is a little frustrating, but I've been somewhat lucky with injuries throughout my whole career," Delhomme said. "This is only Wednesday, so we've got a lot of time."

Fox believes Delhomme could potentially miss the entire week of practice and still play.

"I believe he's capable of doing that," Fox said. "We'll evaluate that as we go."


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