Thursday was a tough day for NFL starting quarterbacks.
The Detroit Lions placed rookie Matthew Stafford on injured reserve ahead of what the team calls minor right knee surgery, and the Carolina Panthers gave up on trying to rehabilitate the broken finger on Jake Delhomme’s throwing hand and also placed him on IR.
It means the season has ended for both players – not exactly tidings of great joy.
Coach Jim Schwartz said Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, was to have undergone the surgery after the season. But the Lions elected to shut down his season after a physical exam indicated he wouldn’t be ready to play in the Jan. 3 season finale against Chicago.
Third-year quarterback Drew Stanton will make his first NFL start Sunday against the 49ers in San Francisco.
Stafford injured his non-throwing left shoulder while leading a fourth-quarter comeback that lifted Detroit to a 38-37 victory over Cleveland on Nov. 22. He aggravated the injury in a Dec. 6 loss at Cincinnati, but Schwartz said Stafford’s recovery is “on course” and he won’t undergo surgery on the shoulder.
Stafford completed 201 of 377 passes (53.3 percent) for 2,267 yards and 13 touchdowns, a record for a Lions rookie.
For Delhomme, the roster move ends his worst season as a pro and raises questions about his future with the Panthers. After signing a $25 million contract in the offseason, he has played poorly, tossing 18 interceptions – with only eight touchdown passes – in 11 games before the injury.
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. 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.
The Colts put receiver Anthony Gonzalez o
• injured reserve, ending his season. Gonzalez, who sprained ligaments in his right knee in the season opener and then had arthroscopic surgery, practiced Monday but sat out Wednesday, prompting the announcement. ... Raiders fullback Luke Lawton has been suspended four games without pay by the NFL for violating the league’s policy against performance enhancing substances. ... Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has been fined $10,000 by the NFL and New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs has been hit for $7,500 for an altercation in Monday’s game. Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams was fined $5,000 for a low tackle on Panthers QB Matt Moore. ... Two days after waiving veteran kicker John Carney, the Saints hired him as a kicking consultant to mentor young Garrett Hartley.