Stephania Bell: Anquan Boldin

Late Week 16 injury updates

December, 23, 2011
12/23/11
8:24
PM ET


With the majority of NFL matchups taking place on Saturday, there is one fewer day for teams, coaches and, most importantly, fantasy owners to prepare! Never fear, championship contenders. We won't let something as small as a schedule change get in the way of bringing you all the latest information. With the NFL injury reports hot off the presses, here are the players whose status may have you concerned heading into this week's games.

Good luck in Week 16, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
Frank Victores/US PresswireBen Roethlisberger likely will play against the Rams only in case of an emergency.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers, ankle (Q): The Steelers have been preparing Charlie Batch all week to face the St. Louis Rams, with Roethlisberger active only in an emergency scenario. This is not a huge surprise, as Roethlisberger is coming off a short week following the Monday night game in which he was clearly limited. With the playoffs forthcoming, the extended rest can only help. It's too soon to say whether the Steelers plan to have him active or not in the final week of the regular season.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, ribs, (P): Vick will probably be on this list through the end of the regular season as his rib injury continues to heal. There's no question, however, that Vick will be the quarterback for the Eagles against the Dallas Cowboys.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, right shoulder, (P): Freeman is now at the point where he can play despite the shoulder soreness. He practiced fully this week and will start against the Carolina Panthers.

Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals, head, (Q): Kolb suffered a concussion in Week 14 and has still only returned to limited practice. It's expected that John Skelton will start again.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams, ankle, (D): Bradford has been struggling with his ankle, saying it feels as if it's "going backwards." Not good. Neither is a doubtful tag. With backup A.J. Feeley already ruled out, it appears recently signed Kellen Clemens will get the start.

Running Backs

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, ankle, (Q): Johnson sprained his ankle Sunday and has been gradually increasing his activity throughout the week in an effort to return. While Johnson escaped major structural injury, the ankle has still been sore and could affect his overall performance, particularly with lateral movement and cutting. Johnson returned to limited practice Thursday and Friday and is expected to play, but likely will not be at top form.



Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, foot, (P): Bradshaw is following the same pattern of limited work during the week and playing on Sunday. Expect him to play again this week.

[+] EnlargeFelix Jones
Douglas Jones/US PresswireThe oft-injured Felix Jones is once again a question mark for fantasy owners.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys, hamstring, (Q): Jones hasn't done much ... and that's the worry. Although he has been doing some running on the side, he has not fully tested the hamstring. While the Cowboys hold out hope he'll be available, it's Sammy Morris who has taken all the first-team reps in practice. As another signal the Cowboys want insurance, they promoted running back Chauncey Washington from the practice squad, according to ESPNDallas.com. To complicate matters, this is a late game and the decision will not likely be announced until inactives are due. Even if Jones plays, there has to be some concern about what exactly one can expect in live game conditions.

Michael Bush, Oakland Raiders, shoulder, (Q): Bush has been on the injury report but it seems only logical he would be. After all, there are many other Raiders there to keep him company but, most importantly, he has been the workhorse of the backfield, enduring a physical toll. After he has been limited in practice each day, the questionable tag does raise some eyebrows. The signals out of Oakland all week have been that the Raiders expect to have Bush play, but it will be important to check pregame inactives.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos, hamstring, (P): McGahee has been bothered intermittently by the hamstring since hyperextending his knee but the probable tag tells us the Broncos plan to have him on the field. McGahee practiced in full every day, which should also help put fantasy owners' collective minds at ease.



Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions, ankle, (P): Smith's status is an upgrade over last week, indicating the team is feeling far more confident about his ankle. Smith's activity this week was a positive sign, as he was able to practice in full each day. While there's no way to be certain he can get through the game unscathed, this is certainly a better situation than last week.

Roy Helu, Washington Redskins, toe/knee, (Q): Helu downplayed his injuries, but according to The Washington Post, he felt much better after practice Thursday than he did earlier in the week. Despite the questionable tag, it appears Helu will play.



Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle, (P): His ankle got tangled up during the Week 15 game, but Jones-Drew, one of the most durable and productive running backs this season, was never really in danger of missing the game. He was given fewer reps in practice but participated on a limited basis every day. Jones-Drew is expected to start against Tennessee.

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals, knee, (Q): After he was listed as probable the past couple of weeks, it's a little concerning that Wells has been downgraded this week to questionable. He did practice daily, but on a limited basis; however, that has been the pattern for some time as the team has been attempting to manage his knee condition. The Arizona Republic reports that Wells is expected to play Saturday, despite the questionable tag.



James Starks, knee/ankle and Brandon Saine, concussion, Green Bay Packers, (P): Starks sat out last week's game to give his ankle some additional rest. It only made sense after Starks struggled for several weeks in a row. This week has gone much better for Starks, who was able to participate fully in practice each day. Saine missed Week 15 with a concussion but returned to limited practice Wednesday, then full practice Thursday and Friday. Both backs are expected to be available along with Ryan Grant. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, there is likely to be a shared workload in place.

Shonn Greene, New York Jets, rib/shoulder, (P): Greene has been on the injury report for a few weeks now and his latest injury (torn tendon in finger) isn't even listed. The probable tag indicates the Jets expect him to play.

Marion Barber, Chicago Bears, calf, (D): Barber is listed as doubtful, meaning there is little doubt that Kahlil Bell will be carrying the load for the Bears on Saturday.

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints, toe, no designation yet: Ingram is still not practicing, and with the game on Monday night, fantasy owners should avoid him in their lineups.

Wide Receivers

[+] EnlargeA.J. Green
Scott Rovak/US PresswireAfter missing part of last week's game with an injury, A.J. Green appears poised to carry a full load this week.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, shoulder, (P): Knowing that Green comes into this game fresh off a Grade 3 shoulder separation, the probable tag is very encouraging. Green has maintained all along that he would be able to play this weekend, and now it appears all but certain that he will. He was catching passes as early as Tuesday, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday, and returned to a full practice Friday. If Green lands hard on the recently injured shoulder, it certainly won't feel terrific and he may be challenged to reach directly overhead, but he managed to finish the game last week after suffering the injury. It's hard to imagine it being much worse Saturday.

Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills, groin, (P): Last Sunday Johnson appeared to aggravate the groin injury that has plagued him throughout the season and was removed from the game as a result. Johnson said he could have re-entered the game and expressed little doubt that he would be back in Week 16. He practiced on a limited basis daily and appears on track to play as usual. It's worth noting that Johnson has performed well this season despite the presence of injury.



Laurent Robinson, Dallas Cowboys, shoulder (Q): Robinson was listed this way last week but we all know he played. Expect him to do the same again after practicing daily.

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles, hamstring/shoulder (P): Maclin looked better last week than he did the week before and the probable tag tells us the Eagles are confident he'll be out there again. Maclin practiced fully each day and looks to be overcoming the injury.

Mario Manningham, New York Giants, knee, (D): Manningham has managed to play through his knee issue for the last two weeks but it appears he will miss this one. Swelling in the knee has returned, and he did not practice at all this week. Fantasy owners should make other plans.

Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans, ankle, (P): Washington has already shown he can play through the ankle injury, even coming in at far more questionable status. After practicing in full daily, Washington appears good to go against Jacksonville.

Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins, knee, (P): Marshall apparently had been dealing with some knee soreness but nothing so serious that he might have to miss this matchup against the New England Patriots. Marshall didn't practice Wednesday but returned to light work Thursday and full practice Friday. Expect him to play.

[+] EnlargeChargers' Vincent Jackson
Kirby Lee/US PRESSWIREA groin injury may keep out Vincent Jackson at the worst time for fantasy owners.
Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers, groin, (Q): Jackson did not practice at all this week because of the groin issue, making his Saturday status far less certain. Jackson has played through injuries before, but this time may be different. It seemed like a foregone conclusion earlier in the week that Jackson would go, but Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Jackson's groin has not responded as hoped to treatment during the week. Late game alert.

Wes Welker, knee and Deion Branch, groin, New England Patriots, (Q): Once again the Patriots have roughly half their roster at questionable after limited practice all week. Welker has been at this status for several weeks and has played without incident. Branch, however, missed last week and there is legitimate question as to whether he is ready to return. Branch says he's improving, but the team will make the final decision, just before game time.

Santonio Holmes, New York Jets, hip, (P): Holmes was an addition to the Thursday injury report after being limited in practice, but coach Rex Ryan said the Jets expected him to be ready by Saturday. The probable tag supports that, and fantasy owners can put him in their lineups.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders, foot, (P): Moore was able to make it back last week but didn't do too much. Another week of practice (full practices daily) should have him on track for more action.

OUT


This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens, knee: Boldin underwent knee surgery this week and will miss the remainder of the regular season.

Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers, knee: Jennings suffered a sprained MCL in Week 14 and is likely out for the remainder of the regular season.

[+] EnlargeJake Ballard
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesJake Ballard won't be able to take advantage of a Jets defense that struggled to stop fellow tight end Brent Celek last week.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears, knee: Forte suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain, and the Bears still hope he will be able to return before the regular season is complete, but it is far from certain.

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, thumb: The Bears' starting quarterback remains out alongside their starting running back. Cutler is recovering from surgery to repair his broken right thumb.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders, foot: McFadden is still removed from practice but the team still holds out hope he can return at some point. It won't be this week.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders, foot: Ford has still not been able to practice this week as he recovers from a foot injury.

Jake Ballard, TE, New York Giants, knee: Ballard injured his PCL and, as expected, will miss this week.

Anthony Fasano, TE, Miami Dolphins, head: Fasano was diagnosed with a concussion Thursday, at which point it appeared obvious he would sit out this week. The team made it official Friday.

Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now on Saturday this week, on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET and Fantasy Surround on ESPN.com starting at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!



This week we see the start of Thursday night games (pro football three days a week!) when the San Francisco 49ers host the Chicago Bears, so don't forget to activate the early-game players on your roster.



Thankfully we can finally say goodbye to the weeks of six teams on bye! There are only two teams resting this week -- the New York Giants and the Houston Texans -- so many fantasy teams will have their full rosters available. Naturally, injuries will impact player availability to some degree and that's why we're here for you. We can already anticipate that Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis will not be available as he recovers from a concussion. But you may be able to utilize Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden, who looks to be on track for a possible return following knee surgery.

Who else do fantasy owners need to be examining closely when it comes to injuries? We take a look at what we know so far as we move toward Week 10.

Portis
Dale Zanine/US PresswireClinton Portis had just four carries for four yards against the Falcons before he got injured.
Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins: Portis is the latest star fantasy player to literally be knocked out of a game, as he suffered a concussion Sunday. He is doubtful heading into Week 10, according to head coach Jim Zorn, who told The Washington Post that he spoke with Portis on Monday morning and that his star running back could not remember the disabling hit. He indicated that Portis would undergo IMPACT testing Tuesday (tests that examine how the brain is processing information). Those test results are compared with preseason test numbers and must return to baseline levels before a player can be cleared to return to play. In addition to cognitive testing, the medical staff will monitor any concussion-related symptoms that Portis exhibits to determine whether he can participate in any exercise activity. While it is impossible to predict how long it will be before Portis can return, we do know that Ladell Betts will be the projected starter in Portis' absence.

Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook sat out Sunday's game, which came as a bit of a surprise based on how good Westbrook looked in midweek practice. This serves as a reminder that not only are concussions taken very seriously, as they should be, but that symptoms can return days later as activity is increased. Westbrook had put in full practices on Wednesday and Thursday, but sat out Friday's practice. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Westbrook was held out Friday as a result of recurrent swelling in his surgically repaired ankle. Even coach Andy Reid indicated early Friday that Westbrook didn't have a return of his headache, but that the team wanted to rest him after he had practiced extensively the two days prior. The Inquirer adds that it was later Friday, after the decision had been made to hold Westbrook out of practice, that he experienced headache symptoms which led to his being held out of Sunday's game. "The reason he didn't play was strictly because of the headache," Reid said.



