Delhomme misses practice; Wahle goes on IR

If the floundering Carolina Panthers were seeking some good news this week, it certainly wasn't delivered on Wednesday, as starting quarterback Jake Delhomme once again missed practice and starting left guard Mike Wahle was placed on inured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Delhomme, who has missed the past two games, continues to struggle with a partially torn ligament in his right thumb and is questionable for Sunday's game at Atlanta. The eight-year veteran, whose future with the Panthers has suddenly become a subject of rampant speculation, will almost certainly be replaced by Chris Weinke for a third straight week.

Wahle has battled problems with his right shoulder much of the year and missed one game because of the problem, but the move to injured reserve was somewhat surprising and could be a reflection of the fact that the Panthers have been all but eliminated from the NFC wild-card race.

The Panthers also placed starting right defensive end Mike Rucker on injured reserve with two torn ligaments in his left knee, a move that was anticipated.

Carolina elevated offensive lineman Dave Kadela and fullback Steven Jackson from the practice squad to fill the two roster spots created by the injured reserve maneuvers.

A durable, nine-year veteran, Wahle ranks among the NFL's premier guards and has started in all but one game since signing with the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent in the spring of 2005. Wahle, 29, spent his first seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers, who chose the former Navy star in the second round of the 1998 supplemental draft.

He earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2005, but Wahle's performance slipped a bit this season, principally because of the shoulder problem. Coach John Fox revealed that Wahle has a torn labrum that will require surgery in the next week or two. That could force Wahle, who has appeared in 126 games and started 112 during his career, to miss part of the offseason conditioning program.

"[Wahle] gave it his best effort, but it just finally came to an end," Fox said. "He's got some things going on with the shoulder that have to be addressed."

Rookie Will Montgomery, a seventh-round draft choice, will probably replace Wahle in the lineup.

Delhomme is still holding out hope that he will be able to play again this season, perhaps even this week, but time is running out on him.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.