Lewis suffers foot injury in NFC Championship
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles' thin receiving corps has lost another key member, and whether its star makes it back for the Super Bowl is still uncertain.
Tight end Chad Lewis, who caught two touchdown passes in Philadelphia's 27-10 victory over Atlanta in the NFC championship game Sunday, will miss the Super Bowl with a foot injury.
Meanwhile, All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens' status is uncertain. Owens has been sidelined with an ankle injury since Dec. 19. Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday that Owens has made "great progress," and will try to run on the ankle this week.
Lewis, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, will have surgery on Wednesday. He was hurt on his second TD grab, a 2-yard catch that sealed the win.
"He was crushed," Reid said. "You sure don't like to see that happen to a veteran player that waited his whole career to get to this thing. He'll survive through it. He'll be down there supporting us, doing everything he can from the sideline."
Lewis spent half the 1999 season with St. Louis, before getting cut and signing with Philadelphia. The Rams won the Super Bowl that season.
Lewis' injury, called a Lis Franc sprain, is more common in automobile accidents and equestrian sports.
Eagles All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins missed nine games last season with a similar injury that wasn't as severe and didn't require surgery. In 2000, Eagles running back Duce Staley had surgery and missed the final 13 games, including playoffs, with an injury to the same joint.
Second-year pro L.J. Smith will take Lewis' spot in the starting lineup against New England in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. Mike Bartrum, also the long snapper, is the only other tight end on the roster. Reid said the team will try to add another tight end this week. Lewis backed up Bartrum as the long snapper.
Lewis, an unrestricted free agent after the season, had 29 catches for 267 yards and three TDs this year. His role had been reduced with the emergence of Smith, a second-round draft pick from Rutgers in 2003.
Lewis originally signed as a rookie free agent with the Eagles in 1997. He was cut two games into the 1998 season and signed with the Rams, only to return to Philadelphia 1½ years later.
Lewis emerged as quarterback Donovan McNabb's favorite target in 2000, catching 69 passes for 735 yards and three TDs to earn the first of his three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.
Over the next three seasons, Lewis caught 41, 42 and 23 passes.
"It's unfortunate that it happened," McNabb said. "We're going to go out and try to win it for Chad."
A return by Owens would easily offset the injury to Lewis. Owens caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 TDs in his first year with the Eagles.
Owens' spectacular season came to a halt when he tore two ankle ligaments and broke his right leg in a game against Dallas on Dec. 19. A surgeon inserted two screws in Owens' ankle and a plate on the outside of the ankle three days later.
Owens was told after surgery that he had only an outside chance of returning for the Super Bowl, but has rehabbed vigorously and has told teammates he's going to play.
McNabb downplayed the notion that Owens might come back only to be used as a decoy against the Patriots.
"For him, that's disrespectful to say you're going to be used to run dummy routes," McNabb said. "We brought T.O. here for a reason. If T.O. is out there, he's going to catch some balls."
Owens was back on the sideline leading cheers against the Falcons. But making cuts and taking hits won't be as easy as waving a towel and flapping his arms.
"Somewhere in the next few days here, he's going to try and run on that thing, jog on it, see what he can do and progress from there," Reid said. "He's coming in every day for treatment. He's been working in the pool, running in the pool, but it's a matter of him getting out and trying it on land here without the water."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press