Heading into this week, the team is hopeful that Westbrook's concussion symptoms will have completely resolved and that his ankle will be in better shape. Reid hopes to have him in practice Wednesday. As we saw last week, practice Wednesday is no guarantee for playing Sunday, but it would be a step in the right direction. Westbrook owners may find themselves faced with another game-time decision in Week 10.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: By now, fantasy owners know that Boldin did not play in Week 9 in order to rest his injured ankle. They also know that he wasn't happy about it. In the end, it was not a huge surprise that he was declared inactive as coach Ken Whisenhunt had been hinting at that possibility throughout the week. Nonetheless, Boldin's presence in practice Friday did render that decision a little less predictable heading into the weekend.

So what can fantasy owners expect this week? It would seem that Boldin is more likely to play in Week 10. Keep in mind that his ankle sprain is not likely to be 100 percent recovered. The hope for the Cardinals had to be that Boldin would be further along in his healing following a week of rest which would then allow him to last for an entire game, something he could not do in Weeks 8 or 9. Stay tuned to see what Boldin does in practice this week. Expect him to see limited work with the likelihood that he will suit up on Sunday.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: Johnson returned to the field Sunday but was relatively quiet. He had nine passes thrown his way, not all of them accurate, and hauled in two receptions for a grand total of 27 yards. Although Johnson's performance didn't exactly stand out, the good news is that he emerged unscathed from the game and should be in better shape heading into Week 10. Johnson's presence does open up the offense and if he and Matthew Stafford can increase their practice together, things should improve. Maybe not this week though; the Lions face the Minnesota Vikings.

Other quick hits:

Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards is expected to be cleared to play this Sunday. He is feeling better since suffering a concussion several weeks ago.

St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola suffered a concussion in Week 8 but he has been cleared to return to play. He returned to practice Monday and says he has fully recovered.



Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown sat out Week 9 and his status for this week is unclear. Last week, Brown was off the injury report and practiced fully Wednesday and Thursday. He was then a surprise addition Friday when he did not practice at all. The Colts want to have him back when he can play without risk of a setback and will update his status midweek.

• Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to remove some debris within the joint. Is he still on your roster? By now, you should have a replacement slotted in for him as the situation remains unpredictable.

• Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden was back in practice Monday. If all goes well, he will be on the field Sunday when the Raiders host the Kansas City Chiefs. Just how much time he would see in his return is uncertain. The Raiders are also hoping to see wide receiver Chaz Schilens rejoin the team soon. Schilens has been slowly working his way back from foot surgery and acknowledges that he is not yet 100 percent.

New England Patriots running back Sammy Morris was walking through the locker room without a limp Monday according to the Boston Globe. He is recovering from a sprained MCL. The Boston Herald reported last week that he hoped to be available in Week 11, so expect Laurence Maroney to start for the Patriots again this Sunday.

• Although the San Francisco 49ers did not practice Monday, they released an "estimated" practice injury report based on what they projected for their players (required with the game upcoming on Thursday). Frank Gore, who suffered an eye contusion after getting poked in Week 9, was listed as a full participant, indicating the team expects him to start as usual Thursday. Tight end Vernon Davis was listed as limited because of a left shoulder contusion. It does not sound as if this would be enough to keep him out of Thursday's game, though.

More to come in Thursday's blog.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11:00 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.) and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog!

Westbrook looking better for Week 9

November, 5, 2009
11/05/09
3:37
PM ET


Usually we don't get much information from the teams that are on bye weeks as they quietly rest their injured players and give everyone some much-needed downtime. That said, there are a few interesting tidbits from a couple of teams who are not playing in Week 9.



While there is other news swirling among the Oakland Raiders, fantasy owners might want to note that running back Darren McFadden has returned to practice for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in October to address a torn meniscus. The Oakland Tribune reports that McFadden practiced without experiencing any setbacks. Of course, the all-important test is how the knee responds in subsequent days. If McFadden continues to practice, this is a good sign that he will be available in Week 10. The Tribune indicates that the Raiders expect McFadden to play next Sunday, but that the status of wide receiver Chaz Schilens, who is still slowly recovering from foot surgery, remains questionable.

On the opposite coast, Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards has returned to light practice following a concussion. The Buffalo News quotes a team source as saying that Edwards will return to his starting role in Week 10, assuming no setbacks as he continues to increase his practice activity.



The New York Jets are literally taking the week off as coach Rex Ryan gave everyone six days of vacation. Most players indicated that they had never had this kind of time off midseason. It will be interesting to see whether it proves to be the beginning of a fresh start for the slumping Jets. It could certainly help all the recovering muscle strains on that team.

Thankfully this is the last of the six-team bye weeks so fantasy owners have to contend with only one more frantic search to find substitutions. The Bills, Raiders, Jets, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings all have this week off.

Here are some status updates to help you shape your roster as we look ahead to Week 9.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers is nursing two sore feet and did not practice Wednesday as expected. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Rodgers has a sprained big toe on his left foot (sustained during last week's game) as well as a right foot sprain which he has been dealing with for two weeks. Rodgers broke the fifth metatarsal (long forefoot bone that connects to the fifth or pinkie toe) in 2006, so this new left toe injury is in a completely different location. The big toe is critical for push-off, so Rodgers' mobility may be compromised a bit more than usual, making his pocket protection that much more important.



Veteran tackle Mark Tauscher, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last December and has not played since, may make his season debut at right tackle this Sunday. It appears that Rodgers will also have his veteran left tackle Chad Clifton back in the lineup this week. Clifton, who has had recurring problems with an ankle sprain, was active last week but did not see playing time. That could very well change this week when the Packers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Look for Rodgers to do very little physical activity until Friday, as a measure for ensuring his availability for Sunday.

Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers: Delhomme was a full participant in practice Wednesday despite suffering a chest contusion in Week 8. As of now, it appears he is ready to take the field Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Running Backs

Brian Westbrook
Hunter Martin/Getty ImagesBrian Westbrook missed last week with a concussion but appears that he'll give it a go this week against the Cowboys.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles: On Tuesday, I outlined what would have to happen in order for Westbrook to be eligible to play in Week 9. So far, so good. Westbrook practiced fully on Wednesday and Thursday and coach Andy Reid says "he's good to go," according to the Eagles' official Web site. The expectation is that he will practice every day this week and barring any setback, will be prepared to play Sunday. Expect the typical Westbrook and LeSean McCoy rotation as the team looks to balance his workload, which has been a constant throughout the season. Westbrook continues to run well when called upon; he is just called upon less frequently as the Eagles utilize all their options.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: As expected, Bradshaw did not practice Wednesday to rest his foot and ankle. Bradshaw likely will do limited work before the game and then play Sunday when the Giants host the San Diego Chargers. Bradshaw did not have his best statistics Sunday and it is no secret that he is playing in pain. Nonetheless he has performed well overall despite playing with the injury and there is no reason to think that he won't continue to do so.



Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts: Brown did not play in Week 8 because of his shoulder injury but was back in practice Wednesday trying to make his case for this Sunday. In fact, fantasy owners may think he's in the clear since Brown did not even appear on the Colts' official practice injury report for Wednesday. Not so fast. The Colts are holding off on making a decision as to whether or not Brown will be available until late in the week. No doubt they will want to see that he can practice on consecutive days without limitation. This could result in a game-time decision, but for what it's worth, the Colts face the Houston Texans in an early matchup.

Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions: Smith injured his left shoulder in Sunday's game, taking him out of the game early. Apparently it was not so serious that Smith could not have returned, but since Maurice Morris was running well, the Lions went with him. This is not the same shoulder Smith injured earlier in the season (which did not result in any missed time). Smith did not practice Wednesday but was back in practice Thursday. Jim Schwartz went to the trouble of explaining that the workload split in Sunday's game between Smith and Morris was a result of that shoulder injury, but that Smith is the Lions' "workhorse running back, getting most of the carries." So it appears that if Smith is able to go, he certainly will. The Lions have tended to earmark their injured players as game-time decisions, so expect Smith to fall into that category as well. If he practices again Friday, it would certainly support the notion that he will start.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: After a few weeks of doing little or nothing in practice, Johnson has returned to increased practice activity this week. Johnson reportedly moved well in practice, but the Lions remain noncommittal about his availability in Week 9. The fact that Johnson is appearing in back-to-back practices on Wednesday and Thursday is already more encouraging than anything he has done since the injury. The Lions clearly need him on the field not only to provide the obvious target for quarterback Matthew Stafford, but also to force opposing defenses to respond to him. That said, they do not want him to be at risk for something more significant in terms of injury. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that coach Jim Schwartz says Johnson's availability will likely be a game-time decision (not surprising as this has been the case before) but this is an early game so fantasy owners can take some consolation there.

Anthony Gonzalez
David Stluka/Getty ImagesAnthony Gonzalez has spent way too much time on the sidelines for most fantasy owners to have faith in him.
Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts: Wayne had a good game in Week 8 despite a recently strained groin and was back in practice Wednesday (and off the injury report). Wayne has a good history against the Houston Texans and it certainly looks as if he will be starting against them this week.

Meanwhile, Anthony Gonzalez is not any closer to returning to the field. Gonzalez sprained his knee (PCL) early in the season and was originally projected back after the team's bye but has not yet been able to even participate in practice. Gonzalez did not take part in team drills Wednesday and is seeking outside consultation for his injured knee.



According to Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell is not sure as to exactly where Gonzalez stands in his recovery. Says Caldwell, "I know he's trying to get to the point where he feels like he can function at his normal level. He is not there yet. How long that takes him just depends. I know he's taken a look at it and getting some more opinions and things of that nature and moving forward."

At this point, fantasy owners who were still holding out hope for Gonzalez need to relinquish the space on their bench and find an alternate player who can contribute now. While Gonzalez may yet return this season, there are still too many question marks as to if and when that will be, not to mention how he will perform.

Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: His status is becoming "iffier" by the day. Boldin, who has acknowledged that he does not expect his ankle to be 100 percent healthy, did not practice Wednesday and there seems to be some momentum building toward resting Boldin for a week to afford the ankle some opportunity to heal. While it's unlikely that one week will allow the ankle to recover completely, it certainly could go a long way toward improving his chances of making it through a full game.



Boldin has played the past two weeks despite the injury but has struggled after the first half. According to the Cardinals' official Web site, coach Ken Whisenhunt is evaluating the situation and insists, "We always try to make the decision that's in the best interest of the team." Fantasy owners think it would be in their best interest to find out before game time, especially since the past two weeks have resulted in frustration. At least the Cardinals play early this week, but it's fair to say that unless Boldin makes a miraculous recovery, it certainly seems as if the team is leaning toward sidelining him for Week 9.

Mario Manningham, New York Giants: Manningham sat out Week 8 after injuring his shoulder in practice late last week. The good news is that he's been back in practice this week and looks as if he will be available Sunday.

Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers: Driver suffered a stinger in Sunday's game but early indications were that it was not serious and that he would play in Week 9. It is a bit concerning that Driver did not practice Wednesday or, apparently, Thursday. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Driver was on the field but not in pads during the portion of practice open to the media. It certainly could be the case that the team is being cautious with Driver and avoiding any contact during the week. So far there is no indication that his status for Sunday is in doubt, but Friday's practice should yield more clues.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11:00 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pre-game (10-10:30 a.m.). And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last minute inactives, rankings and more!



