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Vick Breaks His Leg

Falcon quarterback is hurt in exhibition game, expected to miss at least four games of the season.

August 17, 2003|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick, arguably the NFL's most dynamic player, suffered a broken right fibula Saturday night during an exhibition game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Falcon Coach Dan Reeves said Vick could be sidelined until early October, meaning he would miss at least the first four games of the regular season.

"He's got a broken bone in his leg," Reeves told reporters after the Falcons' 13-10 loss. "They are saying he's probably going to be out six weeks, but they don't think he's going to have surgery.... It's a tough break for us."

The injury occurred late in the first quarter of a game at the Georgia Dome, when Vick was tackled by Adalius Thomas after being chased out of the pocket on third down. Vick fell awkwardly on his right leg, grabbing it even before he hit the ground.

Vick was on the ground for about five minutes, with medical staff and teammates kneeling around him. Finally, he was helped to a cart and driven to the locker room, drawing a standing ovation from the home crowd.

"[The injury] hurts our league and the Falcons, and I feel for him," said Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, who sat out most of last season because of a shoulder injury.

Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Donovan McNabb had a similar injury last season and missed two months. But Oakland Raider cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tory James both missed only three games last season because of cracked fibulas. Both played in the Super Bowl with metal plates in their legs.

Saint cornerback Ashley Ambrose, who played for Atlanta last year, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune: "Our coaches in Atlanta preached and preached to Mike last year, 'Make sure you get down.' I hope it wasn't one of those things where he was just being hardheaded in trying to make something happen. Teams will do what it takes to get him out of a game."

Fueled by the emergence of Vick, the Falcons increased their home attendance by 27% to 68,871 last season. They overcame a 1-3 start to finish 9-6-1 and made the playoffs for the first time in four years.

Vick, the first player selected in the 2001 draft, made the Pro Bowl last season in his first year as a starter. He passed for 2,936 yards and 16 touchdowns, and ran for 777 yards and eight touchdowns. He set three league records for rushing by a quarterback.

"I am terribly disappointed," he said in a statement released by the team. "But this is the ultimate team sport and we will have to keep playing. I have confidence that these guys and coaches can get it done."

Doug Johnson, beginning his fourth season, steps into the starting quarterback job.

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