Thomas could miss playoffs with dislocated elbow

Updated: December 14, 2004, 7:35 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia defensive tackle Hollis Thomas could miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, this time with a dislocated elbow.

 Hollis Thomas

Thomas, the Eagles' best run stopper, was injured in Sunday's 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins. He had an MRI on Monday, and will miss three to six weeks.

The NFC East champion Eagles (12-1) already secured a first-round bye in the playoffs. Their first playoff game will be either Jan. 15 or 16.

Thomas' injury further depletes a defensive line that is missing starting end Derrick Burgess (chest) and lost tackle Corey Simon to a back injury in the first half against Washington. Burgess won't play against Dallas on Sunday, while Simon could return.

A nine-year veteran, Thomas has been plagued by injuries the last three years. He's watched the Eagles lose three consecutive NFC championship games from the sidelines.

Thomas went down in the 14th game of the 2001 season with a foot injury. He missed all of the next season after needing another operation on the same right foot. Thomas started strong last year, but tore his left biceps in the seventh game.

Thomas was having one of his best seasons this year, recording 21 tackles,10 hurries and one fumble recovery. He and Sam Rayburn went from backups to challenging Simon and Darwin Walker for playing time.

Paul Grasmanis, who played against the Redskins for the first time since he tore his Achilles tendon in Week 2 of the 2003 season, replaces Thomas in the defensive line rotation. Grasmanis is in his fifth season with the Eagles after playing three seasons with Chicago and one in Denver.

Without Thomas, the Eagles' already-suspect run defense could falter. Philadelphia is 13th against the run, allowing 112.8 yards per game on the ground.

Only two running backs have rushed for more than 100 yards against the Eagles this season: the Giants' Tiki Barber, who did it twice, and Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis. However, the Eagles have won nine of their games by double-digit margins, so teams have been forced to abandon the run and turn to the pass.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press