There was a collective sense of mourning among fantasy owners of Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels when he went down Sunday with a season-ending knee injury. Daniels, who had been having a tremendous season, tore his right ACL when his foot reportedly caught in the Ralph Wilson Stadium turf during the Texans' win over the Bills. As is typical, Daniels will have surgery in approximately two weeks once the swelling has had a chance to subside and he approaches full range of motion. In the meantime, Daniels' owners will hit the waiver wire and work the trade market this week to seek a replacement. It will be tough to replace Daniels' production, but forge ahead we must, as a lot of time remains to jostle for fantasy playoff spots.

So whom else must fantasy owners be concerned about when it comes to injuries? We take a look at what we know so far in the wake of Week 8 ...

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin started Sunday's game as expected, but an aggravation of his right ankle injury forced him to leave midway through the third quarter. This was the second week in a row when Boldin's ankle impaired his ability to contribute in the second half, and the Cardinals must decide whether to hold him back for a week to allow the ankle to heal further. For Boldin's part, he says as long as he can run and cut, he expects to be on the field whether he's 100 percent healthy or not. Remember, this guy returned undaunted after suffering multiple facial fractures last season, so we should not expect any less. The Cardinals, while no doubt admiring Boldin's eagerness to be on the field, need to evaluate whether continued setbacks such as this one are worth it in the big scheme of things.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt told The Arizona Republic that sitting Boldin a week and allowing him some additional recovery time would be an option. Whisenhunt indicated that Boldin's performance would be evaluated as the week progresses, which seems to be a familiar tune. Earlier this season his status was questionable for a couple of weeks because of a hamstring injury. Although he has not yet missed a game this year, he clearly has not been at full capacity on several occasions.

It was Boldin who indicated in the days after his ankle injury that he had suffered a high ankle sprain, which typically takes longer to heal than a standard lateral ankle sprain as it is. Even if, as Coach Whisenhunt suggested, the degree of injury has not increased, the ongoing setbacks ultimately may prevent Boldin from returning to full performance as quickly as he otherwise might.

It's definitely a challenging question: Do you play an athlete who is still recovering in the hope that he can contribute some and maybe last the majority of the game? Or do you rest him for a week and hope that the value of the performance goes up in subsequent weeks and the risk of setback goes down? This is perhaps what the Cardinals will be considering this week when it comes to Boldin's status. Fantasy owners are just hoping for an answer before game time, although thankfully the Cards play the Bears in the early slate of Sunday's games. Stay tuned.

Brian Westbrook
Cliff Welch/Icon SMIBrian Westbrook has already missed two games this season, and has seen fewer than 10 touches in two of his past contests.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook missed Week 8 as he recovered from a concussion suffered the previous Monday night. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Westbrook will return to full practice Wednesday after undergoing some exercise testing.

Once Westbrook rejoins practice, he will continue to be monitored for any return of symptoms. Only after Westbrook has met all the targets of no symptoms at rest, no symptoms with activity and normal cognitive function (these tests are compared to preseason baseline tests) and medical clearance has been granted, would he be available to play in a game. That quite possibly could be this weekend, but there is no true predictive measure for a return from a concussion. Fantasy owners will have to wait patiently for updates from the team, but based on Westbrook's progress thus far, the signs are encouraging.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: Johnson did not play Sunday, and based on his limited activity during the week (after a bye), it really did not come as a huge surprise. All fantasy owners want to know is, will it be this weekend that he returns? The Lions are still calling him day-to-day, and all coach Jim Schwartz would reveal is that "he's getting closer," according to the Detroit Free Press. Without divulging the specifics of Johnson's injury, it's nearly impossible to predict what his time line for return normally would be. So we consider his activity as our best indicator.

Johnson did return to limited practice Thursday and Friday (although reportedly less Friday than Thursday), which was an improvement over the previous weeks. That said, the nature of what Johnson needs to do on the field and his athletic and acrobatic style demands that he be close to full strength. A receiver trying to play cautiously could be a recipe for further injury. When Johnson shows he can run full speed and participate in a significant portion of practice, it will at least provide a clue that he is nearing return.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina Panthers: On Sunday, Delhomme took quite a hit to the chest, which ended up sending him to the hospital for tests. According to The Charlotte Observer, Delhomme said about the hit, "I couldn't catch my breath, and I felt like it was my sternum." Indeed, his sternum (breastbone) and everything underneath it underwent a CT scan during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, but Delhomme said afterward that everything was fine and he expects to play Sunday in New Orleans. Sternal injuries are much like rib injuries in terms of the intensity of pain as well as the motions that tend to aggravate them. It likely will be uncomfortable for Delhomme to take deep breaths for a while and may be difficult to make deep throws. The Panthers will have to see how he tolerates activity to determine his readiness to play, but the absence of a fracture and no internal organ damage (lung, spleen) are certainly positive signs. So was an interception-free performance.

Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo Bills: The Buffalo News is reporting that Edwards is expected to return as quarterback for the Bills in Week 10. Naturally, projections of his return are accompanied by the standard caveat, "barring any setbacks," as Edwards increases his activity after his recent concussion. Buffalo is on bye this week, so fantasy owners should be sure to fill in their rosters accordingly, but it appears that Fitzpatrick becomes (even more) droppable.

Other quick hits: Willie Parker missed practice Monday because of illness. The Steelers won't play until Monday night, so this does not appear to be a major concern.

Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown missed Week 8 because of his shoulder injury and is no lock to be available for Week 9.

New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss told the Newark Star-Ledger that his ankle (which caused him to miss a week earlier in the season) was "tender" after Sunday's game but not nearly as bad as the original injury. He expects to play this week. We'll see what he does in practice.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has two sore feet after Sunday's loss to the Vikings, but coach Mike McCarthy indicated that he is expected to play this week, even if his practice is limited.

Indianapolis Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez does not appear to be be making a return to the field this week. He has yet to return to practice. Even if he does begin to practice with the team this week, it seems unlikely he would get back in a game situation after only a few days.

The Raiders have a bye in Week 9 but are hoping to get running back Darren McFadden back in Week 10. McFadden began doing some side work with one of the team's athletic trainers, according to the Oakland Tribune. McFadden says he was working on cuts, and that his target is a Nov. 15 return. He still must clear a number of hurdles before playing in a game situation, including consecutive workouts and practice sessions without swelling. Stay tuned.

New England Patriots running back Sammy Morris did not practice Tuesday, nor did he practice the entire bye week. Although the Patriots have not provided any details about the nature of Morris' injury, the fact that he is not practicing at all yet suggests Laurence Maroney is likely to remain the starter this week.

More to come in Thursday's blog ...

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10-10:30 a.m.), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 9 in the Saturday morning blog!



We're just about halfway through the season and it's a key time for fantasy football teams to rally. Almost every team, no matter how poor the performance has been so far, has a shot to make the playoffs. So for those of you struggling out there, don't give up! Go make some trades, hit the waiver wire, dodge the injured players (and right now this may be the biggest challenge) and get your team back in it!

Once again there are six teams on bye this week -- Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins -- so fantasy owners continue to scramble to find worthy replacements.



Here are some status updates to help you shape your roster as we look ahead to Week 8.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Last time we were discussing Stafford, there was some question as to whether he was getting a second opinion on his ailing right knee. No matter what happened in the background, Stafford has continued with a conservative treatment approach and returned to practice on a limited basis with his team this week. The good news here is that he has been able to practice three days in a row. When Stafford tested his knee in light practice two weeks ago, his knee did not respond favorably and he could not practice the following day. If Stafford continues to practice daily and is able to increase his activity through the remainder of the week, there is a good chance that he will return as the starter when the Lions host the St. Louis Rams this weekend.



The biggest challenge following a patellar subluxation (Stafford's reported injury) is regaining adequate quadriceps strength to allow normal mobility while minimizing swelling. The two go hand in hand as swelling around the kneecap will effectively shut down the function of the quadriceps muscle. Stafford, even if he plays, may not yet be at full strength, which may be reflected in his overall mobility. As long as he is mobile enough to protect himself and make plays and as long as he is not regressing in response to activity, it seems likely that he will be back under center.

Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills: Edwards is still on the mend from his concussion, although he did make a return to some limited practice Wednesday. The Bills are planning to have Ryan Fitzpatrick start and have indicated that Edwards will not even dress as the emergency quarterback. The Bills have a bye in Week 9, so this will extend Edwards' opportunity to recover. Whether he returns as the starter after that point remains uncertain.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers again appears on the injury practice report this week because of a sprained foot that continues to cause him some discomfort with certain movements. Obviously the foot did not limit him in last week's contest and the expectation is that he will start against the Minnesota Vikings this week. The team is no doubt limiting his practice time to ensure that the condition does not worsen in advance of the game. Fantasy owners can count on him playing on Sunday, as if there were really ever any doubt.

Eli Manning, New York Giants: Manning is worth including here simply for the fact he has been removed from the Giants' injury report and he has returned to full practice with the team. Manning, despite some offensive struggles, has maintained that his foot has been improving over the past few weeks, which is a credit to how the team's medical staff has helped him manage his plantar fasciitis. While it is perhaps too optimistic to say the condition is entirely behind him (there is always the possibility that it can flare up again at some point), this is certainly encouraging news. It also removes any questions about his status as a starter for this week.

Running backs

Brian Westbrook
Geoff Burke/US PresswireThe Eagles will take great caution with Brian Westbrook's concussion.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook has not practiced this week since suffering a concussion Monday night and is looking doubtful to rejoin the team for Sunday's big divisional matchup against the New York Giants. While Westbrook's status is being evaluated daily and the team has not yet ruled him out, they are certainly going to use every precaution when determining his availability. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Westbrook still reported headache symptoms Wednesday, and as is protocol, will not be cleared to exercise until all of his symptoms resolve. Once he resumes aerobic exercise, he will continue to be monitored for any return of symptoms. If all goes well, his activity will be progressed accordingly.

Philadelphia head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder serves on the NFL concussion committee and provided some excellent insight as to how players are managed following a concussion. Burkholder told the Daily News that once Westbrook's symptoms clear, his response to exercise will be monitored and his cognitive testing scores will need to return to baseline levels. Perhaps most importantly, Burkholder reiterated a couple of very important points. First, the loss of consciousness that Westbrook suffered is not the determinant of whether or not he will play this week, but, as Burkholder points out, his status is "really based on the symptoms." Concussions can occur without loss of consciousness and that factor alone does not provide an estimate as to how significant the injury actually is. It is truly in retrospect, based on how the athlete recovers from such an incident, that a level of seriousness can be established.

This serves as an important reminder that all concussions are brain injuries and, as such, warrant serious treatment. There is no "toughness" meter on an athlete when it comes to return to play following such an injury; it is a medical decision based on a collective measure of the aforementioned factors. While Westbrook has shown time and again that he can perform well despite the presence of various joint ailments, this injury simply does not fall into the same category. At this point fantasy owners should prepare for LeSean McCoy to see the majority of the action against the Giants.



Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants: By now fantasy owners have noticed a pattern with Bradshaw, limited practice early in the week followed by showing up and playing well on Sunday. In this column, we have talked about Bradshaw's ongoing management of an ankle injury that he has dealt with since his college days, but that ankle injury has been compounded by a foot injury he sustained earlier this year.

This week that foot injury resulted in a visit to North Carolina to consult with Dr. Robert Anderson, one of the country's leading foot and ankle specialists and a team physician for the Carolina Panthers. The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Bradshaw announced that he has a crack in the fifth metatarsal (the long bone of the forefoot that connects to the base of the pinkie toe) of his right foot. The crack was not a new discovery (Bradshaw indicates that X-rays about a month ago revealed the crack, which he reportedly injured in March); the important result of the consultation was support of Bradshaw's current treatment plan. Bradshaw has been in a walking boot during much of the week, then sheds the boot for Friday practice and game time.



