The Philadelphia Eagles will be without tight end Chad Lewis in the Super Bowl in 12 days because of a foot injury he suffered during Sunday's NFC title game. But they continue to hope they'll have back wide receiver Terrell Owens, who is scheduled to test his severely sprained ankle by running on it this week.
Lewis suffered a Lisfranc sprain -- an injury to the bones and ligaments that join the mid-foot and forefoot, named for the French doctor who first described it -- and is scheduled to undergo surgery tomorrow, Eagles Coach Andy Reid said. Lewis was hurt when he twisted his foot on the second of his two touchdown catches during the Eagles' 27-10 triumph over the Atlanta Falcons.
The Eagles were looking for a tight end to sign to go with L.J. Smith and Mike Bartrum. Lewis, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, shared playing time this season with Smith, a second-year pro, and had 29 catches for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns during the regular season. Lewis, a seven-year NFL veteran out of BYU, is eligible for unrestricted free agency in the spring.
Reid said during a news conference: "He was crushed. . . . You sure don't like to see that happen to a veteran player that's waited his whole career to get to this thing."
Reid said that Owens is "very confident" he'll be able to play against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
"He's going to continue his rehab," Reid said. "Sometime in the next few days here, he's going to try to run on that thing, jog on it, see what he can do. Then he'll progress from there. . . . He was going to play this [Atlanta] game, if he had his choice. . . . He's making great progress. He really is. He's champing at the bit to play."
Owens suffered a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula during a Dec.19 game against the Dallas Cowboys and underwent surgery on his ankle a few days later. His doctor and Eagles officials have said there would be a chance he could play in some capacity by Feb. 6, the date of the Super Bowl. They said the fibula would heal on its own before Owens's ankle healed.
While attending the 76ers' game yesterday, Owens said: "What a lot of people don't realize is that I've been doing a lot of rehab on my own, a lot of healing on my own, but spiritually God is healing me and I'm way ahead of where a lot of people expect me to be, even the doctor. He's even shocked at what he's seen. Spiritually I've been healed and I believe that I'll be out there on that field Sunday, regardless of what anyone says."
Packers Hire Bates
The Green Bay Packers named Jim Bates, the Miami Dolphins' interim coach for the final seven games of this season, their defensive coordinator, replacing Bob Slowik. Bates declined to return to the Dolphins as their defensive coordinator and interviewed for Cleveland's head coaching job. The move reinforces the notion that the Browns will hire Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel as their head coach following the Super Bowl. . . .
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Paul Hackett, who resigned under pressure as the New York Jets' offensive coordinator last week, as quarterbacks coach.
Surgery for Pennington
Jets quarterback Chad Pennington will undergo surgery in the coming weeks for the shoulder injury with which he played late in the season. Pennington reportedly could have a tear in his rotator cuff, although doctors won't know the extent of the damage until they operate. A tear could require as long as six months of rehabilitation following surgery, but the Jets are hopeful that Pennington will be ready for training camp. The Jets had described Pennington's injury as a strained rotator cuff.
TV Ratings on a High
The AFC and NFC championship game broadcasts had their highest combined overnight TV ratings in eight years. Fox's broadcast of Philadelphia's victory over Atlanta drew an overnight rating of 28.6 with a 48 share, a 14 percent jump from last year's NFC title game and the game's highest rating since 1997. New England's victory over Pittsburgh drew a 27.0 rating with a 38 share for CBS, up 2 percent from the AFC title game a year ago between the Patriots and Indianapolis and the highest for the game since 1999. The two broadcasts combined for a 55.6 rating, the highest overall draw since 1997 when Green Bay defeated Carolina and the Patriots beat Jacksonville.