Rumors: Delhomme Out, Weis to Carolina?

Jake Delhomme has gone from starting the Super Bowl against the Patiots to sitting on the bench. After he broke his finger last week given the season he's had, that may be all the team needs to decide they've seen enough. Rumor No. 2: Charlie Weis needs a home, and it's just possible the Panthers are ready to give him one.

With Jake Delhomme likely out with a broken finger on his right throwing hand, Matt Moore will get a chance to show the Carolina Panthers he can be a long-term answer for them at quarterback.

The third-year quarterback said earlier this week he's not the same green-behind-the-ears kid who led the quarterback-deprived Panthers to a 2-1 record in three meaningless regular season games to close the 2007 season.

Now in his third season, Moore thinks he's much better suited to lead the offense.

We'll find out on Sunday when he starts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and possibly in the weeks that follow against tougher opponents like New England, Minnesota, the New York Giants and New Orleans.

"We've started Matt Moore before," coach John Fox said. "He stepped in and did a pretty decent job. We've had more time with him now. We'll go from there. We haven't got a chance to see him in a whole lot of the live play lately. I think he's capable of making all of the throws.

"He's got 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. I think he prepares hard and he'll definitely give his best effort."

Moore's first opportunity to play came at a crazy time in Panthers history. After shuffling through the likes of Delhomme, David Carr and even former Buccaneer/Brown/Jet/Patriot Vinny Testaverde, the Panthers literally had no other option than to start Moore, an undrafted rookie they'd claimed off waivers from Dallas earlier in the year who still was a bit lost when it came to the offense. He went into those games with a scaled-down, paper-thin playbook designed to make things easy for him. He didn't put up great numbers, but his two wins have become the stuff of legend to so-called Jake haters who insist Moore is the answer, or at the very least, a better option for the Panthers at quarterback.

Moore said he's much more prepared this time around.

"I mean, a ton," Moore said of how much more comfortable he is with the team's offense now compared to 2007. "I was here four games before I got in here before, and I'm going on my third year now. I feel good, I feel ready. If it comes to that, we'll find out soon enough. But I feel good."

Moore hasn't changed his approach since 2007, remaining supportive of Delhomme.

Moore stumbled through an unproductive preseason in 2008 and dropped to third-string on the depth chart after he broke his leg in the final exhibition game against Pittsburgh, prompting Panthers general manager Marty Hurney to trade for Josh McCown. He remained the No. 3 guy until earlier in the year when McCown went on IR with an injury.

On Monday, the laid-back Moore said of the prospect of starting this week, "I'm going to prepare and be ready to go if called upon."

Moore is expected to get the bulk of snaps during practice, although the team will need to get A.J. Feeley ready too, just in case.

"I've been here before, obviously," Moore said. "All I can do is prepare and get ready, and if it's the case that I've got to go, then I've got to go. The week will go by, the game will go by, we'll do everything the same and just get ready."

So far this season Moore has completed 6 of 12 passes for 63 yards with one interception. For his career, Moore has a quarterback rating of 63.5, completing 69 of 123 passes for 793 yards, with three touchdowns and six interceptions.

New England Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, right, sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2004. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Former Super Bowl QB On the Out?

Jake Delhomme seems resigned to the fact that he won't play this week after breaking the middle finger on his right throwing hand. Although he wouldn't go so far as to rule himself out for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay (coach John Fox wouldn't like that), Delhomme admitted he'd be "hard-pressed to grip a football" anytime soon which means Matt Moore will get the start.

Delhomme said he realized shortly after the game that he'd broken his finger.

"I knew on the plane Sunday night coming back home. The trainers we're aware of it Sunday," Delhomme said. "You know if you've got a bruise and whatnot. We kind of knew we'd have to take (an X-ray) of it Monday morning."

Delhomme said the injury occurred with 2:25 left in the game against the New York Jets when his hand collided with onrushing Jets defender Calvin Pace.

"They were coming all out, and he was coming," Delhomme said. "I threw it and his hand, it went toward my pinkie. So that was the deal there. I kind of felt it at that point, but you just kind of go. I had a decent idea after I showered. It wasn't feeling quite normal."

Coach John Fox said Delhomme's finger has plenty of swelling.

"It (ball) is a little harder to grip," Fox said. "Grip is fairly important when you're throwing the ball. It is his throwing hand ... which makes it a little more difficult. We'll see what he can tolerate as we go forward."

When asked what is harder for Delhomme, taking a snap or throwing the ball, Fox replied, "They are both issues."

The trouble for Delhomme is if Matt Moore can guide the Panthers to some wins. Delhomme's penchant for throwing interceptions could work him out of a job. Delhomme has thrown just 8 touchdowns and a career-high 18 interceptions after just 11 games this season. His 178 completions in 321 attempts (55.5 %) for 2,015 yards ranks 22nd in the league. His 59.4 QB rating has him just above JaMarcus Russell (47.7) and Derek Anderson (36.2), both of whom have been benched for their ineffective play.

After signing Delhomme to a a 5-year extension for $42.5 million with 20 milllion guaranteed this spring, it's unlikely the Panthers would seriously consider pulling the plug on their signal caller. If Delhomme doesn't find a way to turn his TD-INT ration around, he may force them to rethink their decision.

Looking At Charlie

When John Fox was hired as head coach here in 2002, he tried to lure his old buddy Charlie Weis away from New England to be his offensive coordinator.

However, Weis elected to stay in New England and two years later helped the Patriots beat Fox and the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

With Weis unemployed after being fired by Notre Dame and Carolina's offense struggling, Fox was asked if he might consider adding Weis to his staff next season.

"Right now we have a full staff," Fox said. "Those types of things aren't done until after the season. But Charlie Weis is a very good football coach."

Of course, the bigger question might be if Fox will be around next season.

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