Stephania Bell: Andre Johnson

Colts-Texans injury preview

October, 9, 2014
10/09/14
11:05
AM ET
Arian FosterAP Photo/Brandon WadeArian Foster is dinged up heading into Week 6, a familiar condition for the Texans rusher.
This week's installment of "Thursday Night Football" has the Indianapolis Colts traveling to take on their division rival Houston Texans. The Colts don't have any fantasy-relevant injuries to update, but there are three players for Houston whom I've been keeping tabs on this week:

Andre Johnson, WR, ankle (Questionable): Johnson’s status is the only one in question for the Texans. All other players are listed as probable, with the exception of two defensive players who have already been ruled out (Jadeveon Clowney and Darryl Morris).

Johnson is trying to manage an ankle injury and thus far has been playing through it. In Week 5, Johnson was also listed as questionable but ended up active and had five catches on the day. Although he was listed as a non-participant for each practice day in this short week, the veteran is certainly capable of showing up for a game with limited preparation. In fact, as ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli reported, coach Bill O’Brien has acknowledged the veterans are able to provide more input into how much they are able to do during the week with an eye on game day.

Fantasy owners would be advised to verify Johnson’s status before kickoff, but it appears likely he will take the field.

Arian Foster, RB, hamstring; Alfred Blue, RB, knee (Probable): The probable tag indicates that the Texans plan on having both backs available Thursday night, but it’s worth noting that both are listed on the injury report. Thursday reports are sometimes deceptive, particularly as the season progresses, because so many players have bumps and bruises that will limit their practice time and require treatment, necessitating an appearance on the report. Their status coming into the game may not be in jeopardy, though.

That is seemingly the case for both Foster and Blue. Both were listed as non-participants in Monday’s practice, limited for Tuesday and full for Wednesday, but all practice reports were estimations, since the team conducted walk-throughs each of the three days, according to the official league report. This reflects the priority for teams playing Thursday night following a Sunday game: Allow the players enough recovery so they can perform up to par while minimizing injury risk on just four days' rest.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign of Foster’s relative health is his most recent performance: He racked up 157 yards and two scores on 23 carries in Week 5, his most productive of three high-yield games this season. He has played in four games total, but in Week 4 -- the game after he sat out a week to rest his hamstring -- Foster managed only six yards on eight attempts.

Meanwhile, Blue is healthy enough to be available, but he has primarily had a supporting role thus far. Expect both players to be ready to go Thursday night.
Alfred MorrisAP Photo/Rick OsentoskiThe future looks better for Alfred Morris and his injured ribs.

Here's a look at some of the key injuries that figure to impact fantasy owners as Week 6 approaches.

Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins (ribs): Our last glimpse of Morris on a game day saw him being escorted slowly off the field after a rib injury in Week 4. Fortunately for Morris and his team, the Week 5 bye allowed him more extensive down time to recover. X-rays were reportedly negative for any fracture and the healing involved was mostly to the soft tissue around the rib and chest area. Although Morris indicated from the outset that he did not believe the injury to be serious, the rib cage area is so sensitive to bruising that turning, twisting, raising one’s arms overhead, even simply breathing can become painful. Morris must have used his off time wisely because he returned this week to full practice. Although he’s moving well, it’s an entirely different matter to absorb contact from an opponent, which explains why players returning from rib injuries often sport extra padding. Morris will likely do the same but the important thing is that he appears to be in line to play against the Dallas Cowboys. With this game taking place Sunday night, the fewer question marks for fantasy owners, the better.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (concussion): So far this season Mathews has avoided the standard musculoskeletal injuries, other than a minor hamstring tweak, which showed up late in the week in practice (but didn’t stop Mathews from playing). This time it’s a concussion that has Mathews sidelined and if there is any injury a player is not going to push through -- nor should he -- it’s a head injury. Mathews suffered the injury last Sunday night and his activity is undoubtedly being guided by the team’s concussion protocol. He is not practicing as of yet and there is no indication as to whether he will be available by Monday night. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Greg Olsen, TE, Carolina Panthers (foot): Olsen put a little fear into fantasy owners when he was absent from practice with a foot injury and was spotted wearing a protective boot. Everyone can exhale now as Olsen returned to practice Thursday for a full session. Sometimes the placement of a boot is simply a means of offloading the foot and is not an indication of a severe injury. Obviously something was troubling his foot enough to get a day off from practice and be out of a normal shoe, but the fact he could do so much work Thursday is a good sign. If he’s able to follow it up on Friday that will be even better.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans (shin): Johnson has been dealing with a shin contusion since the Week 3 contest against the Baltimore Ravens. Each week his practice activity has been limited and each week he has managed to play, although his status has been uncertain until at least Friday afternoons. This week appears to be no different. As ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli reports, Johnson said that plan has worked well. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday this week, leading to coach Gary Kubiak again calling him a gametime decision. If Johnson gets through at least some level of practice Friday, it would hint at him suiting up again on Sunday.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (groin): Shorts has been managing through a groin issue intermittently dating back to the preseason but he has played in every game. Will that change in Week 6? This week Shorts was downgraded from a limited practice Wednesday to not practicing at all Thursday. Coach Gus Bradley made it clear though that it was a collective decision between him and the medical staff to rest Shorts, according to ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. "He's tough and he doesn't say much, but I know with that groin's tightness it was one of those things where I think it's lingering and I just felt like the best thing for him after talking with Mike [Ryan, trainer] and Mylo [strength and conditioning coordinator Tom Myslinski] was to completely hold him out of practice," Bradley said. "Let's let it settle down."

When players are dealing with chronic soft tissue injuries during the season, it’s not so much a goal of trying to get them fully healthy; when games are separated by a handful of days, there’s not enough time for that to happen. But the problem can improve and the objective is to enable the athlete to be functional enough to perform while minimizing the risk of the injury worsening. The Jaguars must know there will be a lot of passes thrown in this week’s matchup against Denver and they will need all receivers on deck. This is a late game Sunday but it appears the Jaguars plan on having Shorts available.
Ray RiceAP Photo/Patrick SemanskyAfter being knocked out of action in Week 2, Ray Rice appears on track to return.
With a few days of practices and other reports available, let's look at the NFL injury situations that are relevant in the fantasy football world.

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens (hip): Rice strained his left hip flexor two weeks ago, and the team held him out of the Week 3 game as a precaution, netting a start for Bernard Pierce. At the time, there was some discussion that Rice could miss multiple games with the injury, but coach John Harbaugh later said Rice had been very close to playing. It seems Harbaugh was being forthright, given that Rice has been in practice Wednesday and Thursday, albeit on a limited basis. It would make sense that the Ravens would control his work during the week with an eye toward ramping him up closer to Sunday. For his part, the Rutgers product said he expects to play against Buffalo.

As long as Rice does not suffer a setback before Sunday, it appears he has a good chance, although a decision may not be made before game time. Rice may be well enough to play yet not be at full strength, which could affect his power and endurance. There will be no way to tell just how well he can produce until he takes the field. This could translate to some shared work between Rice and Pierce. Given some of the Bills' vulnerability against the run, both players could benefit.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills (quadriceps): Speaking of the Bills, after an injury scare in Week 3, Spiller is doing his best to demonstrate through his practice efforts that he is ready to play Sunday. Spiller's injury -- originally labeled as affecting his knee then recategorized to his quad -- caused him to lose explosiveness and power in his leg, hence the reason he could not finish Sunday's game. A blow to the distal (furthest) portion of the quad could easily result in swelling, pain and inhibition of the muscle, making it difficult to generate strong muscle contraction, resulting in the feeling of a loss of power.

Spiller's leg must have responded well to early treatment for him to complete back-to-back days of full practice. He appears on track to play against Baltimore in Week 4, barring a setback. Teammate Fred Jackson has been seeing his share of work even with a healthy Spiller, and that pattern will likely continue this week.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans (shin): Johnson returned from a concussion in Week 2 to start in Week 3 but left that game early with a shin bruise. On Tuesday, the Texans indicated they hoped Johnson would progress enough to return in Week 4. As of Thursday, whether he can remains uncertain. Johnson did not practice Wednesday and returned to the field Thursday only for individual drills. Coach Gary Kubiak told reporters after practice that Johnson remains a game-time decision for Sunday. That's not particularly encouraging for the Texans, who will face a tough Seattle defense in what is one of the week's most intriguing matchups.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR (hamstring), and Rashard Mendenhall, RB (toe), Arizona Cardinals: Somebody is happy about Fitzgerald's recovering hamstring (besides his fantasy owners). ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss reports that Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis is excited about matching up against Fitzgerald this weekend. Revis, coming off an ACL reconstruction and undoubtedly improving weekly, will have a chance to test that knee against what should be a full-speed, full-go Fitzgerald. Heading into last week, Fitzgerald was just coming off the injury and it was unknown how he would hold up. Apparently he held up just fine, since he has practiced in full each day despite the rainy weather the Cardinals are enduring in Florida. (The team stayed on the East Coast during the week in advance of the game in Tampa.) Look for Fitzgerald to start Sunday.

Fitz's teammate Mendenhall was upgraded to full practice Thursday after a limited workout Wednesday. He is still being protected, to some degree, because of a toe injury. After playing last week, but in a lesser capacity (nine carries, one reception), Mendenhall is expected to play Sunday in an increased role, given the ramping up of his work in practice this week.

Roddy White (ankle) and Julio Jones (knee), WR, Atlanta Falcons: Both White and Jones continue to appear on the injury report, but there is no longer really any doubt as to whether they will play. The biggest question is when White will resume being a true wide receiver threat. Based on the practice reports, White appears to be following the same pattern as last week. He did not practice Wednesday, but returned for limited practice Thursday. The status quo pattern suggests there is little change from last week in terms of progress. Given that there is virtually no observation of White’s practice time, it's difficult to assess whether he is making any meaningful strides.

Meanwhile, Jones was limited both days, but he continues to play and be productive on Sundays.

