<
>

McNabb hopes to play through pain

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb tossed touchdown passes on a
broken ankle and played an NFC title game with an agonizing rib
injury.

Now McNabb is taking his biggest health risk yet: playing with a
severe abdominal strain that likely will need surgery and
definitely will leave the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback in
discomfort and pain all season.

"Fortunately for me, I haven't got to the point where you just
can't go," the Eagles' star said. "Once that happens, then I
think the best way of handling this is not being out there. But I
don't think that would ever happen."

Trainer Rick Burkholder said rest will not fix the problem and
McNabb can play if he can handle the pain. McNabb, who practiced
Wednesday, does not have to be sidelined now for the sports hernia.

"We're hoping it's something we'll be able to manage,"
Burkholder said. "The plan with Donovan is to allow him to
participate, continue to rehabilitate him and we're going to take
it on a day-by-day, game-by-game situation."

McNabb is expected to start Sunday against Kansas City and is
willing to play through his various injuries. McNabb also is
playing with soreness in his chest and a shin contusion.

"I'm ready to go," McNabb said Wednesday. "I don't have any
concerns right now. ... It's just something you have to deal with
and realize some days you'll feel great and some days you won't."

McNabb was tested last week for the sports hernia, but coach
Andy Reid called the injury an abdominal strain after the Eagles'
win over Oakland. McNabb went to Boston on Tuesday for another
opinion and it was confirmed he has a sports hernia.

"His pain may get worse, it may get better, the condition
won't," Burkholder said. "It's not like he's going to do a
career-ending problem to his abdomen or his groin."

McNabb hoped to delay surgery. Burkholder said it usually takes
eight to 12 weeks to recover from that type of surgery.

"If I can avoid it, I definitely will avoid it," McNabb said.
"If that's the case that I have to have it, then it will happen."

McNabb didn't know when he first hurt the area. He came into
training camp with soreness in his abdomen. He seemed to be fine
until the second game against San Francisco, when the injury was
aggravated.

The injury hasn't affected McNabb's performance too much.
Against the 49ers, he matched his career best with five TD passes
and threw for 342 yards while playing three quarters.

Against the Raiders, McNabb rebounded from a slow first half and
finished with 365 yards passing and two touchdowns while throwing a
career-high 52 passes.

"If it ends up where he can't function, then we'll shut him
down," Reid said.

While Reid said he would be smart with how he handles McNabb, he
wouldn't rule out another 50-attempt game if that's needed to win.

"If it means throwing 50 times, then you throw 50 times," Reid
said.

McNabb has played through pain in the past. He broke his ankle
in the first quarter against Arizona in 2002, stayed in and threw
four touchdowns.

He had trouble playing with an injured thumb in 2003, but didn't
miss any time. In the same year, he suffered a serious rib injury
against Carolina in the NFC championship game.

"It's good that I've been in the situation before where I've
dealt with pain, I've dealt with soreness, dealt with injuries,"
McNabb said.

Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown played with the same injury two
years ago and didn't miss any games, though he would miss the
occasional series in practice.

"It's like someone's sticking you," he said. "I played with
it for a while and actually made it through the season, so it's not
that bad."

Also, Reid said kicker David Akers will miss the game against
the Chiefs because of a torn hamstring.

Akers originally strained his hamstring during two weeks ago
against San Francisco and went down again after redoing the opening
kickoff against the Raiders. He returned to make two extra points
and kicked the winning field goal in the final seconds.