Work in Sports
Dallas QB Aikman unlikely to play Sunday vs. Eagles
IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Troy Aikman's back remained so sore Thursday that he could not bend over to take a snap, making it unlikely that he will play Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys face the Philadelphia Eagles.
While he did not rule himself out -- "doubtful" was the exact term -- Aikman sounded more optimistic of playing the following week because he's scheduled to undergo a second series of pain-relieving injections Monday.
The first round, taken early last week, left Aikman feeling better than he had in years. That ended in the first quarter of last Sunday's game when he was slammed to the turf by Jacksonville's Tony Brackens.
"[Thursday], the muscle finally got out of spasming. It was pretty locked up yesterday," Aikman said. "It's not the same pain that I had when I had the shots a week ago; it's worse because I can't take a snap. I can't bend over. I think I can throw a ball, it's just doing everything else that's required."
Aikman did not practice for a second consecutive day. If he feels strong enough to practice Friday, there's a chance he could start Sunday.
When asked if it would take a miracle, he smiled, laughed and said: "That's what they're telling me."
"It doesn't look real good for me right now," Aikman said. "But I would anticipate that the back will feel better and that I'll respond to the shots Monday and I'll be able to go next week."
Aikman said the hard turf at Veterans Stadium and the fact Philadelphia gave him a concussion in the opener are not factors in his decision.
Should Aikman sit out, Randall Cunningham would get his third start of the year. Cunningham has not played in Philadelphia since his 11-year career with the Eagles ended in 1995.
"Hopefully I won't go broke buying tickets," he said.
The pain in the lower left side of Aikman's back stems from pieces of a herniated disk left behind during a 1993 operation. The initial injury came while lifting weights.
The irritation has gotten worse every year since '96 and became so bad in recent weeks that he was willing to get the shots. Doctors said he can have up to three rounds per year.
The first dosage worked so well that he wouldn't have needed another had it not been for the blow by Brackens. Aikman said he doesn't expect to need a needle after every big hit.
"If that was what was required every time to try to get out and play, then it would be a big concern," he said. "I don't anticipate being in this much pain each week and to go through this to get back onto the field."
Aikman is enduring the most frustrating season of his career.
After an off-season overhaul reshaped the Cowboys to better suit him, Aikman has been knocked out of two games in the first quarter and missed two more because of injury. The Cowboys are 1-3 in those games and 2-2 when he finishes.
He's thrown nine interceptions, including five in one game, and has just 736 passing yards -- 4 fewer than Cunningham and the fewest among all NFL starters. He's the lowest-rated passer in the NFC and second-worst in the league.
Despite it all, Aikman said he's not considering retirement.
"I have not re-evaluated anything," he said. "That's really not an issue."