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions (knee): Bush sat out Week 3 despite his indications during the week that he was optimistic about playing. This week, he has far more reason to be optimistic, as he has been on the practice field Wednesday and Thursday. He has been a full participant both days and described his knee as "feeling good." Bush reiterated to reporters that his game status is the result of a collective decision among himself, the medical staff and the coaches, adding that everyone has to feel "comfortable" with his readiness to play. If things continue to go well through Friday's practice, everyone should start to feel more comfortable about his availability Sunday.
Andre JohnsonDonald Miralle/Getty ImagesHouston has a great pair of wideouts, as long as Andre Johnson (No. 80) can stay on the field.
Here's a look at some key injuries in the fantasy football world that we'll be following ahead of Week 4 of the NFL season.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills (quad): Originally, Spiller's injury was reported as a "knee" issue, but Bills coach Doug Marrone told reporters on Monday that Spiller was dealing with a "quad" injury. Marrone also said of Spiller, "I believe he'll be fine." For his part, Spiller told reporters he wasn't exactly sure how the injury happened, but he knew there was a problem when he was limping. He wanted to try to return in the second half but said he "couldn't get power, explosiveness" off that leg. As he acknowledged, he did not want to put the team in jeopardy if he couldn't perform, and he also needed to protect himself, hence the decision to remain out for the rest of the game. Spiller says he is taking it day by day, and hopes to return Sunday. However, the first true test will come in practice this week.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans, (shin): After suffering a concussion in Week 2, Johnson progressed well enough through the week to play in Week 3. Unfortunately, he didn't last the entire game for the second week in a row after suffering a shin bruise in the second quarter. Initial X-rays taken at halftime were negative, and Johnson attempted a return in the second half. His inability to run normally was the deciding factor in his removal for the remainder of the contest. As ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli reported, the coaches spotted it right away, but even Johnson was forced to acknowledge he was not himself.

"I know when I went out there I couldn't play the way I am capable of playing," Johnson said, adding, "You see the film -- I'm limping around out there trying to play."

It's not surprising that Johnson's running was impaired. Any bruising or swelling in the leg area will inhibit the muscles that control the foot and ankle. On Monday, coach Gary Kubiak labeled Johnson as day-to-day, and the Texans are again hopeful that he will progress well through the week and be ready for Sunday.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ribs): Jackson could be seen on the sideline during the third quarter of Sunday's game sitting on the bench with his jersey elevated, a member of the medical staff gently poking and prodding the rib cage and abdominal area. That was our first clue that Jackson was likely dealing with a rib injury, something that was confirmed on Monday. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, a league source indicates the injury is not serious, but Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano said Monday he is unsure of Jackson's availability for Week 4. In the absence of a major injury, this will likely come down to how well Jackson will be able to function in the presence of pain, especially reaching and twisting. Even breathing hard can be painful with a rib injury, potentially making even straight-line running difficult. Expect Jackson to get rest early in the week, with a decision potentially being postponed until closer to game day.

Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys (hamstring): Austin has now hit the trifecta. This latest episode marks three consecutive seasons of dealing with some form of an injury to his hamstring, although this incident is not believed to be serious. It really is unfortunate, since both Austin and the Cowboys have tried various methods of training and practice regimens to help prevent this type of thing from happening. The fact it has happened anyway reminds us how difficult it is to completely prevent these injuries, especially in an individual who seems to be prone to them.

As far as this particular setback, Austin strained his left hamstring in the third quarter of Sunday's game, but as ESPN.com's Todd Archer reported, the Cowboys do not believe this injury is serious. Head coach Jason Garrett offered this assessment: "We don't think it's a severe hamstring injury, but we'll take his injury day to day and see how he progresses as the week goes on." Whether he returns this week or not, the confidence level in Austin's ability to avoid an exacerbation of a hamstring problem is perhaps at an all-time low.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders (concussion): Pryor suffered a concussion late in Monday night's game. As is the case with all players, Pryor will need to progress through a structured protocol before he can be eligible to return. It is worth considering that he has one fewer day to do so, given that his injury occurred on a Monday night. Fantasy owners should consider the possibility that he may be sidelined.

Expect Brady, Romo, Big Ben to play

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
6:36
PM ET


If you're still alive in your fantasy playoffs, your new year is getting off to a good start. With a full slate of games on New Year's Day, you have 32 teams that could help crown you champion. Or, you could have 32 teams that combine to sink your season by resting their star players, particularly those who are at less than 100 percent health (who is at 100 percent health at this stage anyway?), in advance of the real playoffs or because they have no hope for the playoffs. Whom can you count on? We are in search of that answer as the final games of the 2011 regular season approach. Here's what we're hearing midweek.

Quick Hits

Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: This is the biggest nonstory story of the week. Brady took a number of hits to his nonthrowing (left) shoulder last week, and Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England reported that Brady underwent X-rays to rule out a shoulder separation. Apparently there were no significant findings, and after sitting out practice Wednesday (noninjury related, according to the Patriots), Brady was at least present for the portion of practice open to the media Thursday, although how much activity he did is unclear. It sounds as if the team is understandably conserving his stamina for Sunday, when the Patriots are playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Brady has played through far worse, including, as many longtime fantasy players might remember, a sore throwing shoulder that had him on the injury report for record time. He will play Sunday, and while he perhaps would prefer not to take hard hits on his left shoulder, it should not affect his game.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger's high ankle sprain got an extra week of recovery when he sat out Week 16, and he now appears on track to play this Sunday. Roethlisberger was listed as a full participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and acknowledges that while he still has pain in the ankle, he is improving. Expect Roethlisberger to play Sunday, barring a setback. Whether he will play the entire game is impossible to predict at this stage, and it might ultimately depend on how his ankle responds that day.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesTony Romo sat out most of last week's game with a hand injury but appears to be in good shape for the season finale.
Tony Romo, QB, and Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Both players are on track to play Sunday night in the game against the New York Giants that will determine who lives to play another week. Jones benefited from the rest he got in Week 16 (he was removed from the game after just four carries) and has been practicing on a limited basis. Of course, the ultimate test for his hamstring will come in the demands of a full game, but his issue was only ever described as "tightness," never a true strain. Romo meanwhile has been working on getting the swelling down in his bruised right hand. The less swelling, the less there are any issues with functionality of the hand that would affect grip and, ultimately, ball control. Romo's presence in practice throughout the week indicates the team is fully expecting he will start.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Johnson has missed three games since suffering his second hamstring injury of the season and made it clear he wanted to get back into a regular-season game before heading into the playoffs. It appears he will get his wish, as Johnson has practiced this week and coach Gary Kubiak indicated he is in line to play Sunday. It appears the Texans do not plan to use Johnson the entire game, as Kubiak suggested they would aim for 15 to 20 plays. Who can blame them after the spate of severe injuries their key players have endured this season? So while they will support Johnson getting some in-game work, they are not likely to take excessive risk. The question for fantasy owners is whether a limited appearance from Johnson will translate to significant point production.

Roy Helu, RB, Washington Redskins: After being a pregame scratch in Week 16 because of a painful toe, Helu has returned to limited practice this week. He says he expects to play, but the combination of his being less than 100 percent and a nice performance last week by Evan Royster makes this week's outlook unclear.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants: Bradshaw has settled into a routine of not practicing early in the week but returning Friday and playing Sunday. It appears that could be the case again, and the Giants have everything to play for Sunday night.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: You probably are not in your fantasy championship if you were counting on McFadden to be back, since he now has gone 67 days without practicing. He is not headed to injured reserve, so there still is an opportunity if the Raiders make the playoffs. However, fantasy owners are left hoping for a full offseason recovery.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders: Ford now is back in practice on a limited basis. His participation on back-to-back days is encouraging, but it is not yet clear whether he will be in the lineup Sunday.

James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers: Starks did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, and his status for Sunday is looking grim. At this point, it's more important for the Packers to have him healthy for the playoffs, so do not plan on seeing him in Week 17.

[+] EnlargeMark Ingram
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireIt'll be hard for either the Saints or fantasy owners to rely on Mark Ingram down the stretch.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints: Uh-oh. Not good news here for the Saints. Ingram has missed the past three games with a turf toe injury but in the past week had appeared to be making some progress. Unfortunately, his return to light practice Wednesday resulted in a setback, one the New Orleans Times-Picayune suggests could keep him out of the playoffs. Wise fantasy owners probably already made the move to secure Chris Ivory, who is expected to play again this Sunday.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew had an ankle injury heading into last week's game and managed to play through it. He has not practiced yet this week, but there seems to be little doubt that this is just rest in advance of Sunday's game.

Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins: Bush has had a resurgence of his career in Miami and wants to finish the season strong. His absence from practice both Wednesday and Thursday is a bit worrisome, considering he downplayed last week's injury to his right knee. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Bush is walking without a limp, but a knee injury to a running back with a history of knee issues is still concerning. If Bush is not practicing Friday, fantasy owners should be making alternate plans.

Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, WRs, New York Giants: On Saturday, Nicks aggravated the hamstring he injured earlier this season, and it kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. He made it clear he plans to play, however. According to ESPN New York, Nicks said, "It is all or nothing. It is playoffs now." That's not to say he'll be completely past it. Nicks and teammate Manningham both present some risk in that neither is expected to be completely beyond his injuries by the time Sunday rolls around. Manningham's struggles with swelling in his knee have been ongoing, but he turned in some limited work Wednesday and Thursday. Coach Tom Coughlin seems encouraged that Manningham will be available for this critical matchup.

[+] EnlargeLeSean McCoy
Dale Zanine/US PresswireLeSean McCoy is the leading rusher in fantasy this season, but will he get to build on his stats?
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Finally, Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin are off the injury report, but McCoy gets added this week. McCoy hurt his ankle in Week 16 and was given Wednesday off. Eagles coach Andy Reid expressed optimism early in the week that McCoy would be fine, and his return to limited practice Thursday seemed to support that statement. McCoy is expected to play Sunday.

