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Thursday, December 2, 2010
Ben Roethlisberger's foot injury; AP ailing

By Stephania Bell



This week's Thursday night matchup has the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Houston Texans.



Tight end Owen Daniels already has been ruled out for the Texans, meaning Joel Dreessen should get another start. Despite being listed on the injury report with a knee issue, Dreessen participated fully in practice Tuesday and Wednesday and is listed as probable. Quarterback Matt Schaub also is listed as probable because of his knee. He practiced fully each day and will start.

For the Eagles, one of the biggest health concerns is on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Asante Samuel has a sprained left medial collateral ligament that kept him out of Week 12, and he was limited in practice throughout this week. Signs are pointing toward him playing Thursday night despite being listed as questionable, although he might not be 100 percent. Samuel will be a game-time decision. Running back LeSean McCoy has been playing through a shoulder injury and, listed as probable, likely will do so again.

Here's who you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 13 showdowns:

Quarterbacks

Ben Roethlisberger
No matter the extent of the foot injury, it looks like Ben Roethlisberger will play this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger remains in a boot to protect his injured right foot. He has been limping around the Steelers' facilities since this past Sunday's game with what was originally called a sprained foot. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger's injury was actually a broken fifth metatarsal. The fifth metatarsal is the long bone in the outer forefoot that connects the fifth toe to the midfoot. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, however, that the Steelers are refuting accounts of a new fracture. Via a statement from team spokesman Dave Lockett, the Steelers maintain Roethlisberger aggravated scar tissue at the site of an old injury. Either way, Roethlisberger has pain in his right foot, but the absence of a new fracture could be significant in that it might affect the course of treatment.

In the immediate sense, Roethlisberger has taken steps toward playing in Week 13. He shed the boot only long enough to participate in a limited practice session Wednesday, but the term "limited" might be a bit misleading. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said, "I only missed probably 10-15 snaps," adding, "It hurts because it's my plant foot, my right foot." While Roethlisberger acknowledges the discomfort, he remains confident in his ability to be able to play Sunday night, especially after putting in another practice Thursday. The Post-Gazette notes that Roethlisberger also is wearing a reinforced shoe to accommodate the foot when on the field. The shoe provides support but also limits flexibility, which can help decrease the pain associated with excess motion. Adapting to how the foot feels along with the modified shoe is perhaps the biggest key, so seeing Roethlisberger on the field early in the week is a very encouraging sign.



Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans: Collins has been recovering from a calf strain, and with Vince Young on injured reserve, that has forced Rusty Smith into action. But this might be the week Collins returns to lead the offense. He was able to put in limited practice Wednesday followed by a full practice Thursday. In the absence of a setback, expect Collins to take the field Sunday.



Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Add another ailment for Favre. Now his neck has been added to the already-listed ankle and shoulder. Favre sat out Wednesday but returned to limited practice Thursday, and I think we all know by now that he is planning on playing Sunday.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: Not surprisingly, Peterson did not practice Wednesday as he rested his sprained ankle. On Thursday, Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Peterson continues to rest the ankle and receive treatment but plans to test the ankle Friday. According to Zulgad, Peterson indicates the swelling has subsided some and he does note improvement. "I know my body better than anyone else," Peterson said, adding, "If I can go, I'll definitely be going." That's a sight fantasy owners would like to see. It certainly sounds as if there's reason to be optimistic, but Friday practice will yield better clues.



Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert, San Diego Chargers: Mathews' return to the practice field is an encouraging signal he is nearing a return. He has missed the past two weeks while recovering from the setback to his high ankle sprain, originally suffered in Week 2.



Tolbert has filled in ably with Mathews down, but he suffered a hand injury of his own in Week 12. He did not practice Wednesday but, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, that was a precautionary measure. If both backs are available this week, there is going to be a sharing of the workload. Fantasy owners would like to have an idea in advance as to just how that workload will be divided, but unfortunately, that's not likely to happen.



If we go by recent past events, when Mathews was working his way back after the initial ankle injury, his time on the field was significantly limited. It's hard to imagine, particularly with the way Tolbert has performed, that Mathews would see the bulk of the carries right out of the gate, but there are new variables to consider. Tolbert has a hand injury, and although the specifics have not been revealed, there are always concerns about ballhandling when the hand, fingers or thumb are involved. Mathews, who had some rookie issues of his own along with the high ankle sprain, was guarded in terms of playing time after the injury. This might just be a scenario that plays out during the game, assuming both backs are available.



Brian Westbrook
It didn't take long for Brian Westbrook to land back on the injury list.
Brian Westbrook, San Francisco 49ers: On Tuesday, we noted Westbrook's strong performance when Frank Gore was lost to injury. We also noted Westbrook's well-chronicled injury history. Imagine the concern of many a Westbrook waiver-wire acquiring fantasy owner when he was held out of Wednesday practice because of an ankle. Not to worry ... much. Westbrook's ankle is one of the joints that needs to be protected from excessive pounding, so a day of rest following a Monday night game, especially knowing that his workload will remain elevated, is not a huge surprise. The 49ers have indicated they will control the amount of work Westbrook sees, as they don't want to risk running him into the ground too quickly. Fantasy owners hoping for another 23-touch game might be reaching a little high; Anthony Dixon probably will be balancing Westbrook more. Nonetheless, Westbrook has proved he is part of the 49ers' game plan for the remainder of the season, as long as he stays healthy.

Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins: Torain is still out with a hamstring strain and has not returned to practice as of yet. He has made some progress in that he is doing some running on the side, but he doesn't appear far enough along to return this week. Last week, Keiland Williams saw his playing time cut into by James Davis. The bottom line for fantasy owners is that it's hard to know whom to count on in Washington for the running game.

Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: Bush returned from his fibula fracture for the Saints' Thanksgiving Day game but was used in a limited role. A fumble during a punt return exposed the potential problems associated with extended downtime, but at least Bush's leg held up. Bush says he is feeling "great," according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and should see more work going forward. Teammate Thomas has returned to practice on a limited basis, the most encouraging progress in weeks, but still is likely another week or two away from returning.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins: Marshall has returned to limited practice for the Dolphins this week. He sat out Week 12 with a hamstring injury suffered during the previous game but has been able to do some work on back-to-back days. Hamstring injuries can be delicate for receivers and running backs, however, so until game time comes and Marshall is in the mix, there remains some uncertainty. Even if Marshall is on the field, the question first is whether he will be able to go full speed and then how his body is able to respond to that higher gear. Still a bit risky from a health perspective.

Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers: The above noted concern for Marshall is exactly what Floyd experienced when he first returned from a hamstring injury. Floyd tweaked his hamstring in his first game back from injury (Week 11), and while it did not appear to be a major setback, his role was limited in last week's game as a result. Floyd did not practice Wednesday but returned Thursday and is still considered in the mix for the matchup against the Oakland Raiders.

Tight Ends

Antonio Gates
Antonio Gates likely will be a regular on the injury report the rest of the season.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: It was great to see Gates back on the playing field but, as we noted Tuesday, he did not look fully recovered. Nor should we expect him to be at this point. The pain from the torn plantar fascia is not the type of thing to disappear suddenly. Apparently it was more painful for Gates to play than initially suspected.

Gates did not practice Wednesday in an effort to rest his foot and might not practice the entire week. At this point, he is no lock to play Sunday, but knowing Gates, he will give himself every opportunity to at least give it a shot. This might come down to another game-time decision.

Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders: Miller recently revealed that he, like his division counterpart Gates, tore his plantar fascia. This would explain why it has been so difficult for Miller to play effectively since the injury. His playing time has been limited by arch pain that increases as the game goes on. Last week, he added a contusion to his lower leg to his injury report.



A few days ago, it seemed as if Miller might be in danger of missing time again, but Wednesday he was spotted in practice, albeit on a limited basis. Interestingly, the Chargers host the Raiders this Sunday, and one of the top fantasy questions this week surrounds the two star tight ends who are dealing with similar injury concerns. Will they or won't they take the field? As both Gates and Miller know, their status at kickoff is only a part of the issue. Whether or not they can make it through the game is a far more challenging prospect and something Miller has not been able to do of late.

Other


• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice sat out Thursday, but this is likely precautionary to rest his surgical hip (Rice did not practice last Thursday, either). Percy Harvin was out with an illness, a term the team has used in the past when Harvin has had migraine episodes. It sounds like the headaches have surfaced again in what has become a routine of wait-and-see.

• Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt has returned to limited practice, but fantasy owners need not get overexcited just yet. Britt began some light running last week and had progressed enough to return to a very small amount of practice. But given the seriousness of his hamstring injury (remember, the Titans were relieved to discover his season was not over when he first was injured in Week 7), there is no reason to believe the Titans will rush him back into action, especially given the high likelihood of a setback. Fantasy owners should not expect him before Week 14.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams, who has an injured foot, did some running Wednesday but still has not returned to practice. This will be a situation to watch through the end of the week, as he could be another game-time decision.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday to rest his ankle. Sims-Walker was a surprise active in Week 12 after reporting his injury as a high ankle sprain. Although he appeared limited in that game, it's hard to imagine he sits this one out.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was a late addition to the injury report Thursday, listed as limited because of his back. While there is no indication yet that he will miss Sunday's game, what he does Friday will be telling.

• The Detroit Lions are placing kicker Jason Hanson (sprained knee) on injured reserve, which means Dave Rayner has the job going forward. The Lions also will have another quarterback this week. Drew Stanton has been practicing with the first team to get ready for Week 13 -- and probably longer -- as Shaun Hill is out with a broken finger on his throwing hand. That's two broken bones this season for Hill. Hope he's drinking some milk.

See you at Friday's injury chat at 3 p.m. ET. We'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 13 in the Saturday morning blog.