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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ankle, leg injuries bring early end to Owens’ season

Terrell Owens, bottom, sprains his left ankle and suffers a broken leg as he's tackled by Dallas' Roy Williams in the third quarter Sunday. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Eagles star receiver Terrell Owens will miss the rest of the regular season and possibly the playoffs and Super Bowl because of a sprained right ankle, a devastating blow to the best team in the NFC.

Owens will have surgery Wednesday and stands only an outside shot at being able to play in the NFL’s championship game Feb. 6 – if Philadelphia makes it that far – head trainer Rick Burkholder said.

“I was looking forward to the playoffs, really trying to get this team to the Super Bowl,” Owens said in a conference call. “I think without me, still, they achieve that goal.”

Owens, whose touchdown celebrations and big plays made him an instant fan favorite, called some of his teammates with the news and told them he was sticking around for the playoff run.

“I’m behind them. I’m going to be their biggest cheerleader,” Owens said.

Owens, who has 77 catches for 1,120 yards and a team-record 14 touchdowns, also has a fracture a few inches below his knee. But Burkholder still didn’t rule out the chance Owens would be able to run in five weeks – the weekend of the NFC title game.

“There’s a lot of hurdles that have to be taken on before he can ever get to that point,” Burkholder said. “The scenario I painted is the best-case scenario, but it is realistic.”

Owens was hurt on the second play of the third quarter of Philadelphia’s win over Dallas on Sunday when he was dragged down from behind by Roy Williams on a 20-yard reception. Owens immediately grabbed the back of his leg, which was bent backward, but left the field on his own power.

The Eagles went on to win 12-7 and clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Tests revealed a high ankle sprain. A screw will be implanted to stabilize and strengthen the ankle joint.

Owens had an MRI in Philadelphia Monday morning, and complained of pain in his lower leg. He saw an ankle specialist in Baltimore.

“I went down there optimistic, hoping for the best, and I got the worst of news,” Owens said. “Things happen. You’ve just got to move on from it.”

Burkholder said the fracture is not as serious, and will be allowed to heal on its own.

“He’s a great player, but can the offense go on? Absolutely,” coach Andy Reid said Monday. “We have some pretty good players on this offensive unit, so it’ll still function and do very well this week.”

Owens has missed just seven games in his nine-year career. Acquired in an off-season trade, he has provided a spark to an offense that often stagnated late in the season – even though Philadelphia made the NFC championship game the last three years without him.