Kevin Smith, RB, and Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: Smith's ankle is still in recovery mode, but he has turned in full practices this week. As noted Tuesday, the Lions signed Joique Bell from the practice squad, so it is difficult to assess just how Sunday's lineup will shape up. Johnson is listed on the injury report with an Achilles injury and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. There has been no indication that there is anything major to be concerned about regarding his health but his status for Sunday is unclear. While the Lions have made it sound as if it will be business as usual, it's hard to imagine their starters not being removed early at the very least, as this game does not hold much value (they're playing to keep the 5-seed in the playoffs).

Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert, RBs, San Diego Chargers: Not what fantasy owners want to see -- both Chargers running backs returned to the injury report. Mathews, again listed with a calf injury, sat out Wednesday but was back to limited practice Thursday, suggesting he'll be available Sunday. Tolbert, however, was out both Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury, and his status is less certain.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 17 in the Saturday morning blog.

How long will Adrian Peterson be out?

December, 27, 2011
12/27/11
5:06
PM ET


Congratulations to all who took home the championship trophy in Week 16 and, frankly, to all who gutted out the season, regardless of how you ended up placing in your league(s). We appreciate those who play hard right up until the bitter end. Speaking of which, a number of fantasy leagues take their championship matches right through the bitter end, otherwise known as Week 17, seeking a challenge by playing in a week where teams may alter their rosters either because they have nothing to lose or everything to gain by fielding backups. If you're playing for glory this Sunday, then the injury news is of import, but be forewarned: The picture of who sits and who starts may be even cloudier with the playoffs looming next month.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
Geoff Burke/US PresswireAdrian Peterson is obviously out for the rest of 2011, but his 2012 future is also very hazy.
One player we already know will not be present on Sunday has been a staple in virtually every fantasy football league for several years running. Unfortunately, the most dramatic -- and devastating -- injury of Week 16 was the one suffered by Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who took a blow to his left knee that left him visibly in pain and on the ground. The video, difficult as it was to watch, showed Peterson's knee moving into an awkward combination of valgus (bowing inward) and rotation, finally coming to rest at an odd angle underneath the weight of his body. Even in the absence of any specific knowledge of anatomy, the visceral reaction viewers collectively experienced while watching a knee bend in ways that it shouldn't told us something had gone terribly wrong. Peterson officially has a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL) along with some damage to both the medial and lateral meniscus. He is expected to undergo reconstructive surgery in the next week to 10 days. The true extent of the damage within the joint may not be fully appreciated until that surgery takes place. For now, the Vikings remain hopeful that Peterson will be ready to contribute early next season, but understandably the timeline must remain fluid to allow for the many unpredictable variables that accompany this type of injury and subsequent rehabilitation.



Working in Peterson's favor are his youth (he is 26 years old with only five NFL seasons under his belt), his physical fitness and his work ethic. He has also shown resilience in responding to past injuries that were expected to either keep him down longer or potentially hint at future problems. While a junior in college at Oklahoma, Peterson broke his clavicle, which forced him to miss the last seven weeks of the season. He entered the NFL the following year with some concern about whether the collarbone would be a problem. It was not. In Peterson's first NFL season (2007), he did suffer a less common knee ligament sprain, a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury (incidentally, which was to his right knee). Not only was Peterson back on the field within three weeks, the knee healed well and did not prove to be a liability going forward. In fact, since that time, Peterson had missed only one game until suffering a left high ankle sprain just five weeks ago. Peterson returned in Week 15 after missing three games, but just one short week later, his world turned upside down with this latest injury.

Peterson will be challenged to return to form in 2012. There is no reason at this moment to believe he cannot be back to playing football next season. It is also reasonable, however, to allow for the possibility that it will take some time for him to show the explosiveness and aggressive style for which he is known. It's not just the physical recovery; there is the mental aspect of regaining confidence in a leg that has been severely damaged, believing it will hold up to the physical demands of the game, including, of course, the contact it will naturally be expected to absorb. Not only do the stats show that players typically perform better in the second year following reconstructive knee surgery, but athletes will often say it takes a year of playing on that leg until they get their "feel" back or until they believe they are playing like themselves again.



At this point, we simply wish Peterson well on his road to recovery and hope for positive updates along the way.

Quick hits


All the games for Week 17 will come your way Sunday, with the season ending that night with New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East title.



[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Brett Davis/US PresswireAndre Johnson wants to get some work in the regular-season finale to get him ready for the playoffs.
• There is a possibility, a probability even, that Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson will make an appearance Sunday. Johnson has missed three games while recovering from his second hamstring injury of the season and has made it clear he would like to see some regular-season action before entering the playoffs. Last Friday, following a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, coach Gary Kubiak told the Texans official website, "I'm hoping [Johnson] is back out there this week." Johnson did return to practice Monday and said, "We're just trying to see how this week goes, see if I can make it through the week, first of all, without any soreness or anything like that. ... I'll be doing a little rehab tomorrow and I'll go back at it on Wednesday." If Johnson has a good week of practice, expect him to see some time Sunday. How much time that will be is unclear, but hopefully we'll get a better hint later in the week.

• Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones was removed from Saturday's game as soon as the announcement came that the New York Giants had won (rendering the Cowboys' game essentially meaningless). The good news for Jones is that his hamstring held up for the four carries he managed, but the rest he got afterward probably served him better. Expect Jones to be ready to go this weekend.

• The bigger question for the Cowboys this week might be the status of quarterback Tony Romo, who hit his right (throwing) hand against Jason Babin's helmet Saturday, causing the hand to swell to roughly twice its normal size. Fortunately, tests were negative for any fracture and, presuming the swelling resolves enough to allow Romo to function effectively, he will indeed play Sunday night. Coach Jason Garrett, a former quarterback who innately understands the physical demands of the position, captured the issue perfectly when he spoke to reporters Monday. "I don't think it's that complicated," Garrett said. "Can you take a snap? Can you grip the ball? Can you throw it? What's the ball look like when you throw it? Can you hand off? Quarterbacks that have had injuries in the past, and really, it's a functional type thing. ... How accurate is he when he's throwing it? Does everything have to be perfect for him to throw it well? Because, as you know, that position is a spontaneous one and he's certainly a spontaneous quarterback. So we'll evaluate all those things as the week goes on." And that pretty well sums it up.

• It is unclear whether the Pittsburgh Steelers will have Ben Roethlisberger under center Sunday or whether there will be another Charlie Batch sighting. Roethlisberger sat out Week 16 to rest his left ankle following a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 14. Roethlisberger played the Monday night game in Week 15 but struggled to step into his throws and was clearly limited in his mobility. There won't be any clues as to a decision until the Steelers can evaluate what Roethlisberger can do in practice.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore was questionable coming into Monday night's game because of a sore hamstring injured late last week in practice. He did end up playing but didn't last through the first half, as the injury forced him out in the second quarter. It remains to be seen whether he will be well enough to play Sunday.

[+] EnlargeMcCoy
Debby Wong/US PresswireLeSean McCoy is the leading fantasy scorer among running backs this year, but will he be around in Week 17 to secure that honor?
• The Philadelphia Eagles saw LeSean McCoy leave Saturday's game for a period of time with an ankle injury. McCoy was able to return after X-rays were negative, but there seemed to be some discrepancy between McCoy's opinion as to whether he'd be available this week and coach Andy Reid's thought on the matter. For now, we'll go with Reid's interpretation, which is that McCoy has a "slight" ankle sprain and should be available Sunday.

Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith played Saturday and posted decent fantasy numbers, but at times looked to be struggling with his right ankle. The Lions signed running back Joique Bell on Monday, which certainly gives pause as to Smith's availability for this week. With the playoffs looming, it would seem the Lions would not want to risk Smith's health for when it is most needed. Fantasy owners may want to avail themselves of other options.

Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush injured his right leg late in Saturday's game, but the non-specific injury appears mild. As Bush told the Palm Beach Post, "I don't think it's serious. I mean, I'm walking." Good point. So far, there's no indication Bush will be forced to miss this week's game. Meanwhile teammate Anthony Fasano missed Week 16 due to a concussion. He will need to be medically cleared to return to practice before his game status can be evaluated.

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks suffered yet another setback with his injured right ankle. It's tough to imagine him playing this week when the Packers' biggest goal might be trying to maximize the health of their team going into the playoffs.



• And finally, if you were holding out any hope for the return of either Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler or running back Matt Forte, you can now let it go. The Bears officially ended their seasons Tuesday, and they can focus on getting healthy for next year.


For those playing in their fantasy football championships, there aren't too many injury dilemmas heading into Thursday night's game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans. In fact, Texans coach Gary Kubiak made it a little easier by ruling out wide receiver Andre Johnson in advance of the game.

Johnson has continued to make progress with his injured hamstring but, as noted Tuesday, the team has already secured a playoff berth and is understandably inclined to protect its key player for the postseason. According to the Texans' website, Johnson has indicated he would like to play again before the end of the regular season, an understandable wish as athletes often get the best measuring stick of their progress by participating in a game. "I would like to play, at least play before we get into the playoffs," said Johnson, adding, "[I'm] feeling real good." He should get his chance to find out just how healthy his legs feel in Week 17.

One Texans player whose status has yet been decided is tight end Owen Daniels. Daniels is listed as questionable with a sore knee, and the determination as to whether he plays or not will come down to game time. He participated in a limited practice Wednesday after sitting out Tuesday, improving his chances of playing, but the team will make its final assessment before kickoff. Fellow tight end Joel Dreessen is also on the injury report with a sore knee and wrist, but he is listed as probable.

The Colts are again expected to be without top tight end Dallas Clark as he continues to recover from a neck injury sustained in Week 14. Clark has not practiced all week and is listed as doubtful, making it all but certain he will sit this one out as well. Jacob Tamme would start again in his place.

Given the altered NFL schedule this week with most games happening Saturday, the big end-of-week injury blog for Week 16 will appear here Friday after final league injury reports are posted.

There will still be a Friday morning chat at 11 a.m., so hope to see you there!

Status of Green, McGahee uncertain

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
5:02
PM ET


Week 15 is in the books, and if you're still alive in your fantasy league, then it is a happy holiday season indeed. Everything right side up was upside down Sunday as there was an abundance of upsets around the NFL. Who should you be concerned about heading into Week 16?

