Len Pasquarelli

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Sunday, August 17
Updated: August 19, 11:18 AM ET
 
Extent of Vick's injury carries a wait-and-see approach

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

ATLANTA - On a day when the Atlanta Falcons received what could only be termed relatively good news regarding the fractured right fibula suffered by Michael Vick early in Saturday's preseason contest, there remained on Sunday one ominous possibility, since doctors remain uncertain as to whether the quarterback sustained ligament damage.

If there is ligament damage, and doctors likely won't know that for another week to 10 days, Vick might require surgery. And depending on the nature of the surgery, he could be sidelined for the regular season. For now, however, surgery is not indicated, the team's doctor says.

Orthopedic specialist Andy Bishop said Sunday in a statement released by the team that he believes any ligament damage to the ankle is minimal.

"(But) we don't know for certain," Bishop said. "No MRI or test will tell you how much damage there is (to the ligaments). "If there is significant damage, then we would expect the (talus and tibia) bones in the next two weeks to migrate laterally. ... and that would change our treatment plan. It would require surgery."

The positive news is that the break to the fibula, the non-weight bearing bone in the leg, was a clean fracture. In fact, the bone was not even displaced, which should enhance the healing process.

Bishop said the leg will be casted, and doctors will X-ray it regularly, in part to monitor the talus and tibia. If those bones don't move, Bishop said, it is a strong indication that the ligaments are holding everything in place.

At some point in his recovery, Vick will be fitted with a soft cast and then will begin the principal rehabilitation.

Bishop declined to speculate as to when Vick might return to the field. He allowed that an uncomplicated bone typically heals in about six weeks.

"That just means the bone is healed, it does not necessarily mean that everything else is like it should be," Bishop said. "We don't know. It maybe as little as six weeks that he will be back playing football full speed, but we don't know. We'll have to wait and see."

The longtime team orthopedic surgeon said that, after his rehabilitation, Vick should have no residual problems and that the recovery should be 100 percent.

The club has yet to decide if they will attempt to add another experienced quarterback. Fourth-year veteran Doug Johnson, who will assume the No. 1 job, has started just three times in his NFL career. Second-year veteran Kurt Kittner did not appear in a game at all in his 2002 rookie campaign. Rookie David Rivers is an undrafted free agent.

Leaguewide there is a paucity of unemployed veteran quarterbacks, with Kent Graham, Jeff George and Jamie Martin likely topping the list. Graham did play under Dan Reeves for two seasons, 1993-94, when the Falcons coach was with the New York Giants.





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