There is always the risk that the crack becomes a complete fracture (where the bone breaks all the way through), but that risk is no greater now than it has been since the injury occurred. That no doubt was a consideration in determining that Bradshaw could continue to play. If it takes a turn for the worse, then Bradshaw will require immediate surgery. If it continues as is, then Bradshaw can continue with the current routine and will likely face the prospect of surgery at the end of the season. Fifth metatarsal fractures are not uncommon in athletes, given all the stress placed on the outside of the foot with running, pivoting and cutting. Many athletes have surgery and go on to a complete and uneventful recovery, so ultimately this should not be a huge issue for Bradshaw. Based on how he has managed so far, fantasy owners should continue to expect the same production out of Bradshaw and hope that he is able to proceed without a setback.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts: At this point, Brown's shoulder appears as if it will keep him sidelined this weekend when the Colts host the San Francisco 49ers. Team president Bill Polian has already said that he does not expect Brown to play this week. Brown suffered what the team called a very painful left shoulder contusion and has since been referred to as a sprain. Brown told the Indianapolis Star earlier in the week that he had dealt with this injury previously in college. Despite Brown's optimism that he would return to practice Wednesday, that clearly did not happen and it does not seem that he will be ready to take the field. Early in the week, Polian hinted at this when he spoke on his radio show about running back Mike Hart "playing a big role" if Brown were to be out. As of now, fantasy owners should expect the Colts' running back one-two punch to be Joseph Addai and Hart.

Wide receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Johnson's right knee has benefited from an additional week of rest and the early murmurings are that he will return this weekend. Johnson did not practice early in the week, which suggests that he is not fully healed from his injury (the specifics of which have not been disclosed by the team). He did, however, do some side work on those days and was then able to return to at least some level of practice Thursday. Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com reported that Johnson was participating in some drills during the portion of practice open to the media Thursday and did not appear "hobbled" by his knee while running routes and catching passes. As always, the next step is assessing his response to activity. If Johnson is back in practice Friday, it is a good sign that the Lions plan to have him on the field Sunday against the struggling St. Louis Rams' pass defense.



Reggie Wayne and Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts: Despite suffering a strained groin in Week 7, Wayne hopes to be able to play this week against the San Francisco 49ers. He did not practice Wednesday, but that was expected. If he does practice this week, it may be on a limited basis so as not to risk exacerbating the strain, in the hopes that he can run full speed when Sunday comes. There is a good chance that his availability will not be determined until Saturday.



As far as Gonzalez goes, he has yet to return to team practice and is not expected to play this weekend. It is worth watching to see if Gonzalez can get some light practice in before the week is through and if he responds well, it may signal that a return is possible in Week 9. It is too early to count on that by any means, so fantasy owners should continue to plan accordingly.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Johnson is not lacking confidence in his ability to return this week, telling the Houston Chronicle, "I feel like I'll be out there unless they cut my leg off." Johnson was held out of practice Wednesday but was able to do some running, telling reporters that his breathing felt normal. Johnson then returned to practice Thursday, and coach Gary Kubiak told the Texans' official Web site that he took "probably pretty close to almost all the reps he normally takes and didn't seem to have any problems." Johnson will have some follow-up tests to ensure that his bruised lung is healing and potentially he may have to wear some extra padding if he does suit up Sunday. Johnson summed up the primary concern when he told the Chronicle, "I think they're scared of me taking another hit in that spot." The fact Johnson is not having pain and is already practicing at a high level is certainly encouraging and if all continues well, it looks as if he could be available Sunday.

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: After an outstanding first-half performance Monday night, Jackson was limited in the second half with a foot sprain. He did not practice Wednesday but did return to some level of practice Thursday. The fact Jackson was able to continue to play Monday night after the injury, even on a limited basis, was a good sign. Returning to practice Thursday is an even better one. Fantasy owners should expect that he will be in the lineup to face the New York Giants this weekend.

Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith and David Clowney, New York Jets: Wow. Three of four primary receivers for the Jets are on the practice injury report this week. So who will be out there Sunday when the Jets host the Miami Dolphins? For starters, Cotchery's strained hamstring that caused him to miss Weeks 6 and 7 looks as if it will not keep him out in Week 8. Cotchery returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis and looked "sharp" in the portion of practice open to the media, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. We know from past experience that return to full speed is a gradual progression following a significant muscle strain, but there are good early signs that Cotchery will be available this weekend.



Teammate Brad Smith, who has been nursing a strained quad, was also back in practice on a limited basis this week. The team has not given many hints as to Smith's status, but we should have a better idea after Friday's practice. Meanwhile Clowney, who has had the opportunity to start opposite Braylon Edwards while Cotchery and Smith have been hurt, came out of Week 7 with his own ankle injury. Clowney did not practice Wednesday but did return Thursday, making it appear as if he will be available Sunday.

Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: Berrian strained his left hamstring in Week 7 and did not practice Wednesday. Berrian missed some preseason time with a right hamstring injury and it seemed to hamper his development as a target for Brett Favre. Sidney Rice was the beneficiary and has been clearly the more productive deep receiver for the Vikings. Even if Berrian proves well enough to play this weekend, it's hard to imagine those roles changing much.

Harvin has been challenged by a shoulder injury but it hasn't seemed to affect his ability to have an impact on the field. The good news for the Vikings is that Harvin is off the injury report this week meaning there is no doubt he will be on the field when the Vikings visit the Green Bay Packers.

Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin was limping by the second half of last week's game as his right ankle sprain clearly became problematic. Boldin was limited in practice Wednesday but if he played last week there's no reason to think he'll be out this week, unless his ankle takes a turn for the worse.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11:00 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pre-game (10:00-10:30 a.m.). And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last minute inactives, rankings and more!



Lots of teams are getting some rest this week, and they have to be looking forward to it. The Detroit Lions have ailing quarterbacks and receivers, the Seattle Seahawks have hurt offensive and defensive linemen, and the Tennessee Titans ... well, they just need a break.

This week six teams are on bye -- the Lions, Seahawks, Titans, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens -- so fantasy owners need to hustle to fill those empty roster spots.



Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 7.

Quarterbacks

Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills: I know that not many fantasy owners were looking at Edwards as a bye-week replacement anyway, given the season he's had so far. But just in case you were contemplating it, don't. Edwards suffered a concussion in Week 6 and was not at practice Wednesday. This is his second concussion in just more than a year and he will be monitored for his recovery in terms of both symptoms and cognition (brain processing). It sounds as if the Bills are preparing Ryan Fitzpatrick for a likely Sunday start against the Carolina Panthers.

Running backs

Willie Parker
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesWillie Parker's toe is getting better, but now he's lost his starting job.
Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers: This week, coach Mike Tomlin indicated that Mendenhall has passed Parker on the running back depth chart. Parker has been dealing with a case of turf toe, and although he sported some supportive new shoes when he played last week, he has not done enough to maintain the starting position. As far as his toe goes, Parker did not appear to emerge from Sunday's contest any worse for wear, and he is back in practice to start the week. Meanwhile, newly anointed starter Mendenhall sustained a knee bruise in Sunday's game that relegated him to limited work Wednesday. The good news for Mendenhall fantasy owners is that this is not expected to keep him out of this week's matchup.



Marion Barber and Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys: Barber has no doubt benefited from the bye week to further the healing of his strained quadriceps muscle. He did not, however, benefit from the hit he took against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. Barber thought he had just jammed his left thumb, but upon further review, it turns out he suffered a fracture. He has been outfitted with a cast, according to the Cowboys' official Web site. However, the injury has not affected his ability to practice, nor will it affect his availability for Sunday. Barber carries the ball predominantly with his right hand, so it should not affect his ball control on the run. It may be more challenging to catch a pass out of the backfield, however, so that option may be diminished.

Jones has been on the mend from a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) sprain and until this week has not practiced. He was back in limited work Monday and in full practice Wednesday, wearing a knee brace for support. According to the Cowboys' official Web site, Jones credited the team's athletic training staff with helping him get back to practice and reported only soreness after his return. PCL injuries can often be challenging to recover from, but the difficulty varies depending on the degree of damage to the ligament. The athlete is often left with some residual instability, which often shows up for a running back during sharp deceleration or change in direction. The brace provides additional support behind the knee to help control motion of the lower leg (tibia) relative to the thigh (femur). Jones has indicated that he likely will wear the brace if he plays Sunday (which he currently expects to do). It will be important to see how Jones' knee holds up after a full week of practice to gauge just how much action he's likely to see. After all, team owner Jerry Jones already announced on his weekly radio show that Tashard Choice is "going to get a big part of the load."

The good news for Dallas is bad news for fantasy owners. They have three backs who are likely to see playing time, but the division of labor is unclear at this point. At this point it seems to be shaping up as predominantly Barber and Choice with a sprinkling of Jones. Stay tuned for Saturday's update.

Wide receivers

Roy E. Williams, Dallas Cowboys: Williams has been back in practice this week after missing Week 5 (and resting during the bye week) because of bruised ribs. Williams also reportedly suffered cartilage damage in the area, which can be slow to heal. The good news is that it appears that Williams is responding well to practice and plans to play Sunday. The unknown factor is how he will feel absorbing contact, especially if he takes a shot to the previously injured area.

Anquan Boldin
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireAnquan Boldin has already called himself a gametime decision for Sunday, not a great sign.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin is already referring to himself as a game-time decision, which is not great news for fantasy owners. Boldin, who suffered an ankle sprain in Week 6, did not practice Wednesday and told the Arizona Republic that his status is "up in the air." Boldin has been limited by soft-tissue injuries in the past, and teammate Steve Breaston has shown that he is capable of stepping up. Arizona does not play until Sunday night, so barring any major turnaround by Friday, fantasy owners should make plans to have a substitute for Boldin.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: Harvin was limited in practice Wednesday as a result of his sore shoulder, which he aggravated during Sunday's game. Last week Harvin was limited throughout the week, played, but then suffered a setback which clearly caused him a great deal of pain. His availability for this week is unclear.

Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets: Cotchery's strained hamstring kept him out of Week 6 action and may keep him sidelined again. On Wednesday, Cotchery did not participate in practice (only individual drills) and was non-committal about his potential availability for Sunday. If he is not running full speed by the end of the week, fantasy owners should be concerned.

Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams: Avery has a bruised hip that kept him out of Wednesday practice. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the hip tightened up on him, so the team limited him to conditioning work on the side. The hope is that he will be able to return to practice late in the week and be available for Sunday. At this point, his status is day-to-day.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury-report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.). And check out "Fantasy Football Now" on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. EST to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!



This past weekend was tough for linemen. Several teams suffered big losses up front on defense, perhaps most notably those in Cincinnati and New York. The Cincinnati Bengals lost defensive end Antwan Odom to a ruptured right Achilles tendon. Odom had had some problems with the Achilles during the preseason, and it appears those symptoms were a precursor to the tendon's ultimate failure. He had surgery Monday to repair the Achilles and faces a long rehabilitation process but should be ready for next season. The New York Jets' vaunted defense may have gone down several notches when its star defensive tackle, Kris Jenkins, went down with a left ACL tear. Jenkins also faces surgery and a lengthy rehab, but he, too, should be ready for next season. Jenkins has been through this process before with his right knee, so he knows exactly what to expect.

But what are fantasy owners to expect from their injured players? Here's what we're looking at so far after Week 6:

Anquan Boldin
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesAnquan Boldin was held to just 54 yards receiving on Sunday, partly due to his ankle injury.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin suffered a right ankle sprain Sunday that forced him out of the game early. The Cardinals' official Web site reports that Boldin left the game early only to help his chances of being available for Week 7, not because he couldn't continue, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt.



