Ryan Harris, who briefly started at right tackle after the Eagles signed him as a free agent on Aug. 2, has a herniated disk that will likely require surgery, a team source said.
Harris injured his back during the first preseason game against the Ravens on Aug. 11 and has hardly practiced since because of spasms, according to the Eagles. He did participate in a walkthrough last Saturday but was back on the shelf when the spasms returned.
Harris underwent surgery in 2006 to correct a herniated disk while he was at Notre Dame. In August of the following year just before his rookie season with the Broncos, he had a laminectomy to alleviate pinched nerves in his spinal cord.
He missed the first five games of the 2007 season after the surgery and missed 13 games between 2009-10 because of a toe injury and a high ankle sprain.
Harris has declined to comment about his injury and was unreachable on Friday. An Eagles spokesman had no comment.
Despite reports that Harris would have surgery next week a team source said a procedure wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Surgery isn’t often required for a herniated disk, according to Neel Anand, director of orthopedic surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“Normally, no, but a lot depends on how big it is, where it is and what it’s doing to the patient,” Anand said. “Having said that, a lot depends on the activity level and expectations for a high-performance athlete and surgery may be the better option.”
Anand said typically it takes four-six weeks to recover from a microdiscectomy, although Harris’ chronic back issues could make recovery longer.
The Eagles signed Harris to a one-year contract worth approximately $700,000. He looked like a bargain early in camp as he wrested the right tackle spot from King Dunlap and a cast of others with Winston Justice still recovering from knee surgery.
Justice, the incumbent, appeared to be in danger of losing his job. But with Harris injured and Dunlap a stop-gap, Eagles coach Andy Reid has recently said that Justice will start at right tackle when he’s ready.
Justice recently said that he was on track to be ready by the start of the season on Sept. 11. If he’s not ready and Dunlap falters, Reid has other options, the best of which may be moving left guard Todd Herremans to right tackle.
The team signed free agent Reggie Wells last week and said that he is competing for the right tackle spot, along with Evan Mathis, Austin Howard and Fenuki Tupou. Howard left Thursday’s game against the Browns with knee inflammation and Tupou has been out for two weeks with a knee sprain.