September 21, 2007

L.J. Smith Out Sunday

L.J. Smith underwent surgery Friday to clean out some scar tissue surrounding his injured groin. The tight end has been ruled out for Sunday's game, and his recovery and rehab is said to be week-to-week.

Smith, who had offseason sports hernia surgery, strained his groin in training camp and has been fighting the injury since. This week, however, it reached a point where Smith was unable to participate in practice.

"He seemed like he was getting a little bit worse, so we referred him to Dr. (William) Meyers, who did the sports hernia surgery on him and Dr. Meyers suggested last night that he have a procedure this morning to free up some of the space there in his groin," explained Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder.

"It was a 20-minute procedure in which he opened up the sheath around the muscle, which gives him a little bit more room. It allowed fluid to drain out of the muscle that was injured back in training camp. It had a collection of fluid in there. And he also cleaned out a bunch of scar tissue which was around the muscle and also around the nerve, which was probably what was causing him pain."

The injury has certainly limited his productivity as evidenced by his numbers through two games -- 26 yards on four receptions.

Burkholder would not put a timetable on Smith's return, but did point out the positives about the situation.

"The one good thing about this surgery is they didn't have to fix anything," Burkholder said. "You don't have to wait for anything to really heal. You just have to wait for all that swelling and everything to go down and let him get back to function where he can play football at a normal level.

"We're going to take it week-to-week. We'll see how he does next week."

Veteran Matt Schobel and rookie Brent Celek will play in place of Smith against the Lions.

On defense, free safety Brian Dawkins did not practice Friday due to neck spasms, while Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard did some conditioning work.

Dawkins' status will likely be determined at game time, while Sheppard's return was termed a "longshot" by head coach Andy Reid.

On offense, running back Brian Westbrook practiced fully Friday and is expected to start

Quarterback Donovan McNabb practiced without a brace on his surgically-repaired right knee. He wore a sleeve over the knee, but no brace. It's uncertain what protection he will wear on Sunday.


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