Donovan McNabb's prognosis for Sunday and beyond depends upon which of his 12 ribs he fractured during the Eagles' season-opening win over the Carolina Panthers.
"It really depends on the location," said Art Bartolozzi, an orthopedic surgeon from Pennsylvania Hospital and the former team physician for the Eagles and Flyers. "If it's one of the bottom two, they are floating ribs, and they don't connect to the front chest cage."
Coach Andy Reid said at his news conference yesterday that McNabb was not at risk of puncturing a lung, which is an indication that it could be one of the lower ribs that is fractured. Bartolozzi said there was no risk of puncturing the lung if the quarterback fractured one of the two lower ribs.
Bartolozzi said the pain caused by a rib fracture takes from 10 days to four weeks to subside. "If this is a significant rib fracture, then it's unlikely he'll be able to play Sunday," he said. "My guess is they'll wait a week to 10 days to let it calm down and see how he feels."
Bartolozzi said many athletes, particularly at the college and pro levels, have played with fractured ribs by padding the injured area and/or injecting the area with a numbing agent such as lidocaine.
Reid said the amount of pain McNabb is experiencing probably will determine when he returns.
"You don't want to make it worse," Reid said. "I'm not sure it's the type of situation where you can do that. . . . We've just got to see how he can function. I'm not going to put him out there if he can't function."
Winston Justice might make his a second straight start at tackle Sunday when the Eagles play the New Orleans Saints.
"Shawn Andrews still has a sore back," Reid said.
The coach said after watching Justice on tape, he was impressed by the tackle's second career start.
"I thought he played very physical," Reid said. "I saw physical in both the pass game and the run game."
Reid was asked if he thought Justice played well enough to compete for the job as the starting right tackle, an interesting question considering a week ago there was a campaign for the team to re-sign Jon Runyan.
"Shawn is struggling to make it out to practice, and he can't make it through practice," Reid said.
The Eagles will have to make a roster move today to make room for quarterback Jeff Garcia. Rumors circulated last night that the Eagles were going to trade Hank Baskett, but that did not happen. The team could release receiver Reggie Brown, who did not dress for Sunday's game.
Reid said safety Quintin Demps was likely to miss Sunday's game after suffering a strained hamstring in the opener. That will likely open a spot for veteran Sean Jones, who did not dress against the Panthers. . . . Second-year linebacker Joe Mays could be back against the Saints after sitting out the opener with a sprained shoulder.