The news on Thursday that an MRI performed on tight end Cornelius Ingram revealed a "significant Baker's cyst in the back of his leg and calf" was indeed a setback for a young tight end trying to make the climb back from two lost years of knee injuries, and it helps answer a roster-battle question that fans have asked since the start of training camp: Who backs up starter Brent Celek at tight end?
Rookie Clay Harbor is that guy now, with Nate Lawrie looking to open some eyes with extended playing time in Kansas City and then in the preseason finale against the Jets.
A Baker's cyst, for those who don't know (raise you hand if you have ever heard of it) is, according toMayoClinic.com, the following:
"A Baker's cyst is a fluid-filled cyst that causes a bulge and a feeling of tightness behind your knee. The pain can get worse when you fully flex or extend your knee or when you're active. A Baker's cyst, also called a popliteal cyst, is usually the result of a problem with your knee joint, such as arthritis or a cartilage tear. Both conditions can cause your knee to produce too much fluid, which can lead to a Baker's cyst.
"Although a Baker's cyst may cause swelling and make you uncomfortable, treating the probable underlying problem usually provides relief."
There you go. I'm not a doctor. I don't pretend to know how this impacts Ingram's future here, but with cuts coming -- the 53-man roster must be in place on September 5 -- there aren't a whole lot of options.
Andy Reid could keep three tights on the roster, but the only time he has done that was when Mike Bartrum was here (2000-2006). Bartrum was the third tight end and the standout long snapper. Jon Dorenbos handles that role now, and while he was a superstar in high school and a fine tight end in college, he doesn't play the position in the NFL. So if Reid follows history and goes with two, he goes with Celek and a backup. Clearly, Harbor is the guy now, and it is likely the Eagles want to see him get involved in the offense on Friday night.
Ingram could land on Injured Reserve, shelving him for the entire season. I don't know the process for "treating" the Baker's cyst, and if surgery is involved, a season on IR is a very possible move.
The shame of it is that Ingram is such a great, great kid, and that he has worked so very, very hard to get back from last summer's knee injury and the surgery that followed. Ingram was in the NovaCare Complex every day. He was so thrilled to be back on the field after missing his final season at Florida and his first NFL season because of back-to-back knee injuries. No doubt, Ingram was in pain throughout the training camp and preseason periods, but he never let on. He always smiled. He was always cordial.
When he was on the field, though, Ingram just couldn't get loose. He didn't look lilke the fluid, explosive tight end of a year ago. There were times when Ingram perked up and the knee didn't quite bother him as much, but for the most part the injury -- the recovery from two surgeries on the same knee, some swelling and the Baker's cyst -- took away that extra edge that made Ingram so promising to watch last summer.
The Eagles used a fifth-round draft pick on Harbor in April and, honestly, at the time there were questions. Why take another young tight end? Didn't the Eagles already have one in Ingram, who was so impressive before his ACL blew out again early in training camp?
Well, the Eagles knew not to trust an immediate recovery, not after two reconstructive surgeries on the same knee. So they selected Harbor, who has been a really good-looking prospect from Day 1. And right now, it is Harbor's job behind Celek, with some excellent tests coming.
For Ingram, the recovery continues. Nobody is giving up on the young man. He wants to succeed here and overcome the odds and realize a dream. This is a setback, and Ingram knows all about setbacks. His road to recovery continues.
And for those watching the 53-man roster, Harbor is in the right place. He was there, anyway, but the expectation was that both Harbor and Ingram would get some time and battle it out and see who was standing when the roster was trimmed twice in the coming two weeks.
Maybe Ingram gets back on the field quickly. I don't know. Right now, it is a tale of two tight ends, one (Harbor) playing his way to a roster spot and another (Ingram) dealing with another hurdle in the path of his NFL career.