Rookie defensive end Jamaal Green, the Philadelphia Eagles' fourth-round draft choice and a player expected to contribute to the team's line rotation during the second half of the season, will miss the entire 2003 season after undergoing Saturday surgery to repair a fractured right fibula sustained in a Friday night preseason game.
The former University of Miami star, scheduled to back up starter N.D. Kalu at right end, was injured in the third quarter, while trying to stop Patriots tailback Antowain Smith on an eight-yard run. Green's right leg buckled under him as he went down in a pile.
Surgery was performed at Hahnemann University Hospital by Dr. Peter DeLuca and Dr. Susan Harding. The rehabilitation period will be an extended one and the club determined that Green would not be able to make it back on the field this year.
He will be placed on injured reserve which, by definition, ends his season.
The situation for three other key Philadelphia players was not quite as dire after additional examination of their various injuries sustained in the 24-12 defeat. But team officials will hold their breath over the availability of some of the walking wounded for the prime time regular-season opener against the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sept. 8.
Starting wide receiver James Thrash and No. 4 defensive tackle Paul Grasmanis suffered head and neck injuries, but x-rays on both were negative, although they will need time to recover from concussions. The early projection is that the two veterans will be ready for the season opener.
The availability of starting strongside linebacker Carlos Emmons, who limped off the field with a high ankle sprain, is a bit more questionable. Emmons is a tough player and has historically been a quick healer. But high ankle sprains tend to linger, and with only a little more than two weeks remaining until the 2002 NFC championship game rematch, there is no way of knowing yet if the eighth-year veteran will be fully rehabilitated.
One team official acknowledged it will be "touch and go" for Emmons and the opener.
Green, 23, is a native of nearby Camden, N.J., played at that city's Woodrow Wilson High School, and had enjoyed a very good training camp.
He was the 131st player chosen overall in April and signed a four-year contract worth $1.695 million. A three-year starter for the Hurricanes, he registered 145 tackles and 24 sacks during his college career.
The Eagles on Saturday began trimming their roster, releasing a a dozen players, all of them first-year or rookie free agents. Philadelphia must still make three roster moves to reach the mandatory 65-player limit by Tuesday.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.