The Eagles made the roster move to clear space for Jeff Garcia, and it was a stunner: right tackle Shawn Andrews is being placed on injured reserve, ending his season, with a back injury that the team previously had described as merely a matter of calming down spasmed muscles.
The second roster move of the day was a little less shocking, but still headline-worthy. The Birds put Michael Vick on the roster from the exempt list, so that he might practice in advance of being reinstated for Week 3. To make that move, the team released wideout Hank Baskett, after reportedly trying to trade him last night.
In a statement about the Andrews move, coach Andy Reid said, “It’s disappointing to lose any player for the entire season, but we have full confidence in the other lineman we have on this roster to help this team succeed. We wish Shawn all the best as he recovers and rehabilitates from this injury.”
Agent Rich Moran, contacted by your Eagletarian, was unaware of the move.
"That must have just happened. There's been some discussions since Shawn reinjured his back," Moran said.
Moran was asked if Andrews has been examined by Dr. Robert Watkins, the California surgeon who operated on him last season and performed some sort of procedure in mid-August that Andrews said made his pain go away. Andrews was poised to start the season at right tackle, until his back tightened up again following last Wednesday's practice.
"I'm not gonna get into his medical stuff," Moran said. "I need to get ahold of Shawn."
This move, aside from leaving Winston Justice as the Eagles' apparently permanent starting right tackle, is a possibly fatal blow to the Eagles career of the 2004 first-round pick, who battled depression before last season, then was injured in the second game and never returned.
Andrews talked in the preseason of proving wrong critics who wondered if his back problems were really in his head, if he had a passion for football. Now he will not be doing that, at least, not this season.
He will have plenty of time, however, to get his "Michael Phelps" on.
Reid gambled that Andrews' back and his psyche would hold up well enough to move from right guard to the more important right tackle position. Reid brought in Shawn's brother, right guard Stacy Andrews, and his college teammate from Arkansas, left tackle Jason Peters, at least in part to help provide support for Shawn Andrews. Reid lost the gamble, though Stacy Andrews and Jason Peters look like very good players.
A team source indicated yesterday that no more roster moves are planned today, meaning no Jon Runyan signing right now. Runyan and agent Ben Dogra did not immediately respond to requests for comment. If the Eagles think Justice really can play, bringing in Runyan, the starter at right tackle from 2000-08, might be problematic, might create an uncomfortable situation.
There also is the matter of Runyan's offseason microfracture surgery, as he nears his 36th birthday. We know he has worked out for the Chiefs, Eagles and Bills, and that so far, none of those teams has signed him. Did he seem ready to play? Nobody really knows, or at least, nobody is saying.
It seems pretty clear that Andrews' future with the Eagles is in serious doubt. The story on the team Web site contains the following assessment: "Despite receiving medical clearance from back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins late in the summer, Andrews was unable to overcome back pain to get on the field in the days leading up to the opening game of the regular season in Carolina. Andrews missed the entire training camp and the preseason after tweaking his surgically-repaired back during the conditioning tests upon reporting to Lehigh University and didn't start practicing again until just before the final preseason game against the Jets."
Wow. "Despite getting medical clearance ..." -- that's as close as you'll ever see to a team saying "this guy does not want to play and we're tired of his act."
Andrews has not responded to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, new quarterback Garcia, assigned jersey No. 9 for this latest go-round with the Eagles, is at NovaCare today and was scheduled to appear before the TV cameras -- last night's conference call with reporters wasn't great TV -- at 1 p.m.