December 29, 2019
Even if the Eagles beat the Giants to clinch the NFC East title, they'll likely have to enter the postseason without star tight end Zach Ertz, who has already been ruled out of Sunday's game with a broken rib and a back injury suffered in last week's win over the Cowboys.
Earlier on Sunday morning, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Ertz had not yet been ruled out for next week's potential playoff game (should the Eagles advance), but added an additional injury for the tight end — a lacerated kidney.
The #Eagles won’t have TE Zach Ertz today, but he has not been ruled out for next week if Philly advances. Ertz is not only dealing with a cracked rib, but sources say he suffered a lacerated kidney that had him in the hospital after the game. That explains the caution this week.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 29, 2019
And that newest development could be the thing that keeps Ertz, who leads the team in receptions (88), receiving yards (916) and touchdown catches (6), from rejoining his team this season, despite Rapoport's assertion that a return next week is still possible.
According to Dr. David Chao, who spent nearly two decades as team doctor in the NFL and now writes about sports injuries for the San Diego Tribune, Ertz' season is likely over, no matter how far the Birds advance. As Chao writes, the rib injury alone would not have been enough to keep Ertz playing, and the late addition of a back injury to Thursday's report could've been the reason they decided so quickly to rule him out, but now knowing the extent of the internal injuries, it makes much more sense that Ertz would be sidelined for such a big game.
Of course, there's always a chance the back injury was just a code name for lacerated kidney — or maybe the pain first presented itself as back pain and it was only after further examination that they revealed the kidney injury.
There's also some concern that the Eagles should've caught this injury during last week's game and never allowed Ertz to return to the game.
On Ertz and the kidney — I’ve had two medical sources tell me yeah, the Eagles should have suspected this and kept Ertz out of the game. It’s something you look for on that type of hit— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) December 29, 2019
Here's more on the injury from Chao, who offers up a reason as to why Ertz may have been allowed to go back in:
Ertz is as tough as they come. He returned to last week’s game after heading to the locker room for what was presumably X-rays, exam and a rib block injection.
It is routine to check for associated internal organ damage before return. Sometimes the kidney damage can be detected immediately. Other times it is a delayed presentation. There is no way kidney injury was known or Ertz would not have been allowed to return. That would be malpractice.
Ertz will recover completely. There is likely no surgery needed. He will preserve function of both kidneys and return to football, but not any time soon. [sandiegotribune.com]
When Chao says "not any time soon," he isn't exaggerating, adding that the typical recovery time for such an injury is four weeks. And while that would allow Ertz to return if the Birds were to make a run to the Super Bowl — a run that just got that much harder without a healthy Ertz — he sees that as unlikely.
That's not great news for an Eagles team that has already seen it's receiving corps decimated by injuries. In a year full of untimely and costly injuries for the Birds, this one might be the toughest to get over.
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