• Doug Martin, RB, knee (Q): Martin injured his knee in the first game of the season and sat out last Sunday’s contest. With the team’s third game coming only four days later, it’s not clear whether he is quite ready to return to action. There have been no details released as to the nature of Martin’s injury, but he was able to participate in practice on a limited basis this week. It should be noted Martin was able to practice, albeit in limited fashion, last Thursday and Friday, but he still ended up on the sideline.
According to ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas, coach Lovie Smith did little to clarify Martin’s status. If anything, he indicated his preference would be to share the workload in any given week, if everyone is healthy. Everyone includes most notably, Bobby Rainey, who got the Week 2 start in Martin’s absence, rushing for 144 yards on 22 carries and catching three passes.
“We want to play more than one running back, two, maybe three," Smith said, per Yasinskas. They may get their wish if Martin is able to go. It appears he has a decent chance of doing so, although how much work he would get is unclear.
• Julio Jones, WR, ankle, (P): Jones appeared on the Falcons’ injury report this week because of an ankle issue. This ailment appears to be relatively minor and never seemed to threaten Jones’ status for the week. More importantly, his recently surgically repaired foot appears to be doing just fine. Jones was able to fully participate each day in practice during the shortened week and, listed probable, is expected to play.
• Roddy White, WR, knee, (Q): White may not have practiced this week because of a hamstring ailment, but his teammates don’t seem too concerned about his availability for Thursday night. According to ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure, White said he was “good” after injuring his hamstring in last Sunday’s matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. After all, the injury wasn’t serious enough for him to miss any offensive snaps.
Given the shortened week leading up to Thursday’s game, the nonparticipation in practice may be more about managing a veteran in order to ensure his availability while hopefully guarding against a setback. Entering Week 2, White was on the injury report because of his left knee. He had the knee drained during the offseason, and coach Mike Smith indicated White’s in-season practice preparation would be tempered at times to preserve him for game day.
So far, White hasn’t been restricted in games, and it is presumed he will take the field tonight. But there is at least a little concern when it comes to even minor hamstring injuries, given their propensity for being easily aggravated. The hope is White will survive the night without a setback, then take advantage of the 10-day break before the Falcons face the Minnesota Vikings. Given the questionable tag, fantasy owners should verify White’s status before kickoff.
Out: This is the easy one; the guy's definitely not playing Sunday. As painful as it might be to see this designation next to a player on your fantasy roster, at least you know in advance of the game that he's sitting out and you can plan accordingly.
Probable (P): This designation indicates that a player has a greater than 50 percent chance of playing. Most players listed here are expected to play, barring a setback between the final injury report and kickoff.
Questionable (Q): This is the fantasy owner's most dreaded player designation, yet it manages to be the one most frequently used by teams (often to keep everyone guessing). It means a player's status is on the fence; there is a 50-50 chance that he'll be on the field come game time, although, as many fantasy owners have come to learn, many teams use the "questionable" designation for any player with a hint of injury. Whether a player ends up active or inactive often comes down to a game-time decision based on how he performs in warm-ups. It is important for fantasy owners to check status reports leading up to the game.
Doubtful (D): The "doubtful" designation theoretically means a player has less than a 25 percent chance of playing that week. Rarely does a player labeled as doubtful end up playing, unless he experiences a major turnaround before game time. Fantasy owners who need to make roster adjustments beforehand can feel fairly confident about sitting a player listed as doubtful.
