FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora believes quarterback Michael Vick and defensive end John Abraham will start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers even though both players are injured.
Abraham had surgery today to have a pin placed in his left thumb after he tore ligaments in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. According to Mora, Abraham will wear a cast and start against Carolina. Vick, who limped off the field on the Falcons' final possession Saturday night, continues to undergo treatment at team headquarters.
Matt Schaub would start if Vick can't. Atlanta (7-7) has lost three straight home games for the first time since Dan Reeves' final season in 2003. The Panthers (6-8) dropped their fourth consecutive game overall last week with an embarrassing performance against Pittsburgh.
Neither team has played well in N-F-C games. In their last seven matchups with conference opponents, the Falcons have four losses and Carolina five. Before 2005, Atlanta had beaten the Panthers in eight of nine tries, but Carolina swept the division series last season.
The Falcons won the season opener in Charlotte 20-to-6 behind Vick and Abraham.