Quick hits:


• For Thursday night's game, the Houston Texans will once again be without the services of wide receiver Andre Johnson. This does not come as a huge surprise, but coach Gary Kubiak maintains Johnson is very close to a return. The Texans have sustained so many significant injuries this season, it's understandable that they would be reluctant to be anything but conservative in managing their star offensive weapon in advance of the playoffs. Still, between Johnson stating he would like to see some regular-season game action and Kubiak talking about Johnson's near readiness to return, it appears there is a solid chance he is back in Week 17. That is, if you're still playing.



• Also in Houston, tight end Owen Daniels will be a game-time decision Thursday night, according to Kubiak. Daniels took a helmet to the knee in Sunday's game and was still experiencing soreness that kept him out of practice Tuesday.



Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones was held out of Tuesday practice with a tight hamstring. Naturally that raises some concern, given the recent loss of DeMarco Murray to injury. According to Bryan Broaddus of ESPNDallas, head coach Jason Garrett says he expects to have Jones back in practice Wednesday. It sounds like it was a proactive measure to rest him for a day in the hope it doesn't turn into something more.

[+] EnlargeAJ Green
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesAJ Green left last Sunday's game with a shoulder injury but later returned.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green suffered a third-degree shoulder separation in Sunday's contest, but came back and finished the game! It certainly couldn't have felt good, and Green was wearing a sling to support his arm afterward, but the impressive rookie has already said he will be back this week. Green suffered a similar injury to his opposite shoulder in college and since the Cincinnati Enquirer reports it is a Grade 3 (complete) tear of the acromioclavicular ligaments that connect the clavicle (collarbone) and the acromion (tip of the shoulder blade), it doesn't present a huge risk. Unlike throwers who often choose to have these injuries surgically repaired (Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford comes to mind), non-throwers can often function just fine without surgery. One of the primary issues will be discomfort and whether Green can elevate his arm enough to be effective. As if to answer that question, Green told reporters on a conference call that he was catching passes Tuesday, although he did not formally practice. It's worth watching to see if there are any signs of change during the week, but right now Green appears to be on track.

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson sprained an ankle late in Sunday's game, but no one in Tennessee seems to be particularly concerned about his status. In fact, head coach Mike Munchak was clear about Johnson's availability according to the Tennessean. "He'll be questionable this week, but we saw him [Monday] and we don't think there's any reason he'll be out for the game," Munchak said. Fantasy owners would like him to not only play this week, but also play better.

• There was some question as to just how much Willis McGahee's hamstring was bothering him Sunday and whether that played a role in him spending a lot of time on the sideline. McGahee returned to limited practice Tuesday, making it look as if he will be ready to go on Saturday.



Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson aggravated the groin injury that has nagged at him for a good portion of the season. Johnson did not practice Tuesday, but the Buffalo News reports he is expected to play in Week 16. Johnson has played fairly effectively despite the injury throughout the season, so it comes as little surprise he plans to press forward.

Good news for Peterson; Big Ben murky

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
5:58
PM ET


The only players fantasy owners are wondering about heading into the Thursday night game are Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Michael Turner. Jones, who has strained both hamstrings this season, put on a nice display Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Limited practice for Jones on a short week did not likely come as a surprise to most, but seeing the word "back" next to his name on the injury report may have. While the Falcons have not said much about Jones with regards to this back ailment, it's not uncommon to have low back and hamstring issues simultaneously. The large sciatic nerve in the back of the thigh is formed from nerve roots in the lumbar (low back) region (which is why herniated disks in the back often result in leg pain when the sciatic nerve is affected). That is not to suggest by any stretch that is the case here, only that it is not unusual to have overlapping back and hamstring conditions. There is no reason to expect any limitations with Jones, but until he survives the remainder of the season incident-free, it's only natural to be a little nervous. Meanwhile Turner has also been on the injury report for several weeks because of his groin but has managed to play nonetheless. He is expected to do so again Thursday night.

Quick Hits

Not Practicing Thursday

Ben Roethlisberger
Jason Bridge/US PresswireIt appears fantasy owners may have to wait until Monday night to figure out whether to use Ben Roethlisberger in their lineups.
Here is a list of players who are worth monitoring based on the fact that they are not practicing as of Thursday afternoon:

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger's high ankle sprain sustained a week ago is no secret, but his status for Monday night remains murky. Roethlisberger is in a walking boot and may not practice at all before Monday's game. If anyone has defied all medical logic when it comes to returning from injury, it's Roethlisberger, but this one could prove to be a huge challenge. Roethlisberger need only look at Sam Bradford's struggles over a month removed from a similar injury. (Bradford now says he feels like he's "going backwards") Bradford had difficulty stepping into his throws and was clearly hampered with his mobility in Monday night's game. If Roethlisberger is similarly limited, is it worth playing him and risking a setback besides? That will be the question the Steelers will be considering as Monday approaches. This could come down to a game-time decision.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Despite the fact the Texans are referring to Johnson as day-to-day with his latest hamstring injury, all the signals out of Texas suggest he will not return to action this week. Johnson has resumed some running but is not practicing with the team. After he sustained his second hamstring injury of the season (and with the Texans having earned a playoff berth), the team is bound to exercise caution.



[+] EnlargeGiants' Ahmad Bradshaw
Jim O'Connor/US PRESSWIREAhmad Bradshaw is still slowed down a bit but still looks like he will play this weekend.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants: Last week Bradshaw did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but still suited up for Sunday. Of course, fantasy owners weren't expecting him to be benched for the first half of the game for violating team rules, but one has to imagine that won't happen twice in a row. Bradshaw should return to some form of practice Friday and play on Sunday against the Washington Redskins.



Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: We summed up the latest discourse regarding <a href="http://espn.go.com/fantasy/blog/_/name/bell_stephania/id/7350107/demarco-murray-greg-jennings-likely-done-year-ben-roethlisberger-darren-mcfadden-iffy-return"McFadden's midfoot injury Tuesday and nothing has really changed. He is not practicing and there is no timetable on his return. It's worth noting that Taiwan Jones also remains out with a hamstring injury. The Raiders have to be crossing their fingers on Michael Bush staying healthy.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders: Like his running back brethren, Ford has not yet returned to practice as he recovers from a foot injury.

James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers: Starks attempted to work out Tuesday but according to the Green Bay Post-Gazette, his ankle did not respond well. Starks did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and is not looking likely to play Sunday. Brandon Saine remains out of practice as well following a concussion sustained in Week 14. Ryan Grant is likely to get the bulk of the work.



Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints: Ingram's turf toe kept him out of last week's game and he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. At this point, it appears Chris Ivory will make another appearance for the Saints alongside Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles.

Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee Titans: Washington was clearly in pain near the end of Sunday's game but he fought through it to deliver some nice playoff points for fantasy owners. Washington had been dealing with a sprained ankle, which kept him out of practice the entire week. According to the Titans' website, Washington had back spasms to go along with his balky ankle. It shouldn't come as any surprise then that Washington has not yet practiced to allow him some recovery time. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported Washington is expected to return to practice Friday. If Washington does play, it looks as if he might have Matt Hasselbeck to throw him the ball. Hasselbeck, who left last Sunday's game early after feeling a "pop" in his calf, returned to limited practice Thursday and the team is encouraged.

Practicing Thursday:

Here is a list of several key fantasy players who were back in the mix by Thursday.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
AP Photo/Andy KingAdrian Peterson has missed three games so far with an ankle injury but may finally return in time for the fantasy playoffs.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Peterson seems to have turned a corner with regards to his ankle health. He has been in practice both Wednesday and Thursday and, according to Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave noted Peterson was cutting better, even answering in the affirmative when asked if he was confident Peterson would play. Last week, Peterson had initiated running but still exhibited a limp and struggled with cutting maneuvers. The Vikings wisely gave him an additional week off (he has now missed three games) and it appears the time has helped. Barring a setback, Peterson looks to be making his return in Week 15.

Michael Vick, QB, and Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Vick returned to action in Week 14, but his ribs are still sore. Since he is still on the mend, the Eagles did not have him practice Wednesday, but he returned to a full workout Thursday. The good news is the Eagles expect him to start; the not-so-good news is that the Eagles face the New York Jets this weekend. The Jets will have to account for Jeremy Maclin at the receiver position, as he is also expected to play despite not being able to finish last week's game. Maclin, who had missed the previous three games with both a hamstring strain and a shoulder separation, had only one catch in the game and was clearly at less than full strength. Maclin had a limited practice Wednesday followed by a full practice Thursday. As long as there are no setbacks between now and Sunday, Maclin will play. The big question for fantasy owners is whether he can deliver a full 60 minutes or whether the hamstring will act up again.

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions: Smith made an early exit from the Week 13 game after aggravating his high ankle sprain and was not able to make it back for last Sunday's contest. This week, Smith has taken an encouraging step in returning to practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis. If all continues well, the Lions plan to have him on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how the workload shapes up since Smith will still not likely be at full health.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: Graham fought through back spasms last Sunday but still managed to be productive. More importantly, Graham returned to full practice Wednesday and has all but assured his fantasy owners that he will be back in Week 15.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 15 in the Saturday morning blog!



If you're fortunate enough to be left standing in your fantasy league after another injury-filled Sunday, you may be limping your way into the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Brett Davis/US PresswireThis is not a sight fantasy owners wanted to see from Andre Johnson again.
Exhibit A: One of my fantasy teams finally had its original ensemble back together ... for a week. Then Sunday came, and two of the players who had helped successfully launch my fantasy season were injured again. Running back Peyton Hillis and wide receiver Andre Johnson left their respective games with injuries. While neither was an aggravation of their original ailments, they do seem to be somehow connected, if only by the running theme of steady misfortune. Hillis turned in a decent performance, providing both rushing and receiving yards, but was absent late in the game. Hillis was seen lying on the treatment table, appearing to have his leg worked on by members of the Cleveland Browns' medical staff. On Monday, the Browns indicated Hillis had a "left hip strain" and was considered day-to-day. The diagnosis is vague, making it difficult to interpret just how serious this is, but with Hillis just coming off an extended injury absence, there has to be concern. The Browns play on Thursday night, casting further doubt on Hillis' availability.