Good luck in Week 2, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, ribs, (P): When Newton sat out Week 1, it didn’t represent a setback; it signified a look ahead. The collective decision-making branch of the medical and coaching staff (wisely) determined it would be better to wait an additional week and allow further healing time for Newton’s cracked ribs rather than risk a setback from an inopportune hit that would further compromise his season. After all, it was clear from how Newton was practicing that he was feeling better and that he would not alter his style of play. That reluctance to alter his play is, in fact, a good thing, for it is Newton’s physical style that endears him to Panthers fans and fantasy owners. Thus, he sat out a game for the first time in his career. Newton appeared to be moving even better this week and practiced fully each day. The Panthers have stated since the start of the week that they expect to have him on the field Sunday, and, although his ribs are still healing internally, he is further along than a week ago and therefore less at risk of a setback.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, back, (P): Romo was on the field in Week 1, just as the Cowboys expected. His performance, however, was not up to expectations. A little rust was to blame, perhaps, after limited participation throughout the course of the preseason, but Romo insisted there were no problems or setbacks with his back. He practiced in full all week and is set to start in Week 2.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals, right shoulder, (Q): It’s not entirely clear just what type of shoulder ailment is bothering Palmer. Normally, his limited participation during the week, especially considering his age (34) and his veteran status, would not be particularly concerning. But since coach Bruce Arians indicated Friday that Palmer is dealing with a “nerve thing,” it deserves a little more attention. Does this refer to a pinched nerve in Palmer’s neck that might be affecting his shoulder? Peyton Manning dealt with such a condition a few years ago, the pinched nerve the result of a disc problem in his neck. Does it mean nerve irritation elsewhere in his throwing arm? That could be a transient condition, something that could resolve fairly quickly, or, it could be the beginning of a problem that could nag at him throughout the year. Neither would be a surprise given his age and, more specifically, his throwing age. And, let’s not forget Palmer partially tore his ulnar collateral ligament several years ago. He never underwent surgery -- and he has certainly quarterbacked successfully without it -- but it still represents a notable element of the injury history of his upper extremity that could factor into his current condition.
It’s possible this is just a minor setback resulting from the toll of the first full game of the season and the limited practices are intentional given the short week. But the team’s designation of Palmer as questionable makes it seem as if it's not so certain of his Sunday availability. It’s worth verifying his status before kickoff Sunday and, since the Cardinals traveled east to face the New York Giants, they play in the round of early games this week.
Shaun Hill, St. Louis Rams, thigh, (Q): Hill’s strained quad is absolutely a real injury, said head coach Jeff Fisher, and it was enough to keep Hill out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. Hill did do limited work Friday (“extremely limited,” according to ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner), but it was backup Austin Davis who saw most of the first-team reps this week. Fisher hinted at the real possibility Davis could start in Tampa Bay. “Austin is much better suited to play this game this week because of the starter reps he took this week,” Fisher said but noted that Hill was familiar enough with the offense to start if he is healthy enough to take the field. The concern would be exposing Hill to the possibility of further injury and an extended absence. Hill’s status is officially a game-time decision, and the Rams play in a late-afternoon game at Raymond James Stadium.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers, concussion, (P): Lacy did not practice Wednesday, but he progressed sufficiently through the post-concussion protocol to return to full practice Thursday. It must have gone well because coach Mike McCarthy indicated the team expects to have Lacy on the field Sunday for the home opener against the Jets.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals, foot, (Q): Ellington and his left foot managed to play (and play pretty well) in the team’s Monday night opener despite concerns in advance of the game that he might be out for an extended period of time. Although he performed better than many expected given the injury news, Ellington is not out of the woods. In essence, this is likely to be a condition that will need to be managed for a number of weeks, if not the entire season. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, not surprising given the injury and the short week, but did participate on a limited basis Friday. He is expected to play Sunday against the Giants and, in the absence of an in-game setback, should be able to perform as he did Monday.
Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, knee, (Q): After a day off Wednesday to rest his sore left knee, Martin returned to limited practices Thursday and Friday. Although coach Lovie Smith has not provided any details regarding the nature of Martin’s injury, ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas reported Friday that Smith “sounded optimistic” about his chances of playing Sunday against the Rams. This is a late-afternoon game, so fantasy owners should have a backup plan in place.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Oakland Raiders, hand, (Q): Despite Jones-Drew’s best intentions, it does not appear he will play in the team’s home opener against the Texans on Sunday after undergoing what has been termed a “minor procedure” on his right hand this week. In fact, ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson has said it would be “a surprise” if he plays, rendering Darren McFadden the likely starter with Latavius Murray to back him up. Jones-Drew denied reports of any fractures but was wearing a bandage near the ring finger of his swollen hand Thursday. Beyond having to potentially carry the ball on the opposite side, he reminded reporters that blocking and catching with his left hand might be more problematic. After not practicing at all this week, Jones-Drew is more likely to sit than start.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans, ribs, (P): Not much to see here. Foster is listed on the injury report because of rib soreness but was a full participant in practice throughout the week. He is expected to play Sunday in Oakland.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions, knee, (P): Bush has been on the injury report in the past because of his knee, so this doesn’t come as a total surprise. The pattern is also familiar: light work on Wednesday followed by increased practice on Thursday and Friday. At "probable," Bush is expected to play against the Panthers.
