The Eagles announced on Wednesday that Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews had back surgery to correct a herniated disc and that he'll be out between six weeks and three months.
The Eagles chose not to place Andrews on injured reserve, however, leaving out hope that he may be healthy enough to return sometime this season.
In the meantime, the starting right guard job now belongs to Max Jean-Gilles for the foreseeable future.
"Max has done a very good job," head coach Andy Reid said. "The thing Max has done and I think it's important, is improved every week. The guys around him have a lot of trust in him. He's playing good football right now.
"Max has the type of personality where it's important that he continues to do that. That he continues to work hard at this game and get better every week like he's been."
Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder was on hand at Reid's press conference to explain the medical nuances of Andrews' procedure. According to Burkholder, Andrews was diagnosed with a herniated disc in high school before attending the University of Arkansas and he re-aggravated the injury on an extra point attempt against Dallas earlier this season. Andy Reid PC: October 22
"It did not look new," Burkholder said. "It looked like the same disc that we knew about coming in. However, he had symptoms now."
After an MRI revealed the herniated disc, Burkholder said Andrews had two injections in his back in October to help alleviate some pain but that they only marginally helped the big offensive lineman.
On Oct. 13th, Andrews flew to Los Angeles to consult with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins Sr., who thought with his past history, that surgery was the best option. Yesterday, Watkins performed a microdiscectomy on Andrews' L4-L5 disc.
"They're numbered by how they sit between the vertebrae, so its lumbar 4-5," Burkholder said. "He had good success with the surgery, took the fragments out and Shawn is in Marina Del Rey Hospital recovering now."
Burkholder added that Watkins told the Eagles that it's a six-week to three-month recovery period and that it all depends on Andrews' rehab as to whether or not he will make it back in time to play this season.
"Guys have come back at five weeks, guys have taken three months," Burkholder said. "It depends on when he gets his strength back and the symptoms go away. We're just going to play it week-by-week with him right now."
Burkholder said that Andrews will begin rehabbing Wednesday and that will mostly concentrate on flexibility and strengthening his core. He also said that Andrews' injury is similar to the one tackle Tra Thomas had in 2005.
"Not identical, but similar," Burkholder said. "It's a comparison because they both play (offensive line). They had somewhat of the same symptoms. They had the same surgeon. Like I said, everybody's different. Everyone's center of gravity is different. Everybody's core is different. Everybody's flexibility's different. It's really, really hard to compare Shawn to anybody else."
So, the Eagles will wait and see how Andrews progresses before deciding to make any changes to the 53-man roster.
"We'll see," Reid said. "We're not going to do anything right now. We'll just see how it plays out here and how he's feeling. Right now, it's tough to tell just because it's so new. We'll see what the next few days, week or two, whatever it takes, to see how he's feeling."