As for Johnson, he was due for a big game with newly anointed quarterback T.J. Yates (filling in for the injured Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, both now on injured reserve) looking to get the ball to the All-Pro receiver. Johnson was actually converging on 100 yards receiving when a familiar -- and scary -- sight unfolded. In the third quarter, Johnson pulled up while running a deep route, then went to the ground in pain. Eventually he hopped off the field, keeping his left foot in the air, and he was tended to on the sideline. As it turns out, the injury was to his other (nonsurgical) leg, which is a relief from the standpoint that there is no setback to the right side. On the other hand, Johnson has joined the ranks of fellow wide receivers Julio Jones and Miles Austin in suffering bilateral hamstring injuries within the same season. The Houston Chronicle reports the Texans believe that this latest injury to Johnson is far less severe than the previous one. Coach Gary Kubiak is calling Johnson day-to-day, but the sense is he will be out for at least Week 14.

Despite the aforementioned injury catastrophes, my team will indeed limp into the playoffs and hope to benefit from waiver-wire pickups suggested by my colleagues at ESPN.com. Hopefully you will do the same.

And then this happened ...

[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhThere's still some hope that Matt Forte could return by the end of the regular season.
• As significant as the injuries to the two above players seemed at the time, at least in my world, there was perhaps no more devastating and surprising blow than the one dealt to the Chicago Bears when running back Matt Forte hurt his knee. Forte was upended by a tackle, which at first glance appeared to deliver the most force to his left knee area. It was Forte's right knee, however, that sustained the injury, a Grade 2 MCL (medial collateral ligament) sprain. The MCL reinforces the inner aspect of the knee joint, and an injury here particularly compromises lateral mobility, making cutting and directional changes difficult.



Not all Grade 2, or moderate, sprains are equal and can represent a range of damage (from roughly 30 percent to 70 percent tearing of the ligament), hence the variability of the timetable. The more damage, the greater instability results at the knee and the longer it takes to heal. Presuming all other structures remain intact (and the confirmation after Forte's MRI was that the ACL was not torn), an isolated tear of the MCL presents a better prognosis than a more complex tear involving other ligaments, the meniscus or the fibrous tissue of the joint capsule itself. Forte could miss as little as two weeks or upward of a month. It's worth noting that Forte suffered a mild MCL sprain in his left knee in 2009 and played through the injury but struggled on the field. The Bears are optimistic that Forte will return before the regular season is over, but his progress over the next week to 10 days will give better clues.

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks was on the injury report heading into Week 13. Starks was injured in Week 11 with sprains to his right knee and ankle. Despite the short week heading into the Thanksgiving Day game, Starks was able to suit up and managed to get through the game, albeit with a sore ankle. After a 10-day respite between games, it appeared Starks was in better shape when the Packers traveled to play the New York Giants. But it was not meant to be. Starks was injured in the second quarter and did not return. After three straight weeks of problems with the ankle, it stands to reason that Starks will have to scale his activity back. Consider him highly questionable for Week 14.

Quick hits

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Jeffrey G. Pittenger/US PresswireMichael Vick has missed three games since injuring his ribs against the Cardinals last month.
• The Philadelphia Eagles see signs of hope that quarterback Michael Vick will return in Week 14. Vick resumed throwing Monday and told reporters he expects to play Sunday. He has not fully recovered from the two broken ribs he sustained in Week 10, as the bones are still healing, but the key to his return is whether he can be effective enough both throwing the ball and running with it. If Vick can practice every day this week and gradually ramp up his activity, it's conceivable he could rejoin his team this weekend.



• Teammate Jeremy Maclin would like to be on the field with Vick and says he hopes to return to practice this week. Maclin, who is dealing with a shoulder sprain and a strained hamstring, suffered a setback with the hamstring the last time he tried to practice. According to the Eagles' website, Maclin said the hamstring is the limiting factor. "There's ways around the shoulder," Maclin said. "We just have to make sure the hamstring's right." Wednesday will be a big day at the Eagles' practice facility.

• The Minnesota Vikings would like to have Adrian Peterson on the field in Week 14, but we've heard optimism early in the week before, only to find out late in the week it was premature. Peterson did make some progress last week, doing some light jogging and increasing his overall activity. His ankle was not ready for agility and cutting maneuvers, however, and Peterson was not yet able to practice. While coach Leslie Frazier called Peterson "very close" to returning, Peterson's activity this week will go a lot further in convincing us one way or the other.

• The Detroit Lions thought Kevin Smith had made enough progress in 10 days after his ankle injury to return him to the field. Unfortunately, it took only two-plus quarters of football to find out otherwise. Smith aggravated his ankle injury Sunday night when he went down without contact (never a good sign) and was struggling with his mobility prior to that moment. It appears unlikely that he would be ready to test it again by Sunday.

• Things are not looking good for running back Darren McFadden. Despite all the positive-speak initially from coach Hue Jackson, his latest remarks have a different tone, suggesting progress is not being made as expected. McFadden has already missed more than a month because of a midfoot sprain, and his absence is expected to continue.



Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times reported that Jackson does not expect McFadden to miss the rest of the season. Well, neither did we. In fact, it had not been a real thought until Jackson introduced it as a possibility. Jackson also noted that there was no timetable for McFadden's return. Those two comments cause concern as to what the real status of McFadden and his foot is going forward. After the initial MRI, Jackson said there was no major structural damage and hinted at a speedy recovery. While the structure of the midfoot is complex, and pain or inflammation in the area, even in the absence of major disruption to the anatomy, can be severely limiting, the slow progress of McFadden after such early optimism is frustrating. At this point it is difficult to have confidence in McFadden's status, especially as long as he is absent from the practice field.

Schaub, Cassel likely done for season

November, 15, 2011
11/15/11
3:06
PM ET


What key fantasy player on the Houston Texans hasn't missed time due to injury this year? A few days ago the best answer might have been Matt Schaub, but not any longer. To make matters worse, Schaub's injury appears as if it will be season-ending. Schaub suffered a Lisfranc injury to his midfoot and is being evaluated by specialists this week to determine the course of treatment, which may include surgery.

[+] EnlargeMatt Schaub
Margaret Bowles/AP PhotoMatt Schaub was 11-for-15 for 242 yards and two TDs against the Bucs in what might be his last game of the season.
According to the Houston Chronicle, coach Gary Kubiak indicated Schaub's injury happened during a quarterback sneak. "Somebody fell on the back of his foot, and his foot got caught in the pile," Kubiak said. A force placed on the heel while the athlete's forefoot is fixed firmly on the ground (picture a push-off position with the heel in the air at the time the load is sustained) is the most common mechanism for this type of injury in football. It is often difficult for the athlete to continue to play, and in the most serious situations, it is virtually impossible to bear weight. The surprise with Schaub, who managed to play the majority of the game in spite of the second-quarter injury, came Monday when the team discovered just how significant the injury was. According to the Chronicle, the Texans were "stunned" by the news.

Other noteworthy players have suffered Lisfranc injuries -- some severe enough to require surgery -- and have returned to play, although in some cases not to their prior level of play. Running backs Ronnie Brown (injured while a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2009) and Kevin Jones (injured while with the Detroit Lions in 2006) went through lengthy rehabilitation efforts, as did Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, who was injured in 2007. Although the term "Lisfranc" is more easily recognizable now that several prominent athletes have suffered the injury, what it describes remains a mystery to most. Many have asked on Twitter "What exactly is a Lisfranc?" to which the only response is that the answer deserves more than 140 characters. To help explain the complexity of the injury, along with the origin of its unique name, I returned to an entry I wrote in 2007 when Freeney was recovering from his surgery:

So what is this thing they call a Lisfranc injury? There is a region in the middle of the foot where the long bones of the forefoot (metatarsals) articulate with the small tarsal bones in the middle of the foot. This joint is thus called the tarsometatarsal joint. It is also referred to as the Lisfranc joint.

Why? Frenchman Jacques Lisfranc, a field surgeon in Napoleon's army, described an amputation technique through this region to address forefoot gangrene following frostbite. There is also the story that soldiers wounded in battle would fall from their horses, but a foot would often remain caught in the stirrup, right at that tarsometatarsal joint. Such an injury often resulted in amputation of part of the foot, from the injured joint forward. In fact, amputation to that region still bears the same name (although NFL players, thankfully, don't need part of their foot amputated when they suffer Lisfranc injuries).

Since NFL players aren't riding horses, how does this injury happen to them? There are several mechanisms for this type of injury, but in sports, especially football, the primary scenario is that the player is running forward, with his weight on the ball of his foot, and he gets hit or stepped on from behind against his heel. The resultant force through the portion of the foot in between the ball and the heel (midfoot) causes it to buckle, and the midfoot is injured.

Are all Lisfranc injuries the same? No. In fact, the name Lisfranc refers to the region of the foot, not necessarily the severity of the injury. By virtue of its important location (the midfoot essentially forms the arch), any injury to this region needs to be taken seriously. That said, not all Lisfranc injuries are created equal. When the midfoot buckles, the ligaments that connect the various bones can become damaged. Ligament injury without any bony impact would be the mildest version of a Lisfranc injury. The problem is that damage to the ligaments can affect the relative position of the bones in the area, and they can shift or dislocate, which is often accompanied by a fracture. Now it's getting more serious. In the worst-case scenario, an artery passing over that area can also be damaged, affecting blood supply to the foot. A shift of the bony alignment typically requires surgery to realign the joint and provide stability. Failure to do so can result in chronic instability and pain, eventually leading to major arthritis in the area. Even with surgery, it appears that people who have suffered a significant Lisfranc injury are more at risk for arthritis down the road, simply because of the trauma to the joint.

The bottom line is that players who suffer these injuries must have their treatment managed carefully, not only with surgery, but in the postsurgical rehabilitation process as well.

