CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme missed practice again Thursday with ligament damage in the thumb on his throwing hand, increasing the chance backup Chris Weinke will start on Sunday against the New York Giants.

“It’s just real sore,” Delhomme said. “There’s a lot of swelling and we’re trying to get the swelling out. I think the big issue is strength and how much strength I have in it.”

Delhomme said although he’s having trouble gripping the ball, he may try to practice on Friday.

Coach John Fox said the ligament is stretched and not torn off the bone, which is why he doesn’t need surgery. Fox didn’t rule out that Delhomme, could still play on Sunday.

Delhomme was injured when his right hand hit Eagles defensive tackle Darwin Walker’s helmet on his 9-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith in the first quarter of Monday’s loss to Philadelphia.

Delhomme continued to play and threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, the last coming in the end zone with 25 seconds left.

Delhomme, who also missed practice on Wednesday, hasn’t missed a game since he took over for Rodney Peete at halftime of the 2003 season opener.

The 34-year-old Weinke hasn’t been a full-time starter since the 2001 season and has thrown only 13 passes in four seasons. He could be forced into duty in a critical game for the Panthers, who at 6-6 are tied with the Giants and two other teams in the NFC wild-card race.

Also Thursday, tight end Kris Mangum (hip) and safety Mike Minter (knee) returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s workout. Both are still listed as questionable.

Running back Nick Goings (shoulder) and cornerback Ken Lucas (hamstring) missed practice for a second straight day and remain questionable.

Running back DeShaun Foster, who has missed the past two games with a hyperextended elbow, practiced and remains probable.

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