That's an interesting slant, especially when it's unclear whether Boldin will indeed be ready to play Sunday. In any case, Boldin had X-rays taken of the ankle, which showed no fracture, so it will come down to just how well he can perform throughout the week. Boldin certainly has dealt with his share of soft tissue injuries. At least so far, this latest ailment does not appear particularly serious.



Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Harvin already was dealing with a sore shoulder heading into Week 6, and let's just say it's not feeling any better. Harvin, who suffered a shoulder injury in Week 5, did not practice Wednesday but was able to increase his activity Thursday and Friday. His questionable designation heading into Sunday's contest reflected the fact that he was not yet fully recovered.



The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Harvin then suffered a setback during a fourth-quarter kickoff return on Sunday. Although Vikings coach Brad Childress later told reporters that X-rays revealed "nothing extra in there," the sight of Harvin sporting a sling on his left arm after the game was not a positive. The Vikings have not offered any specifics as to the nature of Harvin's injury, but there is some early concern about his potential availability for this week's matchup against Pittsburgh.

Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams: Injuries have not been kind to Avery. He suffered a stress fracture in his foot in August, causing him to miss a couple of weeks of preseason action. Avery was able to recover more quickly than expected and managed to play in the Rams' season opener. A series of minor ailments (bruised ribs, hamstring strain) nagged at him, although nothing kept him off the field on Sundays. In Week 5, Avery was at his best for the season and looked to have put the injuries behind him. Then came Week 6.

Avery left Sunday's game with a left hip injury and had to be concerned based on past experience. Last season, Avery had a stress fracture in the same hip that forced him to miss most of training camp. The good news is that an MRI on Avery's hip reportedly turned out normal, and he is dealing with a bruise. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is calling Avery's status day-to-day and adds that Avery is eager to get back out on the practice field. We will see what he's able to do as the week goes on.

Sammy Morris, RB, New England Patriots: There has not been much in the way of specifics out of New England about Morris' health. We do know he left Sunday's snowy contest in the first quarter with a leg injury. The Boston Globe reports that Patriots coach Bill Belichick says the team will do "like we normally do, and assess his availability for practice and ultimately at the end of the week for the following game." That translates into a daily practice situation, meaning fantasy owners likely will not have anything definitive until late in the week.



Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo Bills: Edwards suffered his second concussion in two years on Sunday and was forced out of the game against the Jets in the second quarter. According to the Bills' official Web site, coach Dick Jauron did not offer a prognosis on Edwards, but based on what we know about concussions, that is a virtually impossible task. Concussion recovery is assessed on a daily basis, and until Edwards improves enough to return to physical activity, the team cannot even begin to consider his availability for Week 7. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Other quick hits:

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson feels good after tweaking his ankle. Coach Brad Childress told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Peterson is dealing with "overall body soreness," so it doesn't appear that anyone in the Vikings' organization is terribly concerned.

New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham hurt his back during Sunday's game, and that led to Hakeem Nicks seeing more playing time. Manningham told the Newark Star-Ledger that the injury is not serious.

Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White was carted off with a knee injury but was seen leaving the facility without crutches, according to the Nashville Tennessean.



Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones and wide receiver Roy E. Williams were back in practice Monday after sitting out during the team's bye week. Both expect to play this week, but it is worth keeping an eye on them in practice to see just how much they can do.



See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10-10:30 a.m.), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 7 in the Saturday morning blog.



It's time for fantasy owners to make those midweek moves to boost their fantasy rosters. Injury concerns naturally factor into those decisions as we try to gauge who is going to miss time and just how long that absence will be. Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 3.

Quarterbacks

Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles: McNabb has yet to practice since fracturing his rib in Week 1 and it appears that Kevin Kolb may be in line for his second start. Although the Eagles have not ruled McNabb out, it certainly seems as if he could rest this week, especially with a bye coming up next week. It's worth noting that they also have Jeff Garcia available and, as of this week, Michael Vick.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: Hasselbeck suffered a broken rib in the Seahawks' Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. According to Associated Press reports, the rib Hasselbeck injured is in the upper back area, causing pain in his shoulder. Although the pain can be equally severe no matter which rib is broken, the abdominal muscles attach only to the lower ribs (where McNabb suffered his injury), so it's possible that the injury might not hamper Hasselbeck's throwing ability to the same degree.

Hasselbeck did not practice Wednesday and might not practice all week, but coach Jim Mora told the Tacoma News Tribune that missing practice would not prevent his starter from playing Sunday. "This is a guy who can pick things up without having to do the repetitions on the field," Mora said. However, he was quick to add that "the key thing is what's best for Matt's health and for this football team in terms of long-term success." The Seahawks are preparing Seneca Wallace to start, and fantasy owners should keep that in mind.

Running Backs

Marion Barber
Kim Klement/US PresswireMarion Barber has rushed for 203 yards and two TDs this season, so a cut in playing time would hurt fantasy owners.
Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys: Barber strained his left quadriceps muscle (large muscle on the front of the thigh) on a long run in Sunday's game. An early report had Barber missing one to two weeks, but the Cowboys have not ruled Barber out for Week 3. In fact, Barber surprised many by participating in practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis. He was reportedly catching some passes and jogging lightly. Although this early activity is a very good sign, it is a far cry from what Barber needs to do to perform in a game. Despite the fact that the Cowboys have a Monday night game, giving Barber an additional day of healing time, it is still unlikely that his muscle will have fully recovered by then. The big concern with soft tissue injuries is that overloading still healing tissue will result in more severe injury, and ultimately more missed time. In other words, we will track Barber's progress throughout the week but even if Barber does make an appearance, expect Felix Jones and Tashard Choice to get the bulk of the work.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: Uh-oh. The appearance of Peterson on Wednesday's injury report is enough to strike fear in the hearts of fantasy owners who have no doubt been riding his Week 1 and 2 performances to victory. Peterson was limited in practice because of his back (which might just be a result of fatigue from the physical workload he's been carrying), but it is too early to panic. After all, he has missed only two games in two years. This is something to keep an eye on, though, as the week progresses.



LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers: Tomlinson missed Week 2 because of a sprained ankle, which he has suggested is minor. Nonetheless, Tomlinson did not practice Wednesday. He likely will attempt to get back into practice during the latter part of the week to test the ankle. Tomlinson was ruled out early last week, but this week might come down to a game-time decision.

Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell, New Orleans Saints: Not only do they play the same position, they suffer the same injuries. Bell came out of Week 2 with a sprained right MCL, but early indications are that the injury was not serious. It might have been a minor sprain, but it was still enough to keep Bell out of practice Wednesday. Thomas, who suffered a more serious version of the same sprain in the preseason, is on the upswing and the roles of the two running backs may well be reversed this week. Thomas saw some (very limited) game action in Week 2 but, most importantly, emerged no worse for the wear. Thomas was a full participant in Wednesday practice and is expected to increase his workload in Week 3. The timing might be perfect to allow Bell to either sit this week out or at least limit his activity.

Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook's sprained right ankle (his surgically repaired ankle) kept him out of practice Wednesday. This pattern of resting during the week and playing on Sunday is so familiar to owners that it's almost automatic. While it's too early to say that Westbrook will play for sure, it would not come as a surprise. And while this ankle injury has not been deemed serious, it is probably an indicator of the ongoing challenge Westbrook will face when it comes to maintaining the health of his joints.

Jamal Lewis
Icon SMIEven if Jamal Lewis were healthy, he's not a great option to start as he faces the Ravens.
Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns: Lewis missed practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that Lewis likely will be listed as questionable when Friday's reports come out. It is hard to imagine Lewis not suiting up if at all possible, given that he will be facing the Baltimore Ravens. There is backup available. Rookie James Davis, who sat out Week 2 with a shoulder injury sustained during the season opener, did return to practice Wednesday and is expected to play.

Wide Receivers

Kevin Walter, Houston Texans: Walter missed Week 1 after pregame warm-ups made it clear that he could not go full speed. The following week everyone, including Walter, was upbeat about his chances of playing in Week 2. But after a full practice that Wednesday, Walter's hamstring did not respond well. He was limited in practice the remainder of the week and then could not play Sunday. Unfortunately, this is often how it goes with muscle strains. The athlete's perception as to how the muscle feels is the biggest determinant of how hard to push it in practice and competition. It is often the case that the very work the athlete needs to do to test the muscle can result in a setback, and it appears that was the case with Walter.

So how is this week shaping up? Walter started the week limited in practice and there are no declarations of his availability just yet. Assume that the Texans will have Walter gradually increase his work through the week in the hopes that he can be available Sunday. This might again come down to a game-time decision.

Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin has been steadily improving from the hamstring injury that limited him in the preseason and was much more of a factor in the Cardinals' Week 2 contest than in the season opener. The good news is that Boldin was a full participant in practice as of Wednesday, and at least at this stage, it appears the worst is behind him. Meanwhile, teammate Early Doucet, who had been sidelined with a rib injury, was also a full participant in Wednesday's practice and should be available this week. Steve Breaston, who has been recovering from a sprained PCL, was able to contribute in Week 2, so despite not practicing Wednesday, it is expected that he too will be available in Week 3.

Deion Branch, Seattle Seahawks: After missing the first two games this season, Branch, who over the larger part of the past two years has dealt with injuries including an ACL reconstruction, a heel bruise and the hamstring, appears to be in line to make his season debut. Branch was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and coach Jim Mora told the Tacoma News Tribune that he expects Branch to play this week. It's worth keeping an eye on the receiver situation since Branch's teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh missed Wednesday practice because of a sore back. The back was bothering Houshmandzadeh last week but he did play Sunday.



Be sure to check my Saturday blog for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, 11:00 a.m.-noon; Friday, 11 a.m.-noon; and Sunday pregame, 10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.). And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!

The injuries are mounting quickly, so let's get right to 'em:

Quarterbacks

Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles: On Tuesday, I outlined McNabb's rib injury and the challenges he would face in attempting to play. The information we since have learned further supports the prediction that he will be on the sideline this week. ESPN NFC East blogger Matt Mosley reported the details of McNabb's injury that coach Andy Reid outlined in his news conference. Reid described McNabb's fracture as one in which the bone was broken "all the way through."

Donovan McNabb
Bob Donnan/US PresswireThe Eagles haven't ruled out Donovan McNabb for Week 2, but he's looking doubtful.
This is an important distinction when it comes to fractures, because if it were just a crack or a stress fracture (in which there would be evidence of injury to the bone but not a complete separation), the healing time might be quicker. But when the bone is broken all the way through, it is essential to minimize movement in the area so the two ends can bridge together and heal. Since a rib cannot be effectively casted, the athlete must limit movement, including muscle contraction, to help protect the rib. As the doctors treating McNabb told Reid, the rib "has to get sticky." This stickiness is an indicator of the tissue healing. Once there is evidence that the two ends are intact enough that they are not moving, the doctors and the Eagles can consider allowing McNabb to increase his activity. Once McNabb is cleared for activity, it becomes an issue of pain tolerance and how effective McNabb can be as a quarterback in the presence of that pain.

Suffice to say that the process undoubtedly will take longer than the few days remaining until game time. Other evidence -- McNabb's not practicing Wednesday, backup Kevin Kolb's taking all the first-team snaps, the Eagles' signing of Jeff Garcia -- supports the notion that McNabb will sit out this week. From that point forward, it becomes a day-to-day assessment. The Eagles were wise to get insurance. Fantasy owners need to do the same thing.

Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: Cassel sat out Week 1 because of his sprained medial collateral ligament, which clearly was still hampering his mobility late in the week and preventing him from full practice. But the Chiefs appeared to be encouraged by Cassel's improved running ability Wednesday and have increased optimism for his availability for Week 2. Coach Todd Haley told reporters that Cassel still did not participate in the entire practice and would not commit to Cassel's being the starter Sunday, but he did acknowledge that Cassel was doing everything he could to get ready.

It appears Cassel might indeed play, especially if he can participate fully in practice by the end of the week. It's reasonable to expect that he will remain braced, just as it's reasonable to expect that the ligament is still healing and that he will not yet be 100 percent. Nonetheless, if he shows he can be effective under center in practice this week, the Chiefs might opt to bring him back.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: Romo had some tests done on his right ankle, including an MRI, this week. According to The Dallas Morning News, the tests came back negative, so it appears all systems are go for Romo on Sunday. He was able to fully participate in practice Wednesday, another positive indicator.

Running backs

LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers: Tomlinson rolled his ankle in Week 1 but managed to play on and off throughout the remainder of the game. After the game, however, it seems Tomlinson's ankle felt a little worse. He did not practice Wednesday and was seen sporting a protective boot on the ankle to minimize motion at the joint. (Editor's Note: LaDainian Tomlinson has now been ruled out for Sunday's game versus the Ravens).

If there's some good news here, it's that Tomlinson says this injury does not begin to compare to the toe and groin injuries he suffered last season, and Tomlinson told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Wednesday that he doesn't expect the injury to sideline him for long, in other words, this does not seem to present long-term concerns. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans for this weekend but shouldn't give up on LT just yet.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: Thomas says he will play this week, and he did participate fully in practice Wednesday for the first time in weeks. Nonetheless, as the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported, his leg was wrapped during practice and he was icing it afterward. Now, both of those things are to be expected as a player returns to practice from this injury, but it does remind us that he is not yet 100 percent recovered. We will track his progress throughout the week, but bear in mind that even if he does play, his touches likely will be limited.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers: Stewart seemed to make it through Sunday's contest just fine despite missing the preseason because of a sore Achilles. The key will be managing this issue over the course of the season since it is not likely to disappear until the season is long over. To that end, Stewart did not practice Wednesday, which appears to be a precautionary maneuver to protect his foot and ankle. Watch Stewart's activity as the week progresses, but expect him to play Sunday.

Wide receivers

Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts: The Indianapolis Star is reporting Gonzalez suffered a posterior cruciate ligament sprain and is expected to miss at least four games; the early goal is for him to return just after the Colts' bye week (which is Oct. 18). There were signs from the outset that this injury was on the serious side. Gonzalez went down untouched, which is not uncommon with the more serious anterior cruciate ligament and PCL sprains. Team president Bill Polian indicated that Gonzalez sprained knee ligaments (as in more than one), and while Polian expressed relief that the injury was not season-ending, this certainly suggested a more complex scenario. If Gonzalez did indeed suffer additional damage, even to another less-significant knee ligament, it further compromises the joint stability and makes it that much tougher to rehab.

We have seen other receivers suffer PCL sprains during the season, and it has hampered their effectiveness, even after their returns (which take, on average, four to six weeks). Houston Texans' receiver Andre Johnson suffered this injury in 2007 and missed seven games. In 2008, Minnesota Vikings' receiver Sidney Rice sprained his PCL and seemed a step slower upon his return.

So why the difficulty? Well, the PCL complements the ACL and contributes to overall joint stability. It is much more complicated to repair and consequently is not always surgically treated, especially if the injury is anything less than a Grade 3 or complete tear. The consensus is that most athletes can be functional once the ligament has scarred in to heal. If problems persist, the athlete might undergo offseason surgery to clean up the area, but in the meantime, he or she tries to play through it. A damaged ligament, however, means the body must compensate for that instability, and it can take extended time, even an offseason, for that to occur. In other words, Gonzalez might be able to return, but whether he can function at the level he was at to start the season is, as of now, unknown.

What does that mean for fantasy owners? Well, Gonzalez will be out for more than a month, so an immediate replacement is in order. But that replacement might be permanent, because not only could Gonzalez's recovery timetable change, but it also remains to be seen how effective he will be when he returns.

Anquan Boldin
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireAnquan Boldin had just 19 yards receiving Sunday.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: It might still be a guessing game when it comes to Boldin's Sunday status. Boldin was active in Week 1, but he did essentially nothing, as predicted. Boldin, who had not participated fully in practice since late August, clearly was not himself, and he notched only two receptions. That said, there might have been some pressure for Boldin to play because Steve Breaston, somewhat surprisingly, could not (apparently, his knee swelled up Sunday morning). Boldin practiced Wednesday, but Breaston was limited to the walk-through, according to the East Valley Tribune, so it does appear Boldin will get the nod. We will keep an eye on practices throughout the week to get a better indicator before Sunday.

Kevin Walter, Houston Texans: Walter, who sat out Week 1 with a hamstring strain, appears good to go in Week 2. He practiced fully Wednesday and indicated he was ready to play. According to the Texans' Web site, coach Gary Kubiak seems to agree with Walter, even adding that the receiver will start. One fewer guess to make leading up to Week 2 games.

Be sure to check my Saturday blog for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

Note: Catch Stephania's injury chats Tuesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon ET, as well as Sundays from 10 to 10:30 a.m. ET. And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last-minute inactive announcements, rankings and more!

Gore to play, but how much?

December, 27, 2008
12/27/08
1:32
PM ET
If you're still in the hunt, there's no doubt that this is THE week for you. Make or break. Do or die. Sink or swim. Fortunately for those of you still playing, most NFL teams have more at stake than the Indianapolis Colts, so at least some starters are worth starting. But not everyone will see a full four quarters of action. Teams are still exercising caution when it comes to injured players, and so should you. Here's how things are shaping up for the week to end all fantasy weeks, Week 17.

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: If Barber is one of your fantasy players, you know the drill by now. Yes, this is a must-win game for the Cowboys. But no, Barber did not do anything exceptional in practice this week to give any more confidence that he is approaching full strength. Barber was still a limited participant throughout the week and is listed as questionable. The Dallas Morning News reports that Barber actually split some reps with Tashard Choice when practicing with the first team. This is a sign of progress. Don't let that fool you, though. Coach Wade Phillips has been hinting throughout the week that Barber is clearly not at full speed and has been wondering aloud whether resting him earlier would have had him healthier sooner. The effect of Barber's still-ailing foot is undeniable; he simply has not been able to push off and cut in his normal fashion. He will be a game-time decision again this week, and will likely be in uniform, just as he has been the past couple of weeks. Choice, however, will continue to carry the bulk of the running game, whereas Barber, if he plays, likely will provide only a limited contribution.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Sure, coach Tom Coughlin wants his starters to stay in the rhythm of the game. He certainly does not favor rhythm over long-term availability, though, and in the interest of ensuring that Jacobs does not take a step backward with his knee, he will protect him. Jacobs is listed as questionable, but he did not participate in Friday's practice and looks as if he will see extremely limited time, if any, on Sunday. Derrick Ward will probably see the majority of the action in the run game for the Giants this weekend.

Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Boss has shaped up to be a decent fantasy tight end option, but don't count on him this week. He is nursing not one but two injuries -- an ankle sprain and a concussion -- and he is listed as doubtful after missing practice all week. Expect the Giants to allow him to sit this one out, as you should on your fantasy team.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Gore has missed the past two weeks of your fantasy playoffs with his sprained ankle. This week he is listed as probable, which, as everyone knows by now, means "virtually certain to play." So you're excited if you're a Gore fantasy owner, right? Well, not so fast. Despite the encouraging status upgrade, Gore has been able to practice only on a limited basis, and according to Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Gore's status remains a game-time decision. Maiocco reports that 49ers coach Mike Singletary says he does not want Gore to play if he is not fully healthy, because he does not want Gore to risk reinjury. In fact, Singletary suggests that the fact Gore is near the 1,000-yard mark for the season will not be a factor. Singletary has already proved himself to be a great motivator, and while I do believe he doesn't want a gimpy Gore on the field Sunday, he also knows how much playing in this season finale means to Gore. Singletary no doubt wants to see more evidence before Sunday that Gore is ready to be on the field. I think he will see that in the pregame warm-ups, and there are already some encouraging signs. Maiocco reported that Gore looked good (not great) running Friday but was able to do some cuts in practice (cuts are one of the more challenging skills for an unstable ankle). I expect Gore will earn his opportunity to play Sunday, but there has to be some concern about how much playing time he will see. Singletary has set the stage for some time-sharing with DeShaun Foster, and assuming Gore does play, it will probably be a limited role.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals: For all the positive projections coach Ken Whisenhunt made earlier in the week about Boldin's Week 17 status, the latter part of the week has taken a different turn. Boldin is again listed as questionable with a sore shoulder, and of most concern, has not participated in practice all week. The Arizona Republic reports that Whisenhunt has said he would like Boldin to see some playing time and that he could play despite not practicing. After last week, the Cardinals need to see some positive play out of their starters heading into the playoffs. But they also need their starters to be available when the playoffs begin. The Cardinals have not issued a specific diagnosis related to Boldin's shoulder, but they have to be concerned enough about his health that he is not taking any reps in practice. Risking Boldin does not make a lot of sense, so even if he does suit up (and he is a game-time decision), he will likely be restricted to limited playing time.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: Lynch is listed as questionable again this week with his sore shoulder and practiced only on a very limited basis. Sure, the Bills are out of playoff contention, but wouldn't it be fun for them to spoil the Patriots' chances? All things considered, it seems as if Lynch, another dreaded game-time decision, will suit up in the team's final effort of the year. Teammate Fred Jackson is likely to get significant opportunities, though, especially after his performance last week. In fact, Jackson may get the heavier workload of the two.

Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: Thomas has been an amazing find for fantasy owners this year. But the year may end a bit prematurely, as Thomas' status for this week is very much in question. Thomas, officially questionable and a game-time decision, was not able to practice all week. With the Saints out of playoff contention and Thomas nursing two injuries (back and wrist), why would the Saints place at risk the player they may view as their new feature back? According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints will give Thomas a chance Sunday morning to see whether he is able to go, but at this point, the odds are not in his favor. Expect Deuce McAllister and Mike Bell to get the touches if Thomas is out.

Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings: Berrian sprained his ankle in last week's contest against the Falcons, and it has limited his practice all week. He is listed as questionable to face the Giants in a game the Vikings need to win. So what should fantasy owners expect? Well, going back to last week, Berrian was able to continue to play despite the injury, which suggests it is not terribly serious. If past performance is any indicator, remember that while Berrian was recovering from a knee sprain earlier this year, he managed to put up some of his best numbers on the year. It is not surprising that the Vikings gave him some rest during the week, and it will not be surprising if he shows up ready to go Sunday.

Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens: Few performances have been gutsier than the ones Mason has put up in recent weeks. Playing with an unstable left shoulder that gets jostled every time he makes contact with another player or hits the ground, Mason has managed to make more big-time one-handed grabs than other big-name receivers with two healthy arms. The Baltimore Sun reported this week that in addition to the instability in the joint itself, Mason has been dealing with intense muscle spasms around the shoulder. This is not an uncommon side effect; the body does anything it can to try to protect an injured joint, usually in the form of muscle spasm or protective guarding. The spasm, or guarding, serves to compensate for the increased laxity or instability of the joint itself by securing the position of the arm. The problem is that not only are spasms painful, but they also don't allow for normal motion, so use of the injured limb (in this case Mason's arm) is awkward and restricted. This problem is not going to resolve itself before the Ravens' season is over. But it does not appear that it will be a problem that keeps Mason off the field, either. Mason, listed as questionable, has indicated that he expects to play against the Jaguars, and based on what he has done so far this season, he seems to be a man of his word. There is another variable to consider, though. If the Patriots lose to Buffalo in their 1 p.m. game, the Ravens, who play at 4:15, will have secured a playoff spot. Although Mason could still suit up for the game, the Ravens might be inclined to limit his playing time in order to protect him from further injury. Just a thought for fantasy owners out there who may want the insurance of a late-game alternative.

