- The Washington Times - Friday, December 25, 2009

The Carolina Panthers placed quarterback Jake Delhomme on injured reserve Thursday with a broken finger on his throwing hand, ending his worst season as a pro and raising questions about his future with the franchise.

Delhomme said he broke the knuckle on his middle finger in a loss to the New York Jets on Nov. 29. He hasn’t played or practiced since.

Matt Moore has started the last three games and threw for a career-high 299 yards and three touchdowns in last Sunday’s upset win over Minnesota.

The Panthers promoted quarterback Hunter Cantwell from the practice squad to take Delhomme’s roster spot. A.J. Feeley is No. 2 on the depth chart.

“We thought he might be further along as far as his finger,” coach John Fox said. “We kind of looked at it this week as far as gripping the ball, throwing the ball, and it wasn’t up to speed. We felt we needed to get another quarterback up. Hunter has been with us all year.”

LIONS: The season is over for quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has been placed on injured reserve ahead of what the team calls minor right knee surgery.

Coach Jim Schwartz says the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft was to have undergone the surgery after the season. But Stafford was placed on injured reserve after a physical exam indicated he wouldn’t be ready to play in the Jan. 3 season finale against Chicago.

“We anticipate a minor surgery just to clean out some irritants and debris,” Schwartz said. “Since he’s had [the injury], he’s had on and off swelling. It’s been stuff he’s been able to play through, but it’s also something we knew we needed to address after the season.

Third-year quarterback Drew Stanton will make his first NFL start Sunday against the 49ers in San Francisco.

RAIDERS: Fullback Luke Lawton was suspended four games without pay by the NFL for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing substances.

The 29-year-old Lawton, who has played in 13 games with three starts this season, will miss the Raiders’ final two games this season and lose nearly $63,000 in pay. A free agent next year, he also would have to sit out the first two games of the 2010 regular season with whatever team he signs with.

Lawton has seven catches for 31 yards this season.

COLTS: Indianapolis put receiver Anthony Gonzalez on injured reserve, ending his season.

Gonzalez sprained ligaments in his right knee in the season opener and later had arthroscopic surgery on the knee, delaying his return.

On Monday, team president Bill Polian said on his radio show that Indianapolis hoped to have Gonzalez practice this week so he could play in the final two games of the season in preparation for the playoffs. Gonzalez practiced Monday but sat out Wednesday, prompting Thursday’s announcement.

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