Knowshon Moreno, Miami Dolphins, shoulder, (P): The concerns around Moreno’s health in the preseason had everything to do with his knee, the one on which he had arthroscopic surgery in June. The knee held up to the demands of the first full game of the season -- to the tune of 134 yards rushing and a touchdown -- but Moreno popped up on this week’s injury report with a sore shoulder. It’s important to bear in mind that Moreno missed a decent amount of preseason time as he rehabbed his knee and increased his conditioning. His experiencing soreness in any region of the body doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Despite his being limited in practice throughout the week, the team has him listed as probable, indicating that the Dolphins expect him on the field when they travel to Buffalo.
Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle, (P): Gerhart’s status moved in a positive direction as the week went on from not practicing Wednesday to limited work Thursday to a full practice Friday. After he sprained his ankle Sunday, it was not clear how the postgame soreness would translate to his ability to return to work this week, especially, as ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco reports, given that Gerhart initially thought he had injured his knee and his ankle, maybe enough to end his season. Despite his fairly rapid improvement, several questions remain, including Gerhart’s ability to run effectively for a full game this week and his durability across the season. This week, however, look for Gerhart to start because the team has him listed as probable to face Washington.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers, thigh, (Q): The news that Williams missed the Thursday and Friday practices is concerning heading into Sunday, as is the "questionable" designation. As ESPN.com’s David Newton noted, Williams did do some running before Friday’s practice but coach Ron Rivera is worried about his “burst.” “He's a running back, and he's got to rely on that burst. ” Rivera said. “If he's the slightest bit hampered by it, [he'll sit].” Thankfully this is an early game Sunday, so Williams’ status will be determined while other options are still available.
Brandon Marshall, ankle, and Alshon Jeffery, hamstring, Chicago Bears, (Q): The Bears travel to San Francisco to play in the Sunday night game, and the big question is: Who will line up as wide receivers? Marshall and Jeffery were injured in Week 1, and their status has been a discussion point throughout the week. If one is to believe the player (always risky except, in this case, he has a pretty good track record), Marshall will play, as he stated midweek. Marshall did return to finish out last week’s game, but -- and this is significant -- he did not practice at all this week, other than to participate in the walkthrough as ESPN.com’s Michael C. Wright noted.
Jeffery did not return to the game after injuring his hamstring, but he did manage to put in a limited practice this week. He said he felt “pretty good” but noted that a game and a practice are different. No doubt the team will be evaluating how Jeffery responds to the work he did Friday. It’s likely that both players’ status will remain undetermined until pregame warm-ups, and head coach Marc Trestman was not shy about making that known.
“We've got up to 90 minutes before the game to make those kinds of decisions, so we're gonna use every minute of it to make sure we're gonna make the right decision in the best interest of the team, and certainly the player," Trestman said. Hopefully those interests will align with those of fantasy owners, although with this being the Sunday night game in San Francisco, backup plans are a must.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, foot, (P): Green popped up on the injury report Wednesday after being a limited participant in practice with a foot ailment. On Thursday, the panic meter went up when Green sat out practice entirely. He turned in a full practice Friday, however, and, with the "probable" tag, is virtually certain to play.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills, ribs, (P): The best news for Watkins is that he emerged from Sunday’s game no worse for the wear. After putting in full practices each day this week, Watkins is expected to play in the team’s home opener.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, ankle, (P): Johnson was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but was back as a full participant Friday. There has been no suggestion that this is a serious concern for Johnson, and the "probable" tag reinforces that thought.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons, knee, (P): White was limited Wednesday and Thursday but turned in a full practice on Friday. White’s knee does not present a serious threat to his status this week, but the condition will be something to monitor across the season, particularly given that he had his left knee drained in the offseason.
Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins, hamstring, (P): Wallace had a hamstring ailment that limited him each day in practice, but the plan is for him to play against Buffalo. The natural concern is that he might experience a setback during the game, but it appears he will take the field.
