Fractured scapula halts bad season

Updated: October 7, 2003, 3:09 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Already suffering through what looks to be the worst season of his celebrated career, the plight of Arizona Cardinals tailback Emmitt Smith grew even more dire Monday, when an examination revealed that he fractured his left shoulder blade in Sunday's loss at Dallas.

 Emmitt Smith
Smith

The injury, which occurred in the second quarter, will sideline the 14th-year veteran for several weeks but not the entire season, Cardinals officials said Monday.

Coach Dave McGinnis said X-rays taken Monday revealed the injury was more serious than originally thought. After the game, the Cardinals said Smith had only a sprained shoulder.

"If it was just a bruised shoulder, believe me, Emmitt Smith would have come back out of that locker room," McGinnis said.

Beyond rest, and the typical healing process, there really aren't any treatment options for such injuries.

McGinnis acknowledged Smith would be out for at least a few weeks, but doubted his season was over.

"I'm not going to put a time frame on it because I've not been given a time frame on it," McGinnis said.

Third-year veteran Marcel Shipp, the Cardinals' leading rusher in 2002 when he ran for 834 yards in 15 appearances and six starts, will move into the lineup.

Shipp's backups are Damien Anderson and special teams star Josh Scobey, who had a 100-yard kickoff return against St. Louis on Sept. 28 and a 63-yard kickoff return Sunday.

"Hopefully our running game will work -- we can make it work -- enough so that I have to run all three of them," McGinnis said. "But so far, we've had trouble getting enough carries to one guy."

Even before the injury, the 2003 season had gotten off to a rough start for Smith, who signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract with the Cardinals after the Cowboys released him in the spring. Counting his brief appearance in Sunday's game, Smith has rushed for just 192 yards and one touchdown on 65 carries. Smith carried six times for minus-one yard Sunday, the worst performance of his career.

Smith, 34, had indicated previously that he planned to play the full two seasons of his contract with the Cardinals, and his goal was to help move the franchise toward some much needed respectability. The injury, and the fact the Cardinals may still be years away from playoff contention, could force the 14th-year veteran to rethink his stance.

The future Hall of Fame member has a league-record 17,354 yards and 154 touchdowns on the ground in 4,117 carries.

Smith has missed just four games because of an injury in his career.

Only twice previously in his career, as a rookie 1990 and last season, has Smith failed to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark. It is a milestone he almost certainly will not achieve now in 2003.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.