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Thursday, September 15, 2011
Bradford, Foster look better; watch Nicks

By Stephania Bell


Quarterbacks

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: On Tuesday, we outlined Bradford's injury concerns following the hit to his index finger in Week 1. On Wednesday, the Rams got some good news (one might say deservedly so, after all of the blows they were dealt on Sunday). Bradford returned to practice sooner than expected and looked better than expected. He was making numerous throws in practice Wednesday, prompting wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker to say, "I would've never thought he had a hand problem today, if I'd never seen the game Sunday," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Post-Dispatch notes that Bradford has been wearing a glove connected to an electrical stimulation unit to help with swelling reduction. Apparently, something has been helping. Bradford said his hand felt, "10 times better than it did on Sunday" and plans to play Monday night. Naturally one of the keys, beyond the finger feeling better, is how effectively he can deliver the ball. Based on what his teammates are saying, that question appears to have been answered. Barring a setback, Bradford's quick progress suggests he will be under center Monday night.



Running backs

Arian Foster
Arian Foster hopes not to be sitting on the bench again this week after missing the season opener with a hamstring injury.
Arian Foster and Derrick Ward, Houston Texans: After sitting out Week 1, Foster returned to practice Wednesday and, according to coach Gary Kubiak, took the normal reps "for a starter" in the workout. Officially listed as a limited participant on the NFL injury report, Foster said that while he felt "pretty fluid" during the workout, he was still taking it day-by-day. The Texans were eager to see how Foster's hamstring responded to getting back into practice mode. It must have been no worse for the wear, considering he did it all again Thursday. HoustonTexans.com writer Nick Scurfield posted via Twitter that Kubiak described Foster as "much better" today and indicates if the trend continues, Foster will play Sunday. Meanwhile, Ward, who started in place of Foster in Week 1 but left early with an ankle injury, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He appears unlikely to practice Friday either but an official decision as to his status may not come until the weekend.



Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: Jackson, who exited Week 1 early with a right quadriceps strain, did not practice Wednesday but instead spent time receiving treatment on his thigh. Although he has not yet been ruled out for Monday night's contest, he was deemed unlikely to play early in the week by coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he trusts Jackson with regard to his injuries noting, "He knows better than anybody how his body reacts." Given that Jackson has a bit of a history with soft tissue injuries but also works to keep himself at peak fitness, that trust in knowing when he can or can't push it is deserved. Jackson quickly removed himself from the game last week suggesting he was concerned about doing further damage and a Week 2 appearance seems unlikely. He has not practiced this week and it appears he won't.

Wide receivers

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: On Tuesday, we noted that Nicks was dealing with postgame swelling in his knee, but an MRI showed no major trauma. Nicks suffered a bone bruise but pointed out that he was injured in the first quarter yet remained in the game, which confirmed to him the injury was not particularly serious. Often, though, the swelling will come later, as it did for Nicks, leading to the follow-up testing. On Wednesday, Nicks did not practice, as expected, but told reporters that the swelling was beginning to subside and he thought he would be able to play Monday night. On Thursday, Nicks, who remained out of practice, told ESPN New York that the decision to play Monday will ultimately be his call. He indicated the swelling had gone down and it was just a matter of pain, which he described as "not too bad." He plans to go through some individual drills Friday and will evaluate how his knee responds. Nicks has proven his toughness before, so discomfort is not likely to keep him down. If the knee swells again, however, it makes it difficult to contract the muscles around the joint, making him not only potentially ineffective as a receiver but also at risk for further injury. If he does not play, Domenik Hixon (returning from 2010 ACL surgery) will likely start opposite Mario Manningham, so fantasy owners may want to get him as Monday night insurance.

More notes


• The Denver Broncos have two major offensive fantasy players on the injury radar. Both running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin) suffered injuries Monday night, both have undergone MRIs (the results of which have not been made public) and neither has practiced since. It is not looking optimistic for either player at this point, especially coming off a shortened week.

Calvin Johnson
Calvin Johnson has a very good matchup this week, as long as he's healthy enough to play.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who sprained his left ankle in Week 1, told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday, "Get the swelling out and I'll be ready." His non-participation in practice is likely aimed at doing exactly that, with the goal of having him available Sunday. Johnson has often been restricted or even held out of practice during past seasons in an effort to rest him for game days, so this is not unusual. Every time Johnson gets up in the air to make big plays, fantasy owners are simultaneously thrilled by the awesome catches and dreading the hard landings for fear of an injury. Somehow he manages to play through the majority of them and it appears he will again this week, barring an unexpected development.

• We can always count on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to update us on the status of his top players. On Wednesday, Jones told the Dallas Morning News that he expects wide receiver Dez Bryant (thigh contusion) to play Sunday, suggesting the rest will help him to get ready. Anyone watching the Sunday night game in Week 1 could see that Bryant was hampered. Given his extensive injury history, it would be helpful to see him doing something in practice before the Cowboys face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Friday will be important to gauge just how recovered Bryant appears.

• The New Orleans Saints know they will be without wide receiver Marques Colston for at least a month following surgery to repair a broken clavicle. But what about teammate Lance Moore, who suffered a groin injury in the preseason that sidelined him for the season opener against the Green Bay Packers? The extra time may have been just what the doctor ordered as Moore returned to limited workouts Wednesday. The last time Moore attempted practice he was out for several days -- and the first game -- as a result. This time he followed up Wednesday's practice with another (limited) practice Thursday. Not yet a lock to play Sunday, but certainly encouraging.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was able to make throws with his bruised right forearm Thursday and coach Marvin Lewis tells the Cincinnati Enquirer he expects Dalton to start Sunday. Dalton was having trouble gripping the ball and was using his left hand in Wednesday's practice. According to the Enquirer, Dalton handled short and medium throws Thursday and will test longer throws Friday. If the swelling has diminished to the point where he can grip and throw effectively, there is no reason for Dalton to be held out of Sunday's contest.

McFadden
Darren McFadden was dealing with a shoulder injury and missed Wednesday's practice but still seems on track to start Sunday.
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden was kept to a limited practice Wednesday because of a sore shoulder, much to the alarm of fantasy owners everywhere. McFadden certainly absorbed his share of contact Monday night and, given his injury history, there was legitimate concern. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, McFadden was back Thursday, however, and is a "full go" for Sunday.



Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber (calf) returned to limited practice Wednesday but then didn't practice Thursday. Not a good sign. Wide receiver Roy Williams (groin) hasn't practiced at all. More ominous sign. Looks like both could be on the sidelines in Week 2.

• Bad news: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice, despite returning to a limited practice Wednesday, is being called a "long shot" by coach Pete Carroll to play this week. During an appearance on ESPN 710 in Seattle, Carroll spoke about Rice's talent, which they have yet to really see unfold in a game because of his absence. Rice is dealing with a shoulder injury he sustained during training camp.

• Good news: San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert is not on the injury report.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 2 in the Saturday morning blog!