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Former Football: Panther QB Delhomme to have surgery

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Jake Delhomme last week called surgery on his strained right elbow "a last resort."

After experiencing pain trying to throw on Monday, the Carolina Panthers quarterback decided the worst-case scenario couldn’t be avoided.

Delhomme will have season-ending ligament-replacement surgery on his elbow next week, leaving the Panthers without their leader on offense and scrambling to find another quarterback.

"Anytime you lose your starting quarterback it’s a blow," coach John Fox said.

Originally injured two weeks ago, Delhomme didn’t show any improvement when trying to throw Monday. A day earlier he threw briefly on the side while sitting out Carolina’s win over the Saints.

"I think (Sunday) he was just trying to see how it felt," Fox said. "Today he really pushed it and experienced some of the same discomfort he had during the Atlanta game."

Delhomme left Bank of America Stadium Monday without speaking to reporters. His agent, Rick Smith, said the recovery time is seven to nine months.

"It certainly gives Jake enough time to rehab it in the offseason and be back for next season," general manager Marty Hurney said.

The Panthers are left in a precarious position, as Delhomme’s backup, David Carr, is also banged up.

Carr, signed in the offseason after being a five-year starter in Houston, sustained a back injury against the Saints and his status for Sunday’s game at Arizona is uncertain.

"David is definitely sore," Fox said. "He’s still being evaluated."

The only other QB on the roster is undrafted rookie Matt Moore, who completed a 43-yard pass against the Saints while briefly subbing for Carr in the first half. Quinton Porter was signed two weeks ago to the practice squad.

Hurney said Monday night they were still evaluating the available quarterbacks. He said none were scheduled to work out on Tuesday.

Delhomme sustained what the team called a strained right elbow when he was sacked by John Abraham in Carolina’s win over Atlanta on Sept. 23. Delhomme stayed in the game until the next series, when he winced in pain and clutched his elbow after throwing a short pass to fullback Brad Hoover.

Carr replaced him, then started the next two games when Delhomme was listed as the No. 3 quarterback.

Before the injury, Delhomme was off to a quick start. After struggling last season, he completed 64 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and one interception in the first three games. His passer rating of 111.9 was tied for third in the NFL after Week 3.

As early as last week, Delhomme talked of being hopeful he could avoid surgery. But the pain he experienced Monday made the decision for him.

"Jake is very honest and forthright, a very tough individual," Fox said. "But when you don’t have your fastball, it’s tough."

Delhomme became Carolina’s long-term starter after humble beginnings. He played two seasons in NFL Europe and spent four seasons as a backup in New Orleans where he played in only six games.

But he was signed by Carolina before the 2003 season, then replaced an ineffective Rodney Peete at halftime of the opener. He led Carolina to a comeback win, and remained the starter through the run to the Super Bowl.

The 32-year-old Delhomme, who made the Pro Bowl two years later, started a team-record 60 straight games before missing two games late last season with ligament damage in his thumb.

Now, if healthy, Carr will lead Carolina for the rest of the season.

Carr has completed just over 50 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also been sacked five times in two games.

The Panthers beat the Saints on Sunday in spite of their offense. New Orleans outgained them 341 yards to 243 and dominated time of possession.

So a week after defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said the Panthers had "no heart," they’ll be tested again without their fiery leader.

"Jake was playing very well. I think that’s pretty well documented," Fox said. "He’s not only our starting quarterback, but what he brings to our football team will be missed."