Welcome to Tuesday following the first week of football. There already were some key injuries heading into Week 1, so you know there are more to add to the list.
The NFL has put a spotlight on concussion management with its new guidelines regarding return to play following these injuries. That spotlight became much brighter after several key players went down with concussion injuries in the first week of the football season. People are paying close attention to how these players are managed post-injury, and it will come as no surprise to see a more conservative approach adopted around the league. For fantasy owners, that means wasting no time in securing a replacement, just in case.
Beyond concussions, there were several other injuries in Week 1 that might warrant realigning your fantasy roster, namely a big one in Green Bay. Here's what we know as the preparations for Week 2 get under way.
Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay Packers: The Packers starting running back has not missed a game due to injury in three seasons. Unfortunately, he will not extend that streak to four. Grant is expected to be placed on injured reserve after suffering a severe ankle injury that will require surgery and extended rehab time.
Grant suffered the injury in Week 1 when the outside of his leg got rolled on. His leg was forced inward while the sole of his right foot pointed outward, and he was clearly in pain after the injury. Reports relating to the surgery Grant will undergo hint at the extent of the damage. NFL.com's Steve Wyche reports that Grant will have a screw inserted, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Grant will be on crutches for 10 to 12 weeks. The emerging details suggest Grant suffered a Grade III syndesmosis injury, more commonly known as a high ankle sprain. Already more complicated than the common lateral ankle sprain, a Grade III high ankle sprain would represent the most severe form of this injury.
In the case of a Grade III sprain, the ligaments that connect the two leg bones (tibia and fibula) where they form the "roof" of the ankle (hence the term "high" ankle) are torn. The two bones can then spread apart, creating significant instability at the ankle. Surgery is the standard form of treatment in this case, with screws typically inserted to provide stability. The specifics of surgery and subsequent rehab depend on the full extent of damage in the ankle and, in some cases, higher up in the leg. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Grant has a small fracture higher up in the fibula (the outer of the two lower leg bones), which, while not as serious as the main injury, adds to the damage. The full extent of Grant's injury might not be known until after surgery.
Full healing is necessary to help prevent future complications at the ankle, so it would not be surprising for this to signal the end of Grant's season. That said, players have returned from this type of injury before, so it does not necessarily present a threat to his career.
Brandon Jackson, who replaced Grant in the second quarter of Sunday's game following the injury, is expected to be the starter this week.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Kolb suffered a concussion in Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers and is not looking as if he'll be available this week. While Kolb's evaluation will occur on an ongoing basis throughout the week, it was clear Monday that he had not improved sufficiently to move forward with preparations for Week 2.
According to Comcast SportsNet, Kolb did not pass the testing administered by team doctors Monday and was sent home from the practice facility afterward. In addition to evaluating player symptoms following a concussion (for the presence of headache, nausea and dizziness, among other things), the medical staff conducts neurocognitive testing, which measures how the brain is processing information. Before a player returns, he must be free of all signs and symptoms of concussion at rest as well as during and after activity. Additionally, his neurocognitive test results must return to baseline (as determined by comparing post-concussion results to baseline testing performed prior to the start of the season). Each player who suffers a concussion also must be cleared to practice and play not only by the team physician but by an independent neurological consultant as per the NFL guidelines revised in January this year.
It's important to keep in mind that while a recovering player is resting his brain from the stresses of physical activity, he also must refrain from mental exertion that could equally tax the healing brain. Consequently, he cannot view film, study playbooks, attend meetings or participate in other forms of game-day preparation. His only task right now is to rest.
At this point, it appears unlikely Kolb will be ready to start in Week 2 (enter Michael Vick), but the situation is fluid. Coach Andy Reid has said Kolb is his unquestioned starter if healthy, so how he progresses daily will determine his status.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: After getting both his knee and his nonthrowing shoulder healthy in the offseason, Stafford did not have much time to enjoy the Week 1 experience. Late in the first half, Stafford was forced out of the game following a sack on which his throwing shoulder absorbed the brunt of the contact with the turf. Since this is the primary mechanism by which quarterbacks suffer shoulder injuries (just ask Stafford to tell you how his left shoulder was injured last season), it was no surprise to learn that he indeed sustained a sprain of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, also known as a separated shoulder. The problem this time is it's his throwing arm. Last season, while the injury was uncomfortable, Stafford could gut it out through the bulk of the season because his throwing arm was unaffected. Not this time.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Stafford could barely lift his arm after the game, one of the hallmark signs of an AC sprain. Stafford was sporting a sling to support the injured joint and will spend the first few days primarily resting the shoulder. Over the next few weeks, the goal will be restoring range of motion and strength followed by a return to a throwing program.
Stafford reportedly has gone to Birmingham, Ala., to get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. This comes as no surprise since Stafford underwent a minor knee surgery there in December. The expectation is that he will not require surgery, as this is a Grade II or moderate sprain. Even in the case of a complete or Grade III AC sprain, a surgical solution is not automatic. St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a Grade III injury to his throwing shoulder last season while at Oklahoma. Originally, he was treated nonoperatively; it was a reinjury to the same shoulder several weeks later that led to him ultimately opting for surgery.
The key for Stafford will be allowing sufficient time for the damaged ligaments to heal. Since there can be quite a bit of variability within the category of Grade II sprains, it's hard to offer a definitive timetable. That said, the Lions probably are looking at a range of anywhere from three to eight weeks for Stafford to not only recover to the point of being able to throw effectively, but to be able to return to absorb contact with minimal fear of reinjury.
Other quick hits:
• St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson had some swelling in his right knee after Sunday's game, which led to an MRI on Monday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that coach Steve Spagnuolo expects Jackson to be fine, but it's important to keep an eye on what he does in practice this week. It's worth noting that Jackson saw limited action in the preseason, as he was coming off back surgery, so this might be a function of increased work.
• Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Moore suffered a concussion Sunday, as did New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss. Moore reportedly already has improvement, but that doesn't mean the Panthers will take this any less seriously. His status will be day-to-day. In Boss' case, this represents his third reported concussion in three years. Caution is definitely warranted here. It would be surprising to see Boss in the lineup this week.
• Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was out Week 1 as expected with a knee bruise, but coach Ken Whisenhunt has nicely let fantasy owners know that his second-year back is planning to return to practice Wednesday. If Wells tolerates practice well, fantasy owners should also expect him to be back on the field Sunday.
• Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels was in for more plays Sunday than originally projected. That said, he was rarely a target. Sunday was his first game action since undergoing ACL reconstruction, so fantasy owners should expect it to take a few weeks for him to get up to speed.
• In the disheartening news department, Philadelphia Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver suffered one of the more gruesome injuries of the weekend and is done for the year. Weaver's foot remained planted while his knee was visibly hyperextended and rotated. The Eagles have placed him on injured reserve with an ACL tear, but the full extent of the injury might not be appreciated until he undergoes surgery. Meanwhile, New York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins tore his left ACL on Monday night, the same ACL he just had reconstructed last year. For both of these players, there has to be some question as to whether they will return to football.
We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses.
See you at the injury chats (Tuesday and Friday from 3 to 4 p.m. ET), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 2 in the Saturday morning blog.