Apparently it was a bad week to be a quarterback named Matt when it came to injuries. Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller Matt Cassel suffered an injury to his right (throwing) hand near the end of Sunday's game that coach Todd Haley said was "significant and could end his season." According to the Kansas City Star, Haley said Cassel's injury will require surgery, although specific details as to the structures involved were not provided. Looks like it will be Tyler Palko facing the New England Patriots next Monday night. Nothing like jumping in under the bright lights.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Howard Smith/US PresswireMichael Vick's status for this week is up in the air after he suffered broken ribs last Sunday.
Maybe it was just a bad week to be a quarterback whose name starts with the letter M. It only took two plays into Sunday's game for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to suffer another injury, this time two broken ribs. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, coach Andy Reid says Vick broke his two lower ribs but the severity of his injury was not immediately obvious. As to whether Vick will be available this Sunday, Reid was uncertain. "We'll see. I'll see in the next little bit. He's a tough nut." Maybe. But his ability to throw effectively may be compromised by the injury (which perhaps we saw on Sunday). His status should become clearer later in the week.

And then there were several more season-ending injuries, including two to offensive players who may be on your fantasy roster. Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno tore his right ACL, effectively ending a season that had already been limited by hamstring injuries. Teammate Willis McGahee came out of the same game with a left hamstring strain, but the Denver Post reports he has been cleared to return to practice Tuesday. If McGahee has a solid practice, he could start Thursday night. Meanwhile, Washington Redskins rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson's season came to an abrupt end when he injured his hip in the fourth quarter, leaving the stadium afterward on crutches. According to the Washington Post, Hankerson suffered a torn labrum. Fortunately for him, youth is on his side and he should make a full recovery.

Quick Hits


• The New York Jets will return to action Thursday night to face the Denver Broncos, just four days after their difficult showing against the New England Patriots. We know the Broncos will be without Knowshon Moreno, but will the Jets also be down a running back? It certainly appears that will be the case, as LaDainian Tomlinson suffered a sprained MCL in Sunday's contest. While the MRI reportedly showed no major damage, four days' rest is a very brief recovery period. Tomlinson was not practicing with the team Tuesday, generally the biggest practice day before a Thursday night game. Fantasy owners who were hoping for a flex play from Tomlinson are advised to look elsewhere.

• Uh-oh. Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune is reporting that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a broken right thumb. However, the Steelers are on a bye this week, and according to Brown, Roethlisberger says he will play in Week 12. But it's best to keep an eye on practice reports heading into that week.

• Now that Matt Schaub is out, quarterback Matt Leinart will take over under center when the Houston Texans return to action in Week 12. All indications are that wide receiver Andre Johnson will be there to help him out. Coach Gary Kubiak said he expects Johnson to participate in practice in advance of the next game, although he acknowledged nothing is set in stone.

[+] EnlargeTBD
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesJeremy Maclin was supposed to pick up the slack for the deactivated DeSean Jackson on Sunday, but instead he left the game twice with injuries.
• Even if Michael Vick does return to action for the Eagles on Sunday, he could very well be without receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin suffered not one but two injuries Sunday, a sprained AC joint (commonly referred to as a separated shoulder) and a hamstring injury. Maclin suffered the shoulder injury in the first half but returned to the game, then exited for good in the fourth quarter after straining his hamstring. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported following Sunday's game that Maclin was moving "very slowly and with a limp." On Monday, coach Andy Reid said the shoulder injury was the more serious of the two. Either injury on its own could be enough to limit Maclin. We will see whether he is able to return to practice this week.

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore returned from a left ankle sprain to play in Sunday's game but delivered no fantasy points. It wasn't even his ankle that was the issue. Gore took a hard fall on his knee but emerged with only a bruise, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. However, running backs coach Tom Rathman did not want Gore to return to the field and risk further injury. Gore has indicated he does not expect to miss any playing time, and Maiocco says Gore was walking without a limp Monday, another encouraging sign. The San Francisco Chronicle is echoing the sentiment, reporting coach Jim Harbaugh expects Gore to play. Harbaugh also expressed confidence in "the stable of backs" the 49ers have available, which could hint at a timeshare. The Niners will have a Thursday night game following this Sunday's contest, so spreading the workload around could be a strategy.



• The Detroit Lions do not expect to have running back Jahvid Best this week. Perhaps the most telling quote from coach Jim Schwartz when asked about Best was, "We're status quo with that." According to the Detroit Free Press, Schwartz added, "When we get clearance from the doctors, we'll get him back. But he needs to be symptom-free before we get clearance from the doctors." The inference there is that Best is not yet symptom-free, and as is typical with these injuries, there remains no timeline.



[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastLions QB Matthew Stafford shouldn't expect to see a lot of blitzes from the 49ers on Sunday.
Teammate Calvin Johnson was evaluated for a concussion following a big hit in Sunday's contest but passed his tests, according to Dave Birkett of the Free Press. Johnson says he will play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is also expected to play, despite a fractured index finger on his throwing hand. Stafford entered the game with the injury, which went under the radar with the Lions on bye in Week 9, but it became a topic of conversation after Stafford's less than, well, Stafford-like performance. The Free Press reports that Stafford blames the gusty winds for affecting his play more than the finger. Hmmm. It's difficult to imagine between the tape on his finger and a glove over the tape that there was zero effect from the injury, but Stafford has never made excuses based on his health as long as he could physically take the field. We'll see. This week the Lions play at home, in a dome. No wind there.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones left Sunday's game early because of a hamstring injury. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this injury is to Jones' right hamstring, the opposite leg of Jones' prior injury that caused him to miss Weeks 6 and 7. His status for Week 11 is uncertain.

• Fellow rookie receiver A.J. Green also had an injury scare Sunday when he landed awkwardly during a touchdown grab in the end zone, hyperextending his right knee. Although his knee was stiff, Green told the Cincinnati Enquirer he did not hear a "pop," usually a good sign, and a follow-up MRI that came back negative was even more encouraging. The Cincinnati Bengals expect him to play Sunday.

• It's too soon to have any meaningful update on New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who sat out Week 10 to rest his healing foot. Bradshaw had improved to walking without pain last week. The key will be when he can progress to running. As coach Tom Coughlin told ESPN New York, "There is no sense speculating. He is going to have to go out and practice." Let's see if he does just that.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis (hamstring) has already been ruled out for Week 11. No word on Montario Hardesty's status (calf) just yet, but we will need to see if he can return to practice.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses.



Let the games begin! There are no bye teams this week, so there will be a full complement of games. The only fantasy roster substitutions will be because of injury, of which there are plenty, unfortunately. Tonight also marks the first of the Thursday night games, which will run through all but the final week of the regular season. The Oakland Raiders face the San Diego Chargers in a division matchup with plenty of key fantasy players in the mix. Be sure to set those lineups early!

The Raiders will be without running back Darren McFadden, who has yet to resume running since suffering a midfoot sprain in Week 7. According to the Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Raiders will leave him behind on this trip in the hopes of having him in Week 11 against the Minnesota Vikings. McFadden is still in a walking boot, so he is not close to returning. In the meantime, Michael Bush starts in his place.



Kicker Sebastian Janikowski returned in Week 9 after missing a game with a hamstring injury and kicked a 48-yard field goal. Although there was no word on his status immediately after that game, Janikowski did not practice at all this week. He is listed as questionable, but given that he is the only kicker on the roster headed into Thursday night's game, the plan is clearly for him to play. Still, as if there isn't enough evidence by now, the hamstring is unpredictable. The Raiders have to hope that Janikowski will not suffer any in-game setbacks.

[+] EnlargeMalcom Floyd
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireIt's probably safest for fantasy owners to sit Malcom Floyd for the Thursday night game.
The Chargers are expected to be without wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who apparently aggravated a hip injury in the Week 8 Monday night game. Floyd sat out the Week 9 game just four days ago, has not practiced at all this week and is listed as doubtful. He has a chance to be available (he played once this year already after being listed as doubtful), but clearly he would not be expected to contribute much.



On a positive note, the Chargers will be getting running back Ryan Mathews back after he missed Sunday's game with a groin injury. Mathews, currently listed as probable, was able to return to full practice Tuesday, the heaviest workday for teams playing Thursday.



Wide receiver Vincent Jackson has been contending with a hamstring injury for a number of weeks but has managed to play despite not being at full health. However, on Sunday, Jackson turned in one of his strongest performances of the season and seemed to emerge no worse for the wear. He is expected to play after practicing in full all week and is no longer listed on the injury report.



Meanwhile, tight end Antonio Gates has an all too familiar plantar fascia problem that has plagued him since last season. Recently, however, Gates has been able to play and practice on a fairly consistent basis, albeit in a controlled manner. It appears Gates will play in Thursday night's game, his fourth straight game after missing three weeks earlier in the season.

Quick Hits


• It's admittedly fatiguing reporting repeatedly on the status of Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, because it seems the story is unchanged. Johnson continues to do some work on his own, primarily running and individual workouts with the rehab staff, but so far, persistent soreness has prevented him from taking that next step and returning to the lineup. Johnson has not practiced, but on Thursday, coach Gary Kubiak said Johnson is "doing extremely well," according to Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com. He suggests if Johnson is able to practice Friday, he could be a game-time decision. It's worth noting that this has also been the case in previous weeks, but he hasn't played.

The Texans have maintained they would not automatically rest Johnson through the bye in Week 11, but the timing is hard to ignore. It has been clear since the date of the procedure that the goal of surgery was to have Johnson avoid dealing with a nagging, chronic injury. It makes sense, then, that he would not return prematurely following the procedure and risk a setback that would yield the same result. While Johnson has looked good running, he has not yet felt like himself. Until he does, he will not return, and again this week, the decision likely will be in Johnson's hands.



New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram returned to limited practice Wednesday, his first since suffering a heel bruise in Week 7. Ingram followed up Wednesday's effort with a Thursday practice, a good sign that he is healing, but perhaps not enough to convince us that he's ready for games. It remains to be seen what he does on Friday but at this point, Ingram's status still appears questionable. Teammate Lance Moore was not in practice Thursday because of a tight hamstring, so keep an eye on what he is able to do Friday.

