The Philadelphia Eagles keep losing players even before the season begins.

Backup running back Correll Buckhalter, who has a history of injuries, will miss the season after undergoing knee surgery for the third time in four years. Buckhalter, who missed nearly all of training camp, underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a torn patella tendon in his right knee.

Last year, he had season-ending surgery on the same tendon after he injured it in a preseason game.

“He’s a great kid,” coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. “He worked so hard in the offseason. He came back in phenomenal shape. We were looking forward to getting him back out there. He did some good things. For that to happen, your heart goes out to the guy.”

Buckhalter was injured in practice Aug. 5, but initial MRI tests were inconclusive. Dr. James Andrews, the same surgeon who operated on Buckhalter’s knee last year, performed the surgery Tuesday in Alabama on the fifth-year pro out of Nebraska.

The injury leaves the Eagles thin and small at running back, with starter Brian Westbrook, rookie Ryan Moats and third-year pro Reno Mahe as the top three runners. Westbrook and Mahe are generously listed at 5-foot-10 and Moats is 5-8.

Packers

Three-time Pro Bowl tight end Bubba Franks agreed to a long-term contract with the Packers. Franks got a seven-year, $28 million deal, according to a person familiar with the contract who requested anonymity.

Brett Favre, who criticized wide receiver Javon Walker this summer for threatening a holdout with two years left on his contract, stood solidly in Franks’ corner, saying the Packers needed to reward their durable tight end.

Franks has appeared in all 80 games and six playoff games in the first five years of his career. His 28 TD catches rank second in franchise history behind Paul Coffman’s 39, and his 188 receptions are tied with Mark Chmura for third among tight ends.

The 14th overall pick in the 2000, Franks missed all of training camp while the two sides negotiated a deal after he refused to sign a one-year, $2.095 million tender as the Packers’ transition player.

Browns

Lee Suggs again finished a training camp watching from the sideline after sustaining a high ankle sprain during practice last week, and Cleveland’s speedy running back doesn’t know when he’ll be back.

“The doctors haven’t given me a timetable,” he said. “I’ll be out there as soon as I can. I just don’t know when that is. I want to get back on the field and play.”

It’s the second straight year Suggs, who rushed for 744 yards in 10 games last season, has been injured toward the end of camp.

Defensive end Michael Strahan missed his second practice with strained rib cartilage. Strahan experienced tightness in his rib cage after doing drills Tuesday and sat out the evening practice. He said Wednesday he still hoped to play against the Jets on Friday night.

The six-time Pro Bowler missed the final eight games of the 2004 season with a torn pectoral muscle and has seen limited action in the Giants’ first two preseason games. He was scheduled to get more playing time Friday night.

Broncos

Rookie safety Brandon Browner will miss the season with a broken arm, and was placed on injured reserve. Browner impressed coaches with several interceptions and aggressive play in training camp, and was a strong defender in goal-line and red-zone drills.

But the promising undrafted rookie from Oregon State broke his left forearm Saturday against San Francisco.

He is the second safety lost before the season starts. Chris Young went out with a knee injury last week.

Cowboys

Injuries were at least partly to blame for the release of Billy Cundiff, Dallas’ kicker the last three seasons; offensive lineman Jacob Rogers, a second-round pick last year; fullback Darian Barnes, who played every game last season and started 10 times; and free safety Izell Reese, signed in June to add experience at a position manned mostly by unproven players.

By not putting Rogers on injured reserve, the Cowboys simply gave up on him, convinced he’d never be able to contribute even if healthy. Dallas took him with the 52nd pick and was hoping the All-American from Southern Cal could have been their starting right tackle last season, then again this season.

Redskins

Linebacker LaVar Arrington says the upcoming season will determine whether he’s “washed up.”

The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker returned to practice last week after a lengthy rehabilitation from two knee operations and is expected to play Friday against Pittsburgh.

“People think I might be washed up, so maybe they’ll see something like that,” Arrington said. “Maybe they won’t. We’ll wait and see. It just makes it all the better if it’s proven wrong. If it’s not, then I’m washed up. I’m just waiting to get the opportunity.

“Do I feel washed up? No. But am I going to talk a lot of trash? We’ll wait and see what happens.”

Arrington hurt his knee in the opener last season and played only four games. Without him, the defense had a superb season, ranking No. 3 overall.


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