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Can Parker play with shoulder injury?

11/10/2008

The good news? Not too many injury additions following the weekend contests. The bad news? The status of a number of key fantasy players (Steven Jackson, Kyle Orton, Reggie Bush) remains shrouded in mystery until we get through at least the midweek practices. So we start with what we know as of our first look following Week 10.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers:
We knew in advance of Sunday's game that Parker would sit out after suffering a shoulder injury in Monday night's game against the Redskins. All reports indicated that he was expected to return in Week 11. Then shortly before kickoff, NFL.com reported that Parker had suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder, which could further threaten his status. ESPN's Bob Holtzman later reported that Parker denied the NFL.com report and said that no one had informed him that he had a labral tear. He added that he expects to play in Week 11. Now it's Monday and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is confirming the original report that Parker indeed has a torn labrum, but also says that coach Mike Tomlin is hopeful that Parker will be available in Week 11.

Assuming Parker does have a labral tear, how will this affect him? It's not comfortable, and it may well be a condition that warrants offseason surgery, but it's not likely anything that will keep him off the field for an extended time, either. We have seen other non-throwing athletes play through this type of injury; Chad Johnson of the Bengals is playing with a similar condition now. If Parker were a quarterback, a torn labrum would present a much bigger challenge, as it would interfere with his ability to bring his arm overhead. Since he primarily keeps his arm at his side, mechanically the labral tear should not impact him greatly, but it can be painful if he takes a hit or lands on his shoulder. Uncomfortable? Perhaps. Season-threatening? Not likely. Enough of a reason for fantasy owners to hang on to Mewelde Moore? Absolutely.

Adalius Thomas, LB, Patriots:
Dealing with yet another injury-related blow to their lineup, this time on the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots will apparently be going without their leading pass-rusher for the remainder of the season. ESPN's Michael Smith is reporting that Thomas suffered a broken forearm Sunday and has likely played his last game in 2008. Coming on the heels of losing Rodney Harrison, this is another big defensive loss for the Patriots. If you're looking to pick up an IDP, Pierre Woods is likely next in line to replace Thomas.

Other noteworthy injuries:

The Kansas City Chiefs have lost quarterbacks and running backs, yet still managed to nearly pull off a victory over the Chargers on Sunday. This week, Jamaal Charles was the starter at running back, but had a setback with his ankle and was out of the game more than he was in it. Charles originally sprained his ankle against the Jets in late October and early reports in the Kansas City Star suggested that it was a high-ankle sprain. The very next week, however, Charles was active, and in fact replaced Kolby Smith when Smith left with a season-ending knee injury. With Larry Johnson serving a suspension, Charles was thrust into the role of feature back, but clearly his ankle was not quite up to the task. It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs' plan is going forward, and practices this week should help clarify the situation.

In Baltimore, wide receiver Derrick Mason was injured on the second drive but returned for the second half in what coach John Harbaugh termed a "courageous" effort. NFL.com is reporting that Mason suffered a shoulder dislocation. Whether Mason subluxed his shoulder (partial dislocation) or truly dislocated it is unclear, as the term dislocation is often used to indicate both. Either way, Mason's return is impressive, and the fact he returned to play in the second half suggests he should be able to play this week. That being said, the soreness and swelling is often worse in the initial few days post-injury, so we will see what Mason is able to do in practice this week.

A few additional items to pay attention to this week: Bears' receiver Brandon Lloyd was a surprise inactive Sunday after practicing all week and being listed as probable. Will he be ready for this week? If he does come back, will Kyle Orton be throwing to him? Orton has hinted that he wants to play in Week 11, but he will need to show in practice that he can move on his injured ankle well enough to warrant a start. ... In Oakland, the Raiders were without starting quarterback JaMarcus Russell and running back Darren McFadden. Russell had a flare-up of tendinitis that worsened late in the week. Will he need more rest or was one Sunday off enough? McFadden has been struggling with turf toe in both feet for several weeks. There are murmurs that he may be rested indefinitely to ensure that he returns to full health. ... Saints receiver Marques Colston showed he has recovered from thumb surgery and is back to game speed, as he had an outstanding performance despite the Saints' loss. Teammate Jeremy Shockey, however, had a disappointing day, despite good projections after looking very healthy in practice all week. Shockey's absence in the fourth quarter was "officially" injury-related, and his right ankle was indeed swollen after the game, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Nonetheless, Billy Miller still appears to be the more favored, and more productive, tight end in the Saints' offense.

Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. No more bye weeks and always a Thursday game, so lineup adjustments have to be made a bit earlier. Also, stop by the injury chat (11 a.m. ET on Tuesday and Friday) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!