The Eagles have been in communication with the NFL league office after a third Tampa Bay Buccaneers player contracted MRSA, a drug-resistant staph infection. There is no change to the Eagles’ travel plans and they intend to play Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.
The Eagles have their own injuries to worry about, too. Quarterback Michael Vick was officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with a left hamstring injury, although a source close to the situation told The Inquirer that Vick is “doubtful” to play. Nick Foles would start if Vick doesn’t play.
Vick was a full participant in practice on Friday for the first time this week, but the Eagles’ Friday practices are usually light. All players fully participated on Friday, including tight end James Casey, who’s also listed as questionable with a groin injury.
The Eagles have seven players listed as probable. One of them is safety Patrick Chung, who missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. Chung had full practices all week.
Preparations were moving forward for the game, pending the outcome of an independent experts’ report on containment of the outbreak in Tampa Bay. ESPN reported that the NFL Players Association could advise the two teams not to play this weekend depending upon the report’s conclusions.
“We advised the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that an outside expert should be brought in to assess the situation and we are pleased with their decision to take that recommendation,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement. “We have also been in regular contact with the player representatives from Tampa Bay. We will reach out to the Philadelphia Eagles player representatives today and provide them with our best medical guidance and regular updates from the outside experts.”
The league is also looking into the issue.
“Our office, the NFLPA, and appropriate medical specialists are working with the Buccaneers’ medical staff to aggressively address the matter,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said in a statement.
The league was in contact with the Eagles, who kept track of the situation but had no plans to change their schedule. The Eagles will practice at the NovaCare Complex on Saturday before flying to Tampa in the afternoon.
The Buccaneers have been working with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network.
Bucs guard Carl Nicks and kicker Lawrence Tynes were found to have the MRSA infection in August. Nicks, who played the last two games, had a reoccurrence this week.
A third player who the Buccaneers would not identify also was infected. That player is Johnthan Banks, according to multiple reports. Banks was listed as questionable on the injury report Friday with an “illness,” and had not previously been on the report this week.
Both Nicks and Banks are starters for Tampa Bay.
“I don’t know what the final outcome is going to be on all the situations, so I’m not going to lock in anything in my mind right now other than have flexibility,” Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano said to Tampa-area reporters. “That’s why you train guys. We’ll go out and play Buc football, whether it’s the first-team guy, second-team guy, or some mix-and-match of both. That’s the plan.”
The big name on the Eagles’ injury report is Vick. Foles was also listed on the report as probable with a groin injury.
Chung’s return to the lineup has been anticipated all week. He is expected to reclaim his starting spot, and Earl Wolff will likely rotate in with Nate Allen as he did before Chung’s injury. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said earlier in the week the rotation depends on how Chung recovers.
Davis labeled Chung’s injury “unique.” Chung was initially expected to return during the first practice after sustaining the injury on Sept. 19, but the injury continued to linger.
“Just how the body is, man,” Chung said. “I can’t really answer those questions. You can think whatever you want to. You can think it’s a two-day injury, but it ends up being a couple of weeks.”
With Chung in the lineup, the only major lineup decision will be at quarterback. Kelly has said that he is willing to extend the decision until he must make one. The inactives must be declared at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The game begins at 1 p.m.