Locker-room leader tears ACL in left knee

Updated: September 27, 2004, 4:19 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles fullback Jon Ritchie will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Sunday's 30-13 victory over the Detroit Lions.

"We'll miss Jon," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday. "He's a good football player, and he's great in the locker room. I encouraged him to stick around the team as much as he can because he's a positive influence."

Ritchie is the fourth significant player the Eagles have lost for the season, joining running back Correll Buckhalter (knee), right guard Shawn Andrews (leg) and defensive end N.D. Kalu (knee).

Right guard Jermane Mayberry tore a tendon in his biceps Sunday, but Reid is optimistic the former Pro Bowler won't miss much time. Mayberry could even return for this week's game against the Chicago Bears.

Tight end L.J. Smith hurt his shoulder against the Lions, but he also could return this week.

Ritchie had four receptions for 36 yards in his second season with the Eagles after five years with the Oakland Raiders. He was injured covering a punt in the second quarter.

"It was a freak thing," Reid said.

An excellent blocker, Ritchie helped pave the way for Eagles running backs to gain 1,718 yards on the ground last season.

Rookie Thomas Tapeh, who was on the inactive list the last two games, is the only other fullback who has been on Philadelphia's roster since the start of the season. The Eagles re-signed Josh Parry, who was cut from the practice squad last week, and placed Ritchie on injured reserve. Veteran Dorsey Levens also could play fullback in certain situations.

Parry spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad. He played linebacker the previous two training camps.

"I know he can play in this league and contribute," Reid said. "He's a smart kid, he's tough, he has good hands and he's a willing blocker."

Despite the injuries, the three-time NFC East champion Eagles are 3-0 for the first time since opening the 1993 season with four straight wins.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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