ARLINGTON, Texas - The replay was sickening, with Eagles middle linebacker Stewart Bradley falling and having his right arm bend in a way not contemplated by nature. The diagnosis was swift, a dislocated elbow.
But while Eagles coach Andy Reid is acknowledging that Bradley is likely done for the regular season, he is still hopeful about the postseason (if there is a postseason).
"If we're lucky enough to go on and play in the postseason, I think there's a pretty good chance he'll be back," Reid said, after the Eagles' 30-27 win over the Dallas Cowboys. "We'll have to see [today] with the MRI. Right now, I think the way it looked, [he is out] probably for the regular season."
It has been an up-and-down year for Bradley in his first season since having major knee surgery that cost him all of the 2009 season. Now he is facing this new injury burden. In his place last night, rookie Jamar Chaney filled in at middle linebacker. It was Reid's only real alternative, given that veteran backup Omar Gaither did not dress for this game.
As for the future, Reid said, "Omar will be somewhere in there but Chaney did a nice job. We'll have to evaluate him and see how he did, but I think he did a pretty good job in there. He's been playing well but we sure have a lot of trust in Omar, too."
The middle linebacker in the Eagles' defense has the added responsibility of calling the defensive signals. Chaney said he found that part of the job pretty comfortable thanks to extra meeting time spent with linebackers coach Bill Shuey. The meetings, often on game day, involve special one-on-one tutoring that specifically covers signal-calling.
Still, there had to be some nerves.
"At first, I didn't even know he was down," Chaney said. "I was running on for punt return because it was a third-down stop. Then I saw him down and said, 'Oh Lord, here we go. Let's go.' That's probably the first thing I said.
"But I was ready. I prepare every week like I'm going to play. That's the attitude you have to have. That's for all the backups on the team. When you get your shot . . . you have to make sure you go in there and do the job. If you don't do the job in the NFL, they're going to get somebody else in to do it."
Bradley wears one of the permitted radio helmets, which allows him to receive sideline messages from defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. Chaney said the Eagles have one made up for him, for just this eventuality, and that he switched to the radio helmet when he entered the game.