OUT: The following players have already been ruled out for Week 17.

Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts: It's a matter of making sure he's healthy when it counts. This game doesn't count, so he'll watch from the sidelines. Expect Joseph Addai to play, but not for long. Chad Simpson and Najeh Davenport will likely divvy up the remaining running back duties.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints: Yet another ankle problem sidelines Shockey. His season is over, and Billy Miller will see more playing time as a result.

Good luck in Week 17! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for the pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

The Colts conundrum

December, 24, 2008
12/24/08
6:30
PM ET


If you're playing this week, you have two big challenges: You have to decide who might be healthy enough to play in this final week of the NFL regular season, then you have to gauge whether the coach will actually utilize that player enough to warrant a spot on your fantasy roster. This represents perhaps the biggest strategic second-guessing you are faced with all season. Hopefully we can help by giving you a few hints in the injury department.

Joseph Addai, RB; Dominic Rhodes, RB; Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: Addai has sat out the past two games to rest his sore shoulder. He has benefited from the rest and Tom James of the Terre Haute Star-Tribune reports that coach Tony Dungy says of Addai, "I think he'll be ready this week." The Colts will monitor how he does in practice, but it looks as if Addai will see playing time, but how much? With your fantasy championship at stake, is he worth a start? Probably not. Even if Addai gets on the field to get some reps, it is unlikely that he plays for an extended period of time. Don't get too excited if you think you've got it made with Dominic Rhodes as your handcuff. Rhodes has already been ruled out of this week's game with sore ribs. Dungy has already indicated that the Colts have some younger players they would like to see get some more game experience. For instance, rookie Chad Simpson, who managed to get in the game briefly a couple of weeks ago, may end up with more extended playing time this week. There's a good chance he's still available in your league.

Colts receiver Marvin Harrison has missed some time recently with a hamstring injury. Despite the fact that the strain was in the distal part of the hamstring, nearer the knee, which usually hints at a longer recovery time, Harrison is reportedly feeling much better and could be ready to play this weekend. That being said, with the Colts being cautious, don't expect Harrison to see much playing time, even if he is active.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Jacobs
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesJacobs looked great last Sunday, but the Giants may rest him to make sure he's 100 percent healthy for the playoffs.
Brandon Jacobs, RB; Derrick Ward, RB, Giants: Brandon Jacobs looked good last weekend, and proved that his strength helps him compensate for any residual knee instability. Jacobs was limited in practice Wednesday, however, and it would not be a surprise if he is limited to a very short amount of playing time, if any, this weekend. Ward, who has a sore ankle, has been running very well when called upon, and is not far from reaching 1,000 yards on the season himself. He was a full participant in practice and should play plenty on Sunday.

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: If you watched either of the past two Cowboys games, you don't need me to tell you that Barber is still having trouble with his recently dislocated toe. Those problems continue into this week as Barber missed practice Tuesday and was limited on Wednesday. His persistent problems prompted coach Wade Phillips to tell the Dallas Morning News: "Maybe we shouldn't have played him at all. Maybe he would be well by now." Well, maybe. But it's clear that the Cowboys likely won't make the same mistake three times. It looks as if Barber will rest this week and Tashard Choice will once again see the bulk of the work.

Some other players to keep an eye on as the week progresses


&#8226 Although the 49ers' practice report was not yet in as of the writing of this column, it is still sounding as if running back Frank Gore will be able to see the field this Sunday. Although he is no lock to play the entire game, it would seem that Gore will be allowed to go as long as the ankle permits. We should have a better idea of what to expect once the week of practice is complete.

&#8226 Expect Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin (sore shoulder) to be back on the field this weekend as Arizona tries to get in sync before the playoffs. Boldin was held out of practice Wednesday but should see some practice time late in the week.

&#8226 In Green Bay, both Donald Driver and Greg Jennings left Monday night's game with injuries. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Driver sustained a knee contusion (bruise) and Jennings suffered a concussion. Driver was able to return to the game following his injury, always a good sign, but was held out of practice Wednesday. We will check back this weekend but he should be able to go by Sunday. Jennings was limited in practice Wednesday, and the fact that he is back out in practice already is a great sign. He should be able to play Sunday.

&#8226 Both Calvin Johnson (knee bruise) and Kevin Smith (ankle) were in practice on a limited basis Wednesday. Expect both to be available Sunday as the best hopes for a team trying to avoid a winless season.

&#8226 In Philadelphia, Kevin Curtis was kept out of last week's contest with a calf strain. The good news is that Curtis was a full participant in practice Wednesday and it sounds as if the Eagles expect to have him available this weekend, assuming there are no post-practice setbacks. Hank Baskett is still limited by his medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain and it is too early to predict whether he will be available. Even if he is, you should look elsewhere for another fantasy option. And by now you should know not to worry too much when Brian Westbrook doesn't practice early in the week. Westbrook has overcome knee and ankle injuries early in the year to provide a much-needed spark for the Eagles' offense. That should continue this weekend as the Eagles need a win and will count on his contributions.

&#8226 In Dallas, it's not just the running backs who are hurting. Quarterback Tony Romo missed Wednesday's practice because of illness but is expected to return to practice late in the week and play this weekend. Tight end Jason Witten, who clearly aggravated his ankle injury in the Cowboys' game Saturday, was held out of Wednesday's practice as well. Make no mistake though, Witten will be in the lineup in this all-important game for the Cowboys. Even if his ankle is bothering him, Witten proved in Week 16 that he could still get open and make plays. Fantasy owners can count on him in Week 17 also.

&#8226 Marshawn Lynch was not in practice Wednesday after aggravating his shoulder last weekend. According to the Bills' official Web site, coach Dick Jauron expressed optimism that Lynch would indeed play this weekend, but fantasy owners need to be aware that Fred Jackson may see a larger-than-usual workload.

Guys whom you should NOT expect to see this weekend


Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals: The hamstring strain that kept him out during Week 16 will likely cause him to miss the final game of the season as well.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: His back has been an issue for him all season long and there is zero reason for him to return this week in a meaningless contest for the Seahawks.

Kellen Winslow, TE, Browns: Winslow is still recovering from a high ankle sprain, and there is clearly no reason for the team to risk putting him back on the field this weekend.

Here's wishing everyone a very happy, restful and peaceful holiday. We'll update the latest player injury status on Saturday and be sure to stop by the injury chat on Sunday at 10 a.m. ET!

Many RBs are questionable for this key week

December, 20, 2008
12/20/08
2:26
PM ET
Championship week at last! Or close to it for most fantasy teams. Who is playing and will those players be effective? That's all most fantasy owners care about; no one is particularly interested in whether a guy will be better in four weeks or three months at this time of year. So today's blog is designed just for you fantasy playoffs people. Let's cut to the chase.

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: Saturday night game warning! Set your lineups early. And you might not want Barber in your lineup. Officially listed as questionable, Barber will test his injured toe in warm-ups to see whether he will be active. Despite the fact that he has not practiced all week, it's quite possible the Cowboys will keep him as an active option. After all, he did catch a few passes in Week 15. His running game was largely ineffective, though, and he clearly is still limited by his injuries. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Cowboys have to face the Ravens' tough run defense. Expect Tashard Choice to handle the bulk of the running game; he's proved to be quite capable so far. Incidentally, Tony Romo (probable) will play despite a sore back, but if the Ravens get to him early and often, this could be a problem.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Jacobs rested his sore left knee Friday, and despite the questionable tag, is expected to play against Carolina on Sunday. In fact, coach Tom Coughlin said after Friday's practice that Jacobs will play barring a setback. Keep in mind that although his symptoms appear to have settled, at least enough that he could practice on a limited basis all week, this is not an injury that "heals." As Jacobs himself indicated, this most recent setback is an aggravation of a previously sprained knee (posterior cruciate ligament), and that means he has some residual instability in that left knee. It's conceivable that he could perform very well. It's also conceivable that he could get rolled up from behind, fall directly on the front of a flexed left knee or slip and slide on a wet field (wintry mix weather conditions expected), any of which could aggravate the knee and cause him to leave early. Jacobs undoubtedly will share some work with Derrick Ward (probable), who is recovering from an ankle injury, but assume that Jacobs will get the majority of the carries as long as his knee cooperates.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings: Put him in your lineup. Peterson, listed as probable, most certainly will be on the field for the Vikings, who are in playoff contention. Not to mention that Peterson is vying for the league rushing title. He had a sore ankle following Sunday's contest and was limited in practice throughout the week. But he shrugged it off, calling the issues with his ankle just the "normal wear and tear of the season," according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. It does not sound as if this is an injury that will affect his ability to run or cut, perhaps just a mild sprain, and fantasy owners should expect a typical "All-Day" performance.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Gore is listed as questionable and is another game-time decision with his sprained ankle that kept him out in Week 15. Despite Gore's remarks in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier in the week that his ankle felt much better, he still has not participated in practice, doing only side work individually. While we're happy to see that he's coming along, you have to be skeptical that he is really ready to go. And the fact that the game will be on the artificial turf in St. Louis might present even more of a challenge for Gore's already limited ankle. Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat adds that even if Gore suits up, "it seems unlikely that he would have a big role in the game." The 49ers were happy with what they saw from DeShaun Foster in Week 15 and likely will lean on him again Sunday.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals: Sorry, fantasy owners. Start scrambling for a replacement, if you haven't already, because Boldin is likely to sit this one out. He has had some struggles recently, perhaps due to some of the new offensive plays he has been learning, perhaps due to a sore shoulder. Either way, coach Ken Whisenhunt said on the Cardinals' Web site this week that he would be willing to rest Boldin on Sunday in the interest of having him at full strength for the playoffs. In general, the game does not stack up well for the Cardinals: travel to the East Coast, cold and snowy weather, and an already secure playoff spot. Although he's listed as questionable and a game-time decision, Boldin did not practice all week and seems quite unlikely to play. Expect Steve Breaston to get the majority of the work.

Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: Portis developed some back spasms Friday that kept him out of practice. According to The Washington Post, Portis was having difficulty bending and was moving slowly. Hmmm. Those symptoms sound awfully consistent with a flare-up of a disc in the back. Not the kind of thing that goes away quickly. Portis was expected to seek treatment, and his status (questionable) remains uncertain for Sunday's matchup against the Eagles. Despite his ability to play through just about everything else, I don't like the way this sounds. If you have a viable alternative, use him, because Portis' availability and ability to play through this are far from sure things.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: We know Trent Edwards will be back calling the plays for the Bills' offense Sunday, but will Lynch be running? Lynch is listed as questionable because of a sore shoulder, but the Bills have not made much of this injury. In fact, Lynch was able to increase his practice workload throughout the week, and it looks as if he will be available against Denver. What is uncertain is how much the Bills will utilize him, given their non-playoff status. Perhaps they will be motivated to wrap up their season on a high note, beginning with a hard rushing game against a weak run defense.