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesHakeem Nicks hopes to get back on the field after missing last week's Patriots game.
• The New York Giants have two big question marks heading into this weekend's big contest against the San Francisco 49ers. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks sat out Week 9 with a hamstring injury but is making progress daily. Nicks ran on the side Wednesday, then followed that up with individual drills Thursday. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, if he continues to feel no aftereffects from these consecutive workouts, he could return to practice Friday and hopefully play Sunday. We know better now that with regard to hamstring injuries, it is too soon to lock Nicks into your lineup, but he is at least headed in the right direction.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw has a known stress fracture in his foot and has not practiced this week. The criterion for his return revolves around when he can resume running without pain. Until we see him doing just that, it is hard to see him taking to the field.



• The 49ers have an injury concern impacting one of their own key players. Running back Frank Gore sustained an ankle injury in Week 9 and has been limited in practice this week. Gore finished Sunday's game and is expected to suit up again. But Gore was seen favoring his ankle in practice, according to CSN Bay Area, and if it is still bothering him Sunday, Kendall Hunter might see some additional work.

Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones did some increased work Monday to test his recovering left ankle. Jones has not practiced since. His return to rehab instead of the practice field suggests he will sit out his fourth consecutive game.

• Just as receiver Plaxico Burress seems to be getting in a rhythm with his quarterback, his back starts to act up. Last week, Burress entered the game questionable because of back spasms but managed to endure. This week, Burress has not practiced because of his back, but at his age and coming off extended time away from football, he may be awarded a little more recovery time. Stay tuned to see whether he returns to Friday practice.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog!



Setbacks with hamstrings. That was the theme of Week 9, and it just might turn out to be the theme of the season. Consider the number of fantasy players whose seasons have already been significantly affected by hamstring injuries; names such as Miles Austin, Peyton Hillis, Andre Johnson and Daniel Thomas come to mind. Oh, wait! We're stealing the thunder of our Tuesday injury report, so here we go.

[+] EnlargeRyan Mathews
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesRyan Mathews owners need to make a quick decision on whether to start him this week.
The status of the San Diego Chargers is important early in the week since they will be playing Thursday night. Naturally, as has been the trend all season, there are concerns at both running back and wide receiver. Ryan Mathews did not play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers after suffering a minor groin injury in the Monday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mathews did go through some light exercise before the game (remember, he was listed as questionable before Sunday's game, so there was at least a chance he could have played), then went through the team's light walk-through practice Monday. So far, signs are encouraging that he will play. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson remained on the injury report because of his hamstring but had a huge game in Week 9, including 140-plus yards and three touchdowns. Jackson proved he could function well despite not being quite at full health. Unfortunately, teammate Malcom Floyd is not faring as well. Floyd was unable to play Sunday after apparently aggravating his hip injury in the Chargers' Monday night game and has not yet returned to practice. His status for Thursday is in doubt.

Likewise, the Oakland Raiders will be playing Thursday night, making all the more critical the status of running back Darren McFadden, who has been ruled out, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Heading into Sunday's contest, coach Hue Jackson had intimated that McFadden could be kept out of Week 9 with the Week 10 game coming just four days later. In other words, many expected McFadden to be ready to go Thursday. On Monday, we learned McFadden still had not tested his injured right foot running, casting doubt on his ability to be ready by Thursday. McFadden is just two weeks removed from the injury, and as noted in an earlier blog post, the midfoot is critical for transferring weight and injuries to the area can be tricky. Given McFadden's history of prior foot injuries, ensuring he is healthy enough to advance his activity is key to avoiding lingering problems. It appears Michael Bush will be in line for another start with Taiwan Jones as his backup.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis has had his share of challenges this season. Things did not get any easier when Hillis suffered a major setback in Friday practice, aggravating his hamstring injury on a running play. A subsequent MRI suggested the injury had increased in severity, and Hillis was expected to miss an additional two to four weeks, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Naturally, he sat out Sunday's game and already has been declared out for Week 10. Coach Pat Shurmur told reporters the team "has not discussed" placing Hillis on injured reserve. Meanwhile, teammate Montario Hardesty also has been declared out for Week 10 as he recovers from his calf injury. The struggling Chris Ogbonnaya remains the likely starter.

[+] EnlargeTBD
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezMiles Austin injured his right hamstring on this play Sunday.
Sticking with the hamstring theme, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin pulled up lame after a big reception Sunday, suffering an injury to his hamstring. With all the setbacks to players returning from significant hamstring injuries, many assumed that was the case for Austin as well; he had dealt with one on his left side earlier in the season. As it turns out, Austin pulled the opposite hamstring (his right), and according to ESPN Dallas, this injury is "higher" than the earlier one. Austin missed Weeks 3 and 4 after suffering a setback to the left hamstring he originally injured during the preseason. He returned to action following the Cowboys' Week 5 bye and managed 74 yards receiving. After two subsequent low-production games, Austin appeared on track for a bigger day Sunday, until the injury occurred. The current projection is for Austin to miss two to four weeks.



Quick Hits


• The wait for Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson to return might go on a bit longer. Although Johnson worked out Monday, coach Gary Kubiak was unsure whether Johnson would practice Wednesday. The mantra remains the same: Johnson will not return until he feels 100 percent. Whether that is this week or after the team's Week 11 bye has not yet been determined.

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore sprained his left ankle in the second quarter of Sunday's game but continued to play. Although he appeared to be in serious discomfort after the game, subsequent X-rays came back negative, and both Gore and coach Jim Harbaugh have said he will be fine. Harbaugh told the Sacramento Bee, "He's feeling like Frank." Ah, just what Gore fantasy owners and 49ers fans want to hear. It sounds as if he is prepared for their big matchup Sunday against the New York Giants.

• But will the Giants have all their weapons on the field? Right now wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw, both of whom sat out in Week 9 with injuries, have a chance to play Sunday. Nicks (hamstring) and Bradshaw (foot) were to be re-evaluated Tuesday, and whether they can return to practice later in the week should hint at their availability.

[+] EnlargeJones
Elsa/Getty ImagesFelix Jones could return to action this week, but will he be able to supplant DeMarco Murray as the Cowboys' primary ball carrier?
• Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones could return this week after missing three weeks with his left high ankle sprain. The Dallas Morning News reports Jones did some cutting maneuvers while working out Monday, and coach Jason Garrett says the Cowboys are "hopeful" about his progress. Naturally, they want to see what Jones can do as the week progresses, but if all goes well, they could have Jones alongside DeMarco Murray.

• The Indianapolis Colts really haven't had much in the way of positives this season. Now they might have suffered another big loss in tight end Dallas Clark, who sustained what the team referred to as a lower leg injury. He is expected to be out "more than a week," according to coach Jim Caldwell. Note the vague injury information from the Colts, which is standard. Even their hint of more than a week suggests seriousness on the part of the team.

• ESPN.com reports Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is expected to miss Week 10. He is scheduled to meet with doctors and undergo further tests in what continues to be an ongoing recovery from the concussion he suffered in Week 6.

• The Buffalo Bills have lost their kicker, Rian Lindell, for an extended period with a serious shoulder injury. They have signed Dave Rayner, who filled in for Sebastian Janikowski for a week earlier this season, to take over for the near future.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses.

It turns out Thursday was a good reminder day.

We were reminded that no two injuries, even with the same classification, are identical. Witness the "hamstring strain." So far we have seen a range of missed games for players who have suffered this injury, from zero games missed (Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers) to two games missed (Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans, albeit nonconsecutive) to four games missed and counting (Andre Johnson, WR, Texans), with a surgery involved.

The point is, while an injury might be labeled the same way, technically, on numerous team injury reports, the severity, treatment, recovery time and any number of other factors can be quite different. Perhaps most importantly, the rate at which an individual heals cannot be quantified or predicted with any degree of certainty for any particular injury. There are time ranges for certain types of tissue repair (up to six weeks typically for bone healing, for instance), and therefore there are projection estimates. But there also are variations in treatment. Sometimes there is debate -- yes, debate! -- about whether a particular condition is better managed aggressively with surgery, conservatively with rehabilitation or the hybrid, an initial conservative approach followed by offseason surgery.

On Thursday, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw and his injured foot reminded us there are many variables that factor into how an injury affects an athlete. Those variables can render the outlook either bleak (Bradshaw out indefinitely because of a cracked bone in his foot, as reported by the Newark Star-Ledger) or promising (Bradshaw's injury is not serious and he should play Sunday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter), depending on how the information is packaged. Typically, much to the dismay of those seeking instant definitive responses on Twitter, it's impossible to determine simply from one strand of information, even if it involves a specific diagnosis, what the expectation for missed time will be.

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Chris Faytok/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireIt's still too early to tell what Ahmad Bradshaw's status is for Week 9.
Technically, both statements regarding Bradshaw could be true. Bradshaw could have a cracked bone, and the injury still could be considered not serious, as in not season- or career-threatening. Bradshaw still could be out indefinitely ... which ultimately could turn out to be three days or three weeks (or more). According to ESPN New York, even Giants coach Tom Coughlin seemed in the dark about the course Bradshaw's care will take and whether surgery will be an option. "I'm not going to speculate on what the doctors are going to decide or say. I don't know," the coach said. For now, the biggest hint Coughlin gave us was that the guys who are practicing will play, and Bradshaw has not yet practiced this week.

Athletes have physically performed with foot fractures in the past. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones ran at the 2011 NFL combine with a fracture in his fifth metatarsal (incidentally, the same bone Bradshaw had surgically repaired and that appears to be the source of his current discomfort) and went on to have surgery later. Some might recall Jones ran rather well despite the broken bone. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played last season with what was originally called a sprained foot. The injury was actually a small fracture (also on the fifth metatarsal), and later his injury was described as a broken foot. As in Bradshaw's case, the injury was related to a prior incident. While the word "fracture" sounded ominous and the injury was undoubtedly painful, he never missed time.

The ultimate message is this: No matter what information we might have about an injury, the human body does not subscribe to fantasy football deadlines. And so we continue to suffer as we move closer to Sunday ...

