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Does Jeff Garcia Signing Mean Donovan McNabb's Injury Is Serious?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer ISeptember 16, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 13:  Quarterback Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles walks off the field after injuring his knee in the second half of their NFL season opener against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 13, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. McNabb did not return to the game.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Preface: Feel free to tell me after you read this article if I'm reading too much into what's going on with the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles.

This summer, the Philadelphia Eagles made a number of strong statements. One was allowing defensive captain Brian Dawkins to leave as a free agent for Denver. The other was taking a big chance by signing Michael Vick.

Vick was brought into Philadelphia to not only rehabilitate his image, but to add some versatility to the Eagles offense. The addition raised a number of eyebrows because the assumption in Philadelphia was that the Eagles were, at least in some fashion, committed to Kevin Kolb as the backup to Donovan McNabb.

In the first preseason game Vick played in, there was obvious friction between McNabb and the coaching staff over the use of Vick. The Wildcat apparently needed to be caged (bad pun? too soon?).

Vick is not eligible to play in a regular season game for the Eagles until the third week of the regular season because of his suspension, so the Eagles were comfortable letting a healthy McNabb and Kolb begin the season as the two quarterbacks on the active roster.

Then came Sunday.

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McNabb, after scrambling for a touchdown in a game that, at that point, was well in hand, was rolled over by a couple defensive players and fractured one of his ribs.

Kolb entered the game and was underwhelming.

After the game, and in the following 48 hours, the Eagles let it be known that McNabb's injury wasn't serious and that they, along with McNabb, were hoping he could play against the high-powered Saints this coming weekend.

Then came the announcements on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, that the Eagles had signed free agent (and former Eagles) Jeff Garcia and activated Vick.

By my math, that means the Eagles have four quarterbacks theoretically eligible to play in Week Three. And you can only dress three.

This is where I might be reading too far into the signing of Garcia: does adding a solid veteran quarterback indicate that McNabb's ribs might be worse than the Eagles are letting on?

Garcia must have had options to play with other teams. And he would have had he stayed on the free agent market. Within hours of his signing with Philadelphia, the Carolina Panthers signed former Eagles quarterback AJ Feeley. Looking strictly at the resume of each, one would have to think Garcia would generate more demand.

Garcia was cut by the Raiders because, in part, he wanted to see playing time for an organization that had a chance to win (i.e. not the Raiders).

That, and he has historically been a winner, which is something Al Davis hasn't kept around that franchise in recent years.

So, and I'll again admit to reading between the lines. If Garcia believes he can still play and wants to be on the field, then what gives with the roster in Philly?

There are three options that I can see being the cause/effect of this addition.

1) The Eagles experiment of grooming Kolb to be their "quarterback of the future" is officially over. In adding Garcia, the Eagles will allow Kolb to hit waivers with the hopes of bringing him back on the practice squad.

2) The Eagles move Michael Vick to a wide receiver. By rule in the NFL, if the quarterback listed third on the depth chart enters the game, the first two quarterbacks are no longer eligible. If Vick is going to contribute, and Garcia thinks he's going to play, and McNabb comes back in a week or two, then someone can't play quarterback. Logically, it would be Vick that moves.

3) McNabb's ribs are more seriously hurt than the Eagles are letting on, and they need a starting quarterback to keep them competitive in the NFC East. They're probably not comfortable with Vick's abilities to lead a playoff team after two years in jail, and Sunday would lead any observer to believe that Kolb can't do that for them either. If McNabb is going to miss significant time (more than four weeks), they need a legit NFL quarterback—like Garcia.

Again, I'm basing my thoughts here on everything that's been said publicly by the Eagles, their players, and the players' representatives.

They brought in Vick to get him on the field, they already had Kolb and McNabb is their starter. By most standards, that's a crowded depth chart.

Adding Garcia makes it an intriguing puzzle.

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