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys, back, (P): Last week, Williams was listed as "Q" and managed to play. This week, he is upgraded to probable after putting in full practices daily. His back is improving, and he will play against Tennessee.
Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans, knee, (P): Hunter was held to limited work just one day this week, and it was early (Wednesday). Full back-to-back practices Thursday and Friday decrease the concern about his knee, as does the "probable" designation. He is expected to play against the Cowboys.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers, ribs, (P): Allen played Monday after being listed on last week’s injury report because of the ribs. He again practiced fully each day and will play when the Chargers host Seattle on Sunday.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints, quadriceps, (P): The designation of probable comes as a bit of a surprise given that Stills remained limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday and only upgraded to full practice Friday. ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett summed up the Stills scenario this way Friday: “It’s always possible the Saints could stay cautious with Stills, as he suffered two setbacks with the quad injury when trying to come back too soon this summer. But Stills said the Saints already played it cautious by holding him out last week. He said he feels ready to go, and it’s just up to the coaches to give the green light.” After those setbacks, it’s hard to have high confidence in Stills until he can get through a game without incident. It’s possible this week could provide that test.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs, quadriceps, (P): Bowe was not on the field last week, but that was due to suspension, not injury. This Sunday should mark his regular-season debut, especially given that he practiced fully each day this week.
Cecil Shorts, hamstring, (D) and Marqise Lee, hamstring, (P), Jacksonville Jaguars: After missing last week’s game with a hamstring injury, Shorts could potentially be viewed as being upgraded this week but not by much. There is little to inspire confidence that he is actually healthy, especially given that he tested the leg in limited practice Wednesday but was held out of practice Thursday and Friday. Apparently, coach Gus Bradley is going to give Shorts right up until game time to rule him in or out, but, as ESPN.com’s DiRocco notes, Shorts will play only limited reps if he is active. Meanwhile, Shorts’ teammate Lee was limited with a hamstring issue Wednesday, upgraded to full practice Thursday but limited again Friday. The limited work Friday might have been proactive (after all, with Shorts’ ailment, they need Lee to be healthy) and the "probable" tag indicates the Jaguars expect to have Lee against Washington.
Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns, shoulder, (Q): Cameron represents a very legitimate “questionable” entry this week. He has not practiced since aggravating his right shoulder (AC sprain) in Sunday’s game, but the Browns will wait until inactives are due to make that decision. The risk for Cameron if he plays remains exactly what it was last week; an awkward landing could result in a setback and an early exit. Those concerns would suggest the Browns will play it cautious, but be sure to check pregame inactives as this could go either way.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, knee, (P): After playing in Week 1, Gronkowski’s status is upgraded from last week’s questionable to this week’s probable and he is expected to play. He remains limited in practice, which is not at all unusual coming off a first game after such a big surgery. Gronkowski could see more playing time this week, as well.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions, foot, (P): Pettigrew showed up on the injury report with a foot issue that kept him to limited practice Wednesday. He upgraded to full practice Thursday and Friday, though, and, at "probable," is expected to play.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins, knee, (P): Clay was kept to limited practices throughout the week, but the "probable" tag indicates the team plans on him playing. Expect him to get the start in Buffalo.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, hamstring, (P): Gates was a late addition to the injury report last week, not showing up with a hamstring ailment until Saturday. His status was very questionable heading into Monday night’s game, and, to those observing him in pregame warm-ups, he appeared limited. He turned out to be an effective target for Philip Rivers, netting six receptions for 81 yards on 10 targets. In other words, he was not just a decoy on the field, even if his hamstring was less than 100 percent. On this short week, Gates was limited Wednesday, got the day off Thursday, then returned for full practice Friday. The "probable" designation indicates the team is more confident in his status this week. Expect him to play in the team’s home opener against the Seahawks.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for the upcoming game.
Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns, knee: Since midweek, it has been clear Tate would miss this Sunday’s game; it now appears his absence could extend beyond Week 2. Look for updates next week as practice resumes.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington, hamstring: Reed injured his left hamstring after being tackled after his first -- and only -- catch of the game in Week 1. He is out this week, potentially longer.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ankle: He did not practice at all this week and will sit out the Week 2 contest.
Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants, hamstring: Beckham has endured multiple setbacks with a hamstring injury that bothered him throughout training camp. He missed Week 1 and has yet to return to practice.
Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals, foot: Jones fractured a bone in his foot in training camp and is expected to miss at least the first few weeks of the season.
Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks, hamstring: Michael did not practice at all this week and was ruled out of this contest early.
Off the injury report
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, calf: Good news for the 49ers in their home opener: Crabtree is no longer on the injury report. A calf strain late last week is no doubt partially responsible for his limited exposure in Week 1.
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles, ankle: Cooper’s status was never really in doubt last week despite the ankle injury, but it’s even more reassuring to not see him on the injury report at all.
Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now," Sundays at 11:00 a.m. ET on ESPN2 for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!
An interesting side note to this is that Lacy plans to return to the helmet he wore last season, according to Demovsky. After suffering a concussion last year, Lacy entered this season wearing the new Riddell “SpeedFlex” helmet, which, according to the company’s website, “features The Flex System, with flexibility engineered into the helmet’s shell, face mask and face mask attachment system with hinge clips to help reduce impact force transfer to the athlete.” While the website does not state the helmet will reduce concussions, according to Demovsky, Lacy was under the impression -- along with some of his teammates -- that it would. "That's what we all thought," said Lacy, who indicated several Packers' players with a history of concussions also wore the new helmet.
Let this be a reminder: Helmets do provide a means of head protection but they do not prevent concussions as there is no established way to effectively prevent the brain from moving within the skull. Concussion injury and management is still an evolving entity, and though the injury may not be preventable, there are certainly improved measures in place to control an athlete’s return to activity.
It is good to see a healthy Lacy back in practice. Barring any recurrence of symptoms prior to kickoff, it appears he will indeed take the field this Sunday.
Ben Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns (knee): Tate left Sunday’s game early with a reported knee injury, but the team has remained silent on the issue ever since. NFL Network reported Wednesday that Tate is expected to miss between two and four weeks with a knee sprain, a vague diagnosis that offers no real insight into his injury. Coach Mike Pettine is expected to address the injury concerns when he meets with the media on Wednesday.
Addendum: Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters Wednesday that Tate would "miss some time" with a knee sprain. Terrance West to start in his place on Sunday.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns (shoulder): It’s no secret that Cameron was dealing with an acromioclavicular (AC) sprain in his shoulder during the preseason. He initially suffered the injury in early August and missed the team’s first preseason game. Unfortunately for any pass-catcher, a fall on the point of the shoulder can easily aggravate these types of injuries. The AC ligaments conjoin the collarbone (clavicle) and the tip of the shoulder blade (acromion), and while the tissue is in the healing phase, it is susceptible to reinjury, particularly from a direct blow such as a fall. According to ESPN.com’s Pat McManamon, the Browns signed tight end Gerell Robinson, formerly of the Denver Broncos practice squad. Pettine is expected to address the concerns when he meets with the media on Wednesday.
Addendum: Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters Wednesday that Cameron's status is day-to-day.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (leg): Martin entered the season healthy, fully recovered from the shoulder injury he sustained in Week 7 of the 2013 season that ultimately led to surgery to repair a torn labrum. The clean bill of health didn’t last long, however, as Martin suffered a left-leg injury in Week 1 that kept him out of the game late. Martin told the Tampa Bay Times that someone rolled on his leg, and he was sporting a wrap after the game. Coach Lovie Smith did not deliver an update on Martin’s status Monday.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (ankle): Gerhart sprained his ankle in the second quarter of Sunday’s game and it looked as if it might be the end of the day for him if not longer. To his credit, Gerhart was able to return although he acknowledged being “really sore” after the game. According to ESPN’s Michael DiRocco, Gerhart is expected to play Sunday against Washington. Expect Gerhart’s practice activity to be limited leading up to the game but, as of now, it appears he will try to press through it. The question will be how effective of a runner he can be and there is the risk of an in-game setback. The bigger question may be just how Gerhart will hold up across a season. He has never held a feature role and he missed time last year with the Vikings as a result of a hamstring injury sustained after he replaced an injured Adrian Peterson. He already dealt with a hip flexor injury during training camp; now there’s the ankle injury. Time will tell.
Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Brandon Marshall (ankle), WR, Chicago Bears: The Bears’ two top wide receivers each dealt with injury in the season opener; the next question is whether those will factor into games beyond that first outing. Marshall appeared to injure an ankle and left the game twice to get taping reinforcement but was able to return and finish out the game. There seems to be little concern about his availability for Week 2. His teammate Jeffery was not able to finish the game however after straining a hamstring, although coach Marc Trestman suggested he could have returned if necessary. As of Monday, Trestman had no additional updates leaving Jeffery’s practice status in question.
Shaun Hill, QB, St. Louis Rams (quadriceps): A strained left quadriceps, not a poor performance, sidelined Hill for the second half of Sunday’s game. Head coach Jeff Fisher said Hill was experiencing discomfort late in the first half and the decision was made at halftime to hold him out for the remainder of the game. His status will be day-to-day throughout the week, but if Hill is healthy enough to play, Fisher says he will indeed start. If Hill represented a significant running threat, the quad strain might be more of a concern, but that is not the case. Although pain associated with tightness in the thigh resulting from any bleeding or edema was enough to sideline Hill last Sunday, with treatment over the next few days, there’s a decent chance he’ll be ready to go this week.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins (hamstring): Reed came into Week 1 with concerns about a sprained thumb suffered in the preseason. He exited the game early with concerns about a hamstring strain and how long it might linger. Reed, projected to be a top-10 fantasy tight end this season, had just one reception for 4 yards before departing due to injury. In fact, following the tackle after he made that reception, when Reed tried to get up and walk, the injury made itself apparent. Reed hopped on his right leg, unwilling to initially put his weight on the left leg. As he limped toward the bench, Reed instinctively reached around to the back of his upper left thigh, one of the universal hallmarks of a hamstring injury.
On Monday coach Jay Gruden labeled Reed’s hamstring strain as mild yet noted he “could miss some time.” According to ESPN’s John Keim, the team is still awaiting Reed’s MRI results. The greatest concern with even mild hamstring injuries is that they will turn into something more significant if a player attempts to do too much too soon. It certainly appears that backup plans are warranted for Reed, whether that ends up being for one week or longer.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals (elbow): The Bengals have yet to confirm the nature of the injury to Eifert's right elbow or indicate how much time he might miss. Eifert was seen wearing a sling while standing on the sidelines Sunday after the injury occurred, and the NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported it was a dislocated elbow. A dislocated elbow with no complications could result in approximately a four- to six-week absence; an associated fracture or extensive soft tissue trauma could require a longer recovery. Fantasy owners should seek other options.
Addendum: On Thursday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Bengals have placed Eifert on IR/designated to return. Under this designation, Eifert will be eligible to return to practice after six weeks and eligible to return to the active list after eight weeks. This means Eifert could potentially return to play in the Bengals' Thursday night game against the Browns on Nov. 6.
For those who may be first-time fantasy football players: Injury reports provide clues to a player's status for fantasy owners. The NFL requires teams to submit their injury reports several times a week, identifying the body part that is involved in the injury. Early in the week, these reports will indicate whether a player is not practicing, is limited in practice or is a full participant in practice. On Fridays, all players on the injury report are assigned one of the following designations by their teams: probable, questionable, doubtful or out. Teams playing on Monday night do not have to issue their designations until Saturday. The explanation for each designation is as follows.
Out: This is the easy one: The guy's definitely not playing Sunday. As painful as it might be to see this designation next to a player on your fantasy roster, at least you know in advance of the game that he's sitting out, and you can plan accordingly.
Probable (P): This designation indicates that a player has a greater than 50 percent chance of playing. Most players listed here are expected to play, barring a setback between the final injury report and kickoff.
Questionable (Q): This is the fantasy owner's most dreaded player designation, yet it manages to be the one most frequently utilized by teams (often to keep everyone guessing). It means a player's status is on the fence; there is a 50-50 chance that he'll be on the field come game time, although as many fantasy owners have come to learn, many teams utilize the "questionable" designation for any player with a hint of injury. Whether a player ends up active or inactive often comes down to a game-time decision based on how he performs during warm-ups. It is important for fantasy owners to check status reports leading up to the game.