Quick Hits


• It might be another week of waiting for Andre Johnson. This would be his fifth missed game, but he is just one month removed from the surgical procedure to address his torn hamstring. The hope was that he could return in three to four weeks, so it's not as if Johnson is way past the projected timeline, but as Johnson has noted, doctors told him it could take up to six weeks to fully recover (and here you can refer back to the above note on how individuals heal at different rates).

The primary issue is how Johnson feels. Reports suggest he has looked good running when participating in practice, but Johnson still has an awareness of the injured part. The team, wisely, does not want him on the playing field until he is symptom-free. It would be a far worse scenario for him to return only to suffer another injury that could cost him additional time. While his absence is frustrating to fantasy owners -- and no doubt to the Texans and Johnson himself -- imagine how frustrating an early departure to further injury would be. It's worth the wait ... and it looks as if we'll be waiting beyond Week 9. The Texans continue to maintain Johnson is being evaluated on a daily basis and will not "automatically" sit out through their Week 11 bye.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden was observed leaving the practice facility on crutches and in a walking boot Wednesday evening. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Raiders coach Hue Jackson indicated the team would consider holding a guy who was "close" to being ready out of Sunday's game, given the Raiders will play again four days later. The Raiders face the San Diego Chargers next Thursday in the first of a series of Thursday night games. Since McFadden is still protecting the foot from bearing weight, he's not in line to run up and down the field by this weekend. His presence in Week 10 isn't looking automatic at this point, either, but there's still time for him to progress.

• Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had a normal practice Wednesday, and that makes it two weeks in a row. It's perhaps more impressive this week since the Chargers played Monday night. Also practicing for the Chargers on Wednesday was running back Mike Tolbert, who was held out Monday because of a strained hamstring. It's a good thing he's looking healthy, because teammate Ryan Mathews has not practiced since injuring his groin Monday night, and it's looking as if he will miss Week 9. Emerging running back Curtis Brinkley suffered a concussion Monday night, and he does not look as if he'll be available, either. Receiver Vincent Jackson did not practice Wednesday, but so far this season, he has missed more midweek practices than he has made. At least it seems that way. Still, he returned to practice Thursday and has played each week, so it's tough to imagine him missing this one. Malcom Floyd didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, either, but after racking up 100 receiving yards Monday night after coming off a hip injury, you could say he earned some rest. If Floyd doesn't return Friday, it's time to start getting nervous.

[+] EnlargePeyton Hillis
Kyle Terada/US PresswireGood news: Peyton Hillis was back at practice Thursday.
&#8226 Alert, alert: good fantasy news! There's so much gloom among fantasy owners contending with injured players, it's nice to be able to insert something positive in this blog once in a while. Just when Peyton Hillis owners were resigning themselves to another week without him, his status took a turn for the better Thursday. Hillis returned to practice Thursday, and according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (via Twitter), he was in full pads, participated in team drills and looked good. Cabot also quoted Hillis as saying if today were Sunday, he'd play. While this all is very encouraging, we flash back to last week, when Hillis practiced and then was increasingly sore the next day, after which he did not return ... until today. If Hillis can put in back-to-back practices, then fantasy owners and Browns fans can start getting excited.

&#8226 According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Cardinals running back Beanie Wells has said he expects his knee to be an issue all season. On Sunday, just one week from suffering what the team thought could be a season-ending injury, Wells ran as if nothing was wrong. Yet this week he reminds us it could be a problem all year, and he remained limited in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. This appears as if it will be the weekly scenario going forward when it comes to practice. The question is, will Wells' weekly productivity be that consistent?

&#8226 New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has not practiced at all this week, and the bruised heel that caused him to miss last week's game is likely to keep him out again.

&#8226 Broncos running back Willis McGahee just might be true to his word. McGahee indicated he expected to play in Week 9 after fracturing the fourth metacarpal in his right hand in Week 7. He had a plate and screws put in to stabilize the fracture, but he has been back on the field, practicing with his hand wrapped. The primary issue is gripping the ball. Given the wide grip required to carry a football, it's easier on the recently repaired bone than if, for example, McGahee needed to close his hand around a baseball, which requires more motion in the hand. That's not to say it will be comfortable, but pain is something McGahee can potentially overcome. If the medical staff is confident the hand can be adequately protected and McGahee can carry/protect/block to the satisfaction of his coaches, he has a decent chance of being in the lineup Sunday.

&#8226 The aforementioned Julio Jones is set to return from his hamstring injury this week. Jones missed two games, then entered a well-timed bye week. He has been practicing all week and is expected to play Sunday.

&#8226 As if the Bradshaw situation weren't enough, the Giants could be without starting wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who strained his hamstring Sunday. Nicks has not yet practiced, but he also has a history of going right up to game day before a decision on his status is made. The Giants did not appear overly concerned about the severity of the injury, but they certainly don't want it to take a turn for the worse. Expect this to possibly come down to pregame warm-ups.

&#8226 Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham hasn't practiced this week after sitting out Week 8. Gresham felt his hamstring tighten up in pregame warm-ups, and the decision was made to hold him out. Apparently it's more than just a pregame issue; things aren't looking good for Gresham's chance of suiting up in Week 9.

&#8226 And finally, expect Cowboys running back Felix Jones to miss this week's game. It would have been early to expect him to return from the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 6, and he hasn't practiced at all this week. More DeMarco Murray!

See you at my injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET, and I'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 9 in my Saturday morning blog.


In the realm of injuries, this was no Week 7, thankfully. That doesn't mean fantasy rosters escaped unscathed. Oh no, not a chance of that happening.

[+] EnlargeSan Diego's Mike Tolbert
AP Photo/Charles KrupaMike Tolbert missed Monday night's game but he might be the only healthy Chargers running back for next week.
• The San Diego Chargers' running backs are in the injury mix again. Ryan Mathews injured his groin late in Monday night's game and did not return. Mike Tolbert was dressed and running on the field before the game, trying to convince coaches he should play. He didn't. And then there was Curtis Brinkley, who stepped in when Mathews stepped out. He delivered a touchdown, some carries, some catches, then suffered a concussion. His status is now murky as well. With all this happening Monday night, who knows how things will shape up by Sunday? Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune expects Tolbert to be ready to go. The other two backs have fresh injuries, so it's likely a decision won't come until later.



• The Cleveland Browns' running back situation is also a bit messy. Peyton Hillis did not play Sunday despite making the trip to San Francisco. Given his midweek setback with his hamstring last week, there is no counting on him for Week 9, no matter how badly the team needs him. Montario Hardesty will not play for a while, now that he has suffered a moderate strain (Grade 2) of his right medial gastrocnemius (calf) muscle, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Hardesty definitely will miss time but the extent is unknown. These injuries often take time to recover from, and certainly as a running back, push-off requires use of the calf muscle, so there's no getting around it. Plan on him being down a month. How many of you had Chris Ogbonnaya on your roster? I'm not going to lie. As a Hillis owner, I did. I was rewarded with 10 points. The question then is, will Ogbonnaya repeat? Perhaps not, but he might be worth a look if you're hurting. The Browns are glad they took a chance on him since he was handling the load Sunday when Hardesty went down. Also, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain-Dealer reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Browns added running back Thomas Clayton to their roster. Clayton was active for the Browns for two games last season.

New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has a hamstring strain. The Giants are calling him day-to-day, and there appears to be no sense of panic at the moment. According to the Star-Ledger, Nicks is expecting to play this weekend against the New England Patriots. Teammate Ahmad Bradshaw was in and out of Sunday's game, getting X-rays on his right foot. The fact that he returned to the game after getting his foot retaped is a positive sign, and Bradshaw told the New York Daily News, "I knew it was fine. Just being precautious about it." That sounds like a good thing.

Fred Davis has a Grade 1 ankle sprain, according to coach Mike Shanahan. Given that this is the most minor version of an ankle sprain, it does not look like it will keep Davis off the field Sunday, but naturally we'll wait to see how much he does in practice. At least Davis is not part of a tricky shared backfield. Speaking of which, the Washington Redskins have added Tashard Choice to their running back roster, but he will miss Week 9 with a hamstring injury.

[+] EnlargeKevin Kolb
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinKevin Kolb's first season in Arizona has been up and down, and now he's got a toe injury.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb has an injured right toe, which might make it difficult for him to play in Week 9. Kolb acknowledged to reporters that the injury to his plant foot made it difficult to throw passes with the same velocity. On Monday, Kolb was in a walking boot, saying he had "no idea" what his status for Sunday would be.

There also are those who were sidelined in Week 8 whose status is of interest for Week 9.

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is now out of his walking boot and "walking freely," according to Tony Softli of 101ESPN in St. Louis. Removal of the boot and walking with a normal gait are good measures of progress, as the injured area is stressed with every full weight-bearing step. If there was pain or any instability, Bradford would not be able to walk without a limp. Now let's see whether Bradford can get back to practice and make throws by the end of the week.

• We thought the Houston Texans might have wide receiver Andre Johnson back in the mix Sunday, but he did not feel ready. There is no way the Texans are going to press him into service if he is still experiencing any abnormal sensation in the hamstring. Last week we noted Johnson reported "tugging" in the leg. If he's feeling that while running at less than full speed, there is no way he can accelerate to top speed. Coach Gary Kubiak said Monday that the Texans hope Johnson will be ready for Week 9 but noted Johnson's symptoms were limiting factors this past week.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones seemed to benefit from the bye week. Jones was back in practice Monday and appears on track to play in Week 9, barring a setback.

• We haven't heard much from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers regarding LeGarrette Blount, but what we're hearing now is encouraging. Coach Raheem Morris told New Orleans reporters that Blount would return for this week's game. It will be nice to see Blount in practice, and see how he's moving following his knee sprain and whether he's wearing a protective brace, but with Earnest Graham done for the season, the Bucs surely could use him.



Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden went into the bye week with a midfoot sprain, but the team seemed optimistic he'd return in Week 9. Well, it's preparation time for Week 9, and McFadden was not in practice Monday. It doesn't mean he won't be on the field by midweek, but until we see him running, there's reason to maintain some fantasy insurance.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses.

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