PHILADELPHIA — An MRI exam revealed Monday that Michael Vick injured the cartilage that connects his second and third ribs to his sternum in the Eagles’ 17-12 loss to Washington on Sunday.
Coach Andy Reid would not speculate how much time Vick could miss, but two local sports-medicine doctors said injuries of this type could shelve a professional football player for two to four weeks, maybe longer.
Reid said that Vick, who was at the NovaCare Complex on Monday, was sore but did not break any ribs after sustaining a high-impact hit from two Redskins. He did fracture the cartilage.
On Monday night, Vick told WXTG-FM in Virginia Beach, Va., that he expected to be out no longer than two weeks.
“There is some cartilage damage up in there and a small fracture up in there, so maybe a week, maybe two weeks,” Vick said. “We’ll have to see. . . . I just have to work through it. I’ve always been a quick healer. It won’t be no more than one, two weeks hopefully. Hopefully.
“I’m feeling good, despite the rib injury. I’m fighting through it. Overall, I’m feeling well.”
Reid was non-committal when asked whether Vick could be ready by Sunday when the Eagles visit the 0-4 San Francisco 49ers.
“Well, we’ll just see how it feels,” Reid said. “This is going to be one of those day-to-day, week-to-week (injuries). We’ll just see how it goes, and how he feels along the way.”
A team spokesman said Vick was not available for comment. He also didn’t speak to reporters after the game.
The Eagles did not specify which side of Vick’s rib cage was injured, but the quarterback clutched his right side as he left the field and had trouble raising his right arm in the locker room after the game.
In other significant injury news, running back LeSean McCoy has one cracked rib. He suffered the injury in the second quarter against the Redskins but finished the game as the Eagles’ leading rusher and receiver, gaining 64 yards on 16 carries and catching 12 passes for 110 yards.
Reid said McCoy could play Sunday with protective padding on his midsection, but he said McCoy was undergoing further tests and wouldn’t speculate on his availability.
“It’s really a comfort thing,” said Reid, who called McCoy a “pretty tough kid.”
The only positive injury news was that cornerback Asante Samuel and wide receiver Riley Cooper suffered mild concussions, and both were feeling better on Monday.
Vick was hurt on the second-to-last play of the first quarter, when he tried to dive into the end zone after scrambling from the Redskins’ 24-yard line. He eluded no fewer than six Washington defenders on the run. But as he approached the goal line, he was crushed by safety Kareem Moore on the left and cornerback DeAngelo Hall on the right. His effort was negated by a Max Jean-Gilles holding penalty.
Robert Frederick, a sports-medicine physician at the Rothman Institute and an assistant physician with the Phillies, said that with a cartilage tear such as Vick’s, normal functions such as breathing, coughing, sneezing and sleeping are painful. The intense pain usually subsides within a week, Frederick said.
“I doubt you’d see him back in a week,” Frederick said. “I’m not sure if he’d even be back doing any throwing. The first week is healing, then progressing him up from there. Most people would say two to five weeks, perhaps as long as six, depending on the severity.”
Frederick, who has not examined Vick, said that given the injury, Vick likely has bruising around the cartilage tear. He said the typical progression for an athlete with this injury is being able to do normal activities, like putting on a shirt, then doing things, like riding an exercise bike, to keep his fitness level up. After the soreness eases, he can begin throwing, then eventually rejoin practice.
“A younger guy will heal quicker,” Frederick said. “With a quarterback with the range of motion to throw the ball and the speed he may have to throw it, that (injury) is going to affect how he can perform in his job as a quarterback. It’s like Mother Nature. It takes a certain amount of time.”
Brian Sennett, chief of sports medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said Vick’s injury is similar to the one Donovan McNabb suffered last season, when he broke two ribs in the season opener and missed two games. McNabb got the benefit of the bye week and returned against Tampa Bay in Week 5.
“He came back in essentially four weeks,” Sennett said. “That’s the best comparison. This would be managed very similar to Donovan McNabb’s injury last year. The pain has to decrease, and during that period of time, you have to keep an athlete’s cardio condition up. Then, when he can handle it, start to work on motion, reestablish full motion of shoulders, add strength, then start throwing.”
Sennett said the Eagles’ bye on Oct. 31 comes at “an interesting spot” with regard to Vick’s injury. Sennett said Vick could be ready to face Tennessee in three weeks, but “in five full weeks, he’ll feel great,” Sennett said.
“If I was leaning towards the thought, I would say he’d have to be pain free coming into that third week, or he probably wouldn’t return until after the bye,” Sennett said.
Frederick and Sennett agreed that once healed, Vick should have no lingering effects from the injury.
So, the Eagles likely will have to turn to Kevin Kolb, their starter heading into the season before Reid benched him. Although Reid would not say for sure, it seems likely that Kolb will take the majority, if not all, of the snaps with the first-team offense when the squad reconvenes for practice Wednesday. Kolb was 22 of 35 for 201 passing yards, with one touchdown and the one interception that ended the game.
Reid said he is not concerned about Kolb’s overall psyche after Reid benched him for Vick following Vick’s performance as the starter in Week 2, when Kolb was sidelined with a concussion. While Vick has played extremely well, completing 61.5 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions (plus one rushing TD), Kolb has been shaky at best.
Against the Redskins, he repeatedly checked down and routinely failed to see his receivers on deeper routes. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin combined for just four receptions for 34 yards, and Kolb’s longest pass was 18 yards.
In four games, Vick has 12 throws of 20 or more yards.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Reid said of Kolb. “I think everybody has confidence in him to go out and play well.”
Kolb was not available to reporters on Monday, but after the game on Sunday, he said: “I’m a competitor, and I want to play. I want to win.”
With the injuries to Vick, McCoy and Cooper, the Eagles could make a couple of roster moves in the coming days. If Vick is sidelined indefinitely, the Eagles would have only Kolb and rookie Mike Kafka as their quarterbacks. They already are missing fullback Leonard Weaver, out for the season with a knee injury, and running back Mike Bell has been underwhelming.
After cutting Hank Baskett following Week 2, the Eagles are down to just four receivers: Jackson, Maclin, Jason Avant and Cooper, who is a rookie.
The Associated Press