Doubtful (D): The doubtful designation means a player has theoretically less than a 25 percent chance of playing that week. Rarely does a player labeled as doubtful end up playing, unless he experiences a major turnaround before game time. Fantasy owners who need to make roster adjustments beforehand can feel fairly confident about sitting a player listed as doubtful.
Each week in the Saturday blog, we run down a list of key fantasy players, by position, who appear in the Friday injury report along with the injured body part as listed on the report, player status and any relevant developments or insight. The primary fantasy positions are covered (quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end). At the end, key fantasy players listed Friday as "Out" for that week's games will appear as a group.
Good luck in Week 1, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, ribs, (Q): Newton underwent surgery to stabilize the lateral aspect of his left ankle in March. His progress through training camp pointed to a Week One start, but in the Panthers’ third preseason game, he suffered a rib injury. The team initially expressed confidence Newton would play in the season opener but persistent soreness this week has made him a game-time decision. On Thursday, Newton said he was “on pace” to play Sunday and he did practice fully on Friday but if he does play, the question will be how limited he might be, particularly as the game progresses. Discomfort from the rib injury could impact his throwing ability late in the game and any big hit -- which Newton is prone to taking -- could force an early exit.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots, calf, (Q): Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Tom Brady is on the Patriots’ injury report. Despite Brady’s fairly regular appearance here over the years, outside of his absence for the bulk of 2008 following an ACL injury, he has missed only one other game in the past 13 seasons. Despite popping up on Thursday’s injury report with a calf issue that kept him out of practice, Brady not only returned to (limited) practice Friday, he indicated on his weekly radio appearance on Westwood One on Thursday evening that he was “looking forward to playing on Sunday.” The expectation is that he will play, and given that mobility and scrambling are not his signature characteristics, this should not significantly impact him.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, back, (P): Romo had surgery in late December to address a herniated disc in his low back that was causing pain in his hamstring area. He was cleared to return at the start of training camp but his slow progression had some concerned. His first preseason action came in the second game and Romo demonstrated good mobility and the ability to get the ball downfield. In the third preseason game he absorbed several sacks and bounced back up. The Cowboys had a progression plan for Romo all along with the target date for full competition being the first regular-season game. After practicing fully all week and with the probable designation, it appears that target will indeed be met.
Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals, left foot, (Q): Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians has declared Ellington a gametime decision for Monday night after Ellington was able to do some limited work Saturday. Perhaps the greatest rumblings in the fantasy football community this weekend have surrounded the unclear status of the Cardinals’ primary running back. The panic began Thursday when Ellington did not complete practice and was listed as limited due to a left foot injury. That night, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen cited a source as indicating Ellington might be having trouble with his footwear, and that the team wasn’t overly concerned but subsequent news of an MRI and a consultation with a foot specialist raised the specter of something more serious.
Reports ranged from the possibility of a multi-week absence to no missed time, but until late Saturday there was no formal word from the team other than to indicate that backup Jonathan Dwyer would be prepared to step up if Ellington could not go. There has been no information from the team as to the nature of Ellington’s injury, making it virtually impossible to assess how effective he can be if he does play. Since the Cardinals do not play until Monday night, fantasy owners are advised to have an alternate plan in place for insurance.
Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens, concussion, (P): Pierce suffered a concussion in the team’s third preseason game but has subsequently passed all the mandated tests and returned to full practices this week. With teammate Ray Rice suspended, Pierce is expected to start.
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills, ribs, (P): Watkins injured his ribs in the second preseason game, sat out the third, then returned in the fourth … only to leave that game early after aggravating the ribs. The days between then and the season opener have been used to help quiet the flared-up discomfort and to modify the protective padding Watkins will wear Sunday. After practicing in full every day this week and listed as probable, Watkins is indeed expected to play in the Bills regular-season opener but the rib issue, while improved, has not completely resolved. The question will be whether another hit (or multiple hits) like the one that aggravated his condition less than two weeks ago will again force him out of the game early.
Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles, ankle, (P): The good news is that Cooper practiced in full every day this week and the probable designation indicates the team expects to have him on the field. The hope is that he is indeed past this ankle issue as well as the foot injury that hindered him during the preseason.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, calf, (Q): After returning to limited practice Thursday, Crabtree told reporters it was a minor calf issue that kept him out Wednesday and proclaimed he would be ready to play in Dallas by Sunday. ESPN NFL Insider Chris Mortensen cited a source as suggesting the injury might be more serious than Crabtree was letting on, however, and that he will be a game-time decision. The expectation is that Crabtree’s status will come down to the wire, and this is an afternoon game on Sunday. Perhaps the bigger-picture concern is that Crabtree dealt with a hamstring injury earlier in camp and now has another lower-extremity issue, not confidence-inspiring for an athlete so recently removed from an Achilles tendon repair.
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys, back, (Q): The Cowboys have high hopes for the young receiver this year but his status for Week 1 was called into question after he sat out Thursday’s practice with a back bruise. The good news is Williams was able to return to limited practice Friday and he has said he plans to play Sunday.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers, ribs, (P): It appears Allen is in line to play on Monday night after putting in full practices every day this week.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals, knee, (P): There was no indication during the week that Fitzgerald’s status was in question for Monday night, despite his presence on the injury report. Oh, by the way, Fitzgerald hasn’t missed a game since 2007. He practiced in full this week and, at probable, is expected to play.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers, shoulder, (D): Bryant suffered a sprained AC (acromioclavicular) joint in his right shoulder in the Steelers’ preseason finale. After not practicing Wednesday and Thursday, Bryant did limited work Friday but the doubtful tag indicates he is not expected to suit up this week.
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, knee, (Q): Despite the questionable tag and coach Bill Belichick’s attempt to dampen Gronkowski’s enthusiastic exclamation that he would return in Week 1, there is every expectation that Gronkowski will take the field in his return from an ACL reconstruction in his right knee. How many snaps he sees are unclear but there’s no denying his involvement when he’s on the field, especially in the red zone. Even potentially limited action for Gronkowski in his first game since surgery is likely to be very valuable.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, hamstring, (Q): Gates is a late addition to the injury report, as in Saturday late. He apparently suffered a hamstring injury during the team’s Saturday practice although there are no details as to the severity. His questionable designation indicates he is no sure thing to play Monday night and given both the late game and the injury appearing so late in the week, fantasy owners should make backup plans.Jordan Reed, Washington, thumb, (Q): Reed had a sprained thumb which kept him out of practice the last week of August. His return to full practice this entire week suggests he will indeed take the field Sunday but fantasy owners are advised to confirm his status before kickoff.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals, shoulder, (P): Eifert dealt with a shoulder injury during OTAs, which he dismissed as not serious. During training camp Eifert aggravated the shoulder, however, and missed the team’s last three preseason games. This week he returned to full practice and says his shoulder is much improved and that he plans to play. The probable tag supports that notion.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured-reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars, hamstring: The oft-injured but very tough wide receiver has been ruled out of Sunday’s season opener against the Eagles due to hamstring tightness that cropped up late this week. Shorts sustained a Grade 2 (moderate) right hamstring strain on the first day of training camp (July 25) and did not start practicing with the team until more than three weeks later (August 17). Now less than three weeks later (Sept. 4), Shorts was not able to finish practice due to tightness in his left hamstring. He participated in Friday’s walkthrough but not in the team’s afternoon practice. Although Shorts indicated this episode is not as serious as what he experienced on the opposite side in July, the team obviously felt it was in everyone’s best interest to keep him out this week. Given the demands of his position and his prior history of soft tissue injuries, this does not come as a shock.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints, quadriceps: Stills has been dealing with a nagging quadriceps injury for several months, enduring multiple frustrating setbacks in the process. This week he had two limited practices Wednesday and Friday with a non-practice in between on Thursday. It appeared unlikely he would take the field, especially with the latest setback coming just two weeks ago and on Saturday the Saints downgraded him to out.
Odell Beckham, New York Giants, hamstring: Beckham has endured multiple setbacks with a hamstring injury that bothered him throughout training camp. He has not practiced at all this week and on Saturday was downgraded to out for Monday night’s game.
Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals, foot: Jones fractured a bone in his foot in training camp and is expected to miss at least the first few weeks of the season.
Lance Moore, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, groin: Moore missed the Steelers’ final preseason game with a groin injury and has not practiced at all this week. There is no indication as to whether this will be more than a one-week issue.
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