The Eagles are holding out hope that Donovan McNabb, despite having a fractured rib, will be able to play Sunday against New Orleans, but that seems to be an unlikely scenario.
"He's going to try and battle through that this week," coach Andy Reid said during his day-after-the-game press conference at the NovaCare Complex. "But we will see how things go as the week goes on. It's pretty sore today and I think he'll struggle in practice."
Said McNabb: "It’s just Monday right now, but if Friday and Saturday come along and I’m feeling a lot better, you just never know.”
If McNabb were to attempt to play he would more than likely wear a flak jacket to protect his injury. If he can't go, Kevin Kolb will get his first career NFL start. Reid said that Kolb will be worked into taking repetitions with the starters once practice resumes on Wednesday. Normally, the backup doesn't take first-team reps during the week leading up to a game.
Pennsylvania Hospital's Dr. Art Bartolozzi, the former team physician for the Flyers and Eagles, said McNabb's prognosis for Sunday and beyond depends on which of the 12 ribs he fractured. Reid confrimed that McNabb's discomfort was in the lower back right portion of his body, which is where he was hit by Carolina defensive tackle Damione Lewis Sunday after scoring a third-quarter touchdown.
"It really depends on the location," Bartolozzi said. "If it's one of the bottom two, they are floating ribs and they don't connect to the front chest cage."
Reid said McNabb was not at risk of puncturing a lung right now, which is an indication it could be one of the lower ribs that is fractured. Bartolozzi said there is no risk of puncturing the lung if the quarterback has fractured one of the two lower ribs.
That doesn’t mean there is no risk involved in returning to the field.
“The lower ribs on the right-hand side are adjacent to the kidney and on the left-hand side they’re adjacent to the spleen,” Bartolozzi said. “If you get hit in just the right spot, it can cause damage."
Bartolozzi said the pain caused by a rib fracture takes between 10 days to four weeks to subside.
"I think if this is a significant rib fracture, then it’s unlikely he’ll be able to play (Sunday),” Bartolozzi said. “My guess is they’ll wait a week to 10 days to let it calm down and see how he feels.”
Bartolozzi noted that many athletes have played through the pain of rib injuries by padding the injured area and/or injecting the area with a numbing agent such as lidocaine.
It's reasonable to believe that at this early stage in the season the Eagles do not want to risk McNabb doing more significant damage to his fractured rib even though they are going against an explosive Saints offense Sunday.
“It’s a slow process of just meeting with our trainers, doing two-a-days with treatment, going through the process of just like I’m playing in the game, and seeing how I feel at the end [of the week]," McNabb said.
Kolb said he was going to prepare as if he was starting.
"It's not a switch you can flip on and off," he said. "That's what's hard about being a backup during a game. It's hard to flip that switch, so I want to make sure that I'm prepared mentally, emotionally and, obviously, physically."
Reid also said that he hasn't explored other options at quarterback. He did say that A.J. Feeley, who the Eagles cut last week, was still on their radar. The coach also said that Michael Vick, who is serving a two-game suspension to open the season, would remain on the exempt list for the time being.
McNabb fractured a rib in the third quarter of yesterday's 38-10 drubbing of Carolina when the 301-pound Damione Lewis pounced on the quarterback after he muscled his way for a 5-yard TD.
McNabb left the game and headed into the locker room to be examined. An x-ray revealed that he had broke one rib near his lower back. Reid said he hadn't spoken with McNabb, who was receiving treatment this morning at the team's practice facility. Kolb said he had met with his teammate.
"He's super sore," Kolb said. "He's sore. But ... he's a tough guy. He's played through a lot of things before."
If Kolb gets the nod, the third-year quarterback will get the opportunity to show that he was worth the second round draft pick the Eagles expended on him in 2007. Last season, Kolb started the second half of the Novemeber Baltimore game after McNabb had a brutal first half. Kolb, though, had a rough debut with the first team, throwing for two interceptions, one of which was returned 108 yards for a touchdown.
Yesterday he didn't fare much better in relief of McNabb, completing 7 of 11 passes for just 23 yards. Kolb was also sacked twice, fumbling once.
The 1-0 Eagles host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field.
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