CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme practiced again Friday, all but assuring he’ll start in the Panthers’ final regular season game against New Orleans.

Wearing a glove to protect his injured right thumb, Delhomme went through a full workout without difficulty at the team’s practice facility.

Delhomme suffered ligament damage when he banged his thumb against a Philadelphia player’s helmet while throwing a touchdown pass in a loss to the Eagles on Dec. 4. Delhomme missed three games before returning to practice Wednesday.

Delhomme was upgraded from questionable to probable on the injury report after practice Thursday. The Panthers are hopeful he’ll be at full strength for Sunday’s game, a must-win to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

Receiver Drew Carter (ankle) and linebacker Thomas Davis (shoulder) missed practice for a third straight day and remain questionable.

AP-ES-12-29-06 1240EST

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