Jeff Garcia, QB, Buccaneers: In Week 15, it sounded on Friday as if Garcia might play, but some fantasy owners found themselves scrambling to find a replacement Sunday when it was announced Brian Griese was starting instead. This week, the news out of Tampa Bay sounds a little more convincing that Garcia will indeed start, and he has had the benefit of an added week of rest for his ailing calf. He is listed as questionable, but he has put in limited practice every day this week and expects to be under center when the game gets underway. The St. Petersburg Times reported that coach Jon Gruden seemed to echo that sentiment when he said after Friday's practice, "I believe he'll be the starter." Garcia is a scrambler and often jumps in the air to throw, and a sore calf might affect his typical moves a bit. He obviously has shown enough in practice to at least secure the start, and being the tough player he is, this injury should not hold him back.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears: This game isn't until Monday night, so Forte's absence from most of the week's practices might have some owners in a panic. Breathe deeply -- it appears Forte will play. He is listed as questionable after injuring his right big toe in Week 15's Thursday night game, but coach Lovie Smith said Forte would return to practice Friday, and he did. Smith also said Forte would play Monday, and so far, he has been good on his remarks. It appears the Bears were proactively giving Forte extended rest, knowing how problematic toe injuries can be. Assume that Forte will play in this Monday night game, which is meaningful for the Bears, and unless he suffers a setback in the game, expect him to get his usual workload.

Good luck in Week 16! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

The biggest news this week revolved around a player who was a first-rounder in most fantasy-league drafts this year but isn't playing for anyone right now. New England Patriots quarterback and all-American guy Tom Brady, recovering from an ACL reconstruction (along with an MCL injury), is now also fighting an infection in his surgical knee. Infections are one of the unfortunate, uncommon risks associated with any surgical procedure and can occur for an infinite number of reasons. The good news, and the most important factor, is that Brady's medical team is treating this aggressively and proactively.

Incidentally, Brady was the beneficiary of having his surgery performed by one of the premier orthopedic surgeons in the country, if not the world: Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles. You may have heard on ESPN's "First Take" the renowned Dr. James Andrews offering his esteemed opinion of Dr. ElAttrache, and indicating that Andrews was consulted on the Brady case at ElAttrache's request since the initial discovery of a complication. Andrews was quick to point out that the correct measures to address the infection have been and continue to be in place, and that Brady appears to be "winning" the infection battle. It is too early to know the outcome with any degree of certainty, but it is very reasonable to expect that Brady could still be on track to recover within his originally projected timetable. In other words, he could still be ready to start the 2009 season.

So do not despair, fantasy owners, at least not over Brady. Besides, there are plenty of other injuries affecting your fantasy rosters that can keep you awake at night. Here's what we know as we head into the Week 8 contests.

[+] EnlargeWillie Parker
Michael Fabus/Getty ImagesParker will miss yet another game this week.
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: The setback Parker suffered last week to his sprained left medial collateral ligament is still affecting him enough that he will not take the field in Week 8. Parker is officially listed as doubtful, but there is no real expectation he will play.

A sprained left MCL will make any lateral motion difficult, especially planting and cutting toward the inside (right side) as it places increased strain on that ligament. In addition to the movement, Parker's knee has to be able to withstand contact before he can confidently return to competition. Parker was able to practice Wednesday but was limited Thursday and did not practice at all Friday. It appears the team will cross their collective fingers and hope that another week will allow him to return, but this remains a day-to-day situation. In the meantime, Mewelde Moore gets the start.

Sammy Morris, RB, and LaMont Jordan, RB, Patriots: Morris and Jordan are listed as doubtful, and neither is expected to play Sunday. It's a good thing the Patriots plan ahead. They are nothing if not deep at the running back position, and that is paying off right now. Last week, the Patriots placed running back Laurence Maroney on injured reserve because of continued problems in his shoulder. "That's OK," said the Patriots. "We have Sammy Morris." Well, they had him for 138 yards in the first half of Monday night's game, but Morris did not return in the second half because of a knee injury (which may keep him out for more than one week). "That's OK," said the Patriots. "We have LaMont Jordan returning this week." Well, he was planning to return, until he apparently suffered a setback. After participating Wednesday in a walkthrough session, Jordan did not participate in practice Thursday or Friday, leading to speculation that he did not respond so well to the light workout.

So who do the Patriots have handling the work now? Heath Evans has been used primarily as a blocking fullback, but he could touch the ball more (which he did late last year when Morris was out for the season and both Maroney and Faulk were banged up). Kevin Faulk will probably see an increase in his workload also, but don't discount recently promoted BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who showed up in the second half of Monday night's game for 65 yards and a score. Unfortunately it's a bit of a fantasy gamble as to who's featured, but if Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' comments are any indication, Green-Ellis could be the go-to guy. The Boston Herald reported that McDaniels liked what he saw from Green-Ellis on Monday night. "He knows where the hole is at, he finds it, he hits it, and he is not going to try to do much sideline-to-sideline running," McDaniels said. "Obviously, when he got his opportunities in the second half last week, he made the most of them."

Laveranues Coles, WR, and Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets: Brett Favre has found a couple of favorite targets in New York, but will he have either of them available to him Sunday? It appears that of the two, Coles, who is designated as probable, has a better chance of seeing the field, while Cotchery, listed as questionable, may be a game-time decision.

Coles, who has been nursing a quad strain throughout the season yet has managed to play through it and put up some great games, suffered his third concussion in less than two years last week. With the well-deserved serious attention given to head injuries, Coles was watched carefully this week and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Coles was cleared and returned to full practice Friday, however, which indicates he was feeling much better by the end of the week. After any head injury, it is equally important to assess the day-after response to exercise, but assuming Coles felt well Saturday morning, expect to see him suited up Sunday.

Teammate Cotchery was listed on the injury report early in the week with an "undisclosed" injury that forced him out early from Sunday's game. The Jets listed Cotchery on the injury report late this week with a "shoulder" ailment. He was only a limited participant in practice throughout the week, and the questionable designation makes him a likely game-time decision.

Other noteworthy items


&#8226 The much-anticipated return of Eagles running back Brian Westbrook should take place in Philly this week. Westbrook used the bye week to nurse his rib and ankle injuries. He managed a full week of practice, is listed as probable and is expected to start. Is he 100 percent? Probably not quite yet, but he is a guy who performs when he plays. Meanwhile, teammate Reggie Brown, who has been on the injury report with an Achilles, hamstring and now a groin strain, is listed as questionable. With the team getting wide receiver Kevin Curtis back from sports hernia surgery (he is off the injury report and listed as a starter), do not expect Brown to be pressed back into service. Expect Curtis and rookie DeSean Jackson to serve as the Eagles' primary receivers.

[+] EnlargeSteven Jackson
Scott Rovak/US PresswireExpect Jackson on the field, but just how much will he offer?
&#8226 In St. Louis, running back Steven Jackson seemed to escape major injury, suffering what the team referred to as a "mild" strain of his right quadriceps muscle. Jackson is listed as questionable. Coach Jim Haslett told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Jackson has a 50-50 shot of playing and will be a game-time decision. Jackson did practice for the first time all week Friday but was not running at full speed. It seems likely Jackson will indeed suit up against the Patriots, but he may not be at full strength. What does that translate to in terms of his function? Maybe he's not quite as explosive, not quite as able to drive a pile without the full contribution of those extremely well-developed muscles on the front of his thigh. And there's always the risk of further injury whenever the muscle starts out a little compromised. If Jackson takes the field, though, which I suspect at this point he will, it's impossible to keep him out of your fantasy lineup, because he remains an offensive threat.

&#8226 San Diego Chargers receiver Chris Chambers was upgraded to questionable this week after being doubtful last week, but his availability will be a game-time decision. Chambers was a limited participant in practice throughout the week, but the ankle still does not appear to be fully healed. Keep in mind that the weather in London, site of this week's matchup against the Saints, is expected to be rainy and cold. A slippery field is not a great playing surface for a balky ankle, and with a bye upcoming in Week 9, don't be surprised if Chambers is held out with the long-term picture in mind.

&#8226 We already know that New Orleans will be without running back Reggie Bush, who is recovering from knee surgery. Tight end Jeremy Shockey, who expressed frustration after experiencing pain early in last week's game, is listed as probable and is expected to play Sunday. Shockey is still on the recovery path from sports hernia surgery, and all things considered, will likely be limited in the number of plays he sees. That allows Shockey to get some playing time in but reduces the risk of a setback.

&#8226 Tampa has plenty of folks on its injury report this week. Wide receiver Joey Galloway has been on the list for weeks now with a foot injury and it appeared he would make his debut last week after increasing his practice activity. But it was not to be. Will it be any different in Week 8? Galloway again is officially listed as questionable, and it will again come down to a game-time decision for him, based on how his foot feels during warm-ups. Either way, ESPN's John Clayton says Galloway will probably not start; starting duty will go to Michael Clayton and Antonio Bryant. Meanwhile Ike Hilliard, who left the field following a scary concussion last week, is also listed as questionable. Hilliard was still experiencing post-concussion symptoms during the week but was able to fully practice Friday. If he does not experience any post-practice symptoms, he could be available, but the team may opt to let him sit this one out simply as a precautionary measure. And then there's running back Warrick Dunn, who is also listed as questionable on the team injury report with a "back" injury. The Tampa Tribune described Dunn's injury as a pinched nerve. Dunn's comments in the Tribune (he said he could move around, turn his neck) suggest that the injury was not severe. If Dunn is moving well in pregame warm-ups, expect him to play Sunday.

&#8226 Once again, the Seattle Seahawks likely will be without the services of wide receiver Deion Branch, who continues to be unable to practice because of a bruised heel (to go along with his recently reconstructed ACL in the opposite leg). He is again listed as questionable, but just as was the case last week, is really not expected to play.

&#8226 Indianapolis running back Joseph Addai was upgraded to questionable this week, despite the fact that he has not really done anything in practice this week. Addai is not expected to play when the Colts face the Titans on Monday night. Although Addai is reportedly feeling better, he and the team are looking at the long-term picture and are trying to avoid rushing him back and perhaps setting up a bigger injury. Tom James of the Terre Haute Star-Tribune reported that Addai is looking at his injury in the context of what is ultimately best for the team. "You want to be out there," Addai said. "But if you go out there and get hurt again, you'll be hurting your team. It's not just about yourself; it's about the team. So you have to make the right decision." Of course, your fantasy team is hurting without him. This scenario with Addai may extend beyond this week, so plan accordingly.

&#8226 Finally, the Cardinals are excited about the prospect of seeing wide receiver Anquan Boldin back on the field Sunday. Boldin is listed as questionable but is expected to see some action, just not a full slate of snaps. Boldin is coming off a significant injury to his skull that required some impressive hardware (eight plates as well as some wiring) to stabilize. Boldin did practice on a limited basis all week and appeared no worse for wear. Expect the Cardinals to utilize him on a limited basis to allow him to test himself in a game situation without overdoing it.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as additions to the "Out" listing for Week 8.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Not that this is a surprise. But the murmurs have turned to rumblings that Palmer may be headed for a full-season shutdown. No matter whether Palmer takes the field again for the Bengals this season, he should not be taking up space on your fantasy roster. It's time to move on.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Last week I thought a targeted return in Week 8 from his sciatic nerve ailment sounded optimistic. Well, it was. Hasselbeck continues to have weakness in his leg, and this should be considered a long-term rehab issue. He has yet to practice and will not be able to until he can pass specific strength tests. This could take a while.

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins: Betts will miss another week with the knee injury that sidelined him in Week 7. Shaun Alexander remains waiting in the wings to back up teammate Clinton Portis if necessary.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys: This was always a two- to four-week injury. Unlike some of the other Cowboys whose status was in question until game time last week, Jones' status was never up for debate. He likely will not be close to returning until after the Cowboys' bye week.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Well, at least we're not wondering up until game time. Even though all signs pointed to Romo's sitting out last week, he was listed as the No. 2 quarterback Sunday but never saw a snap. This week we learned that Romo never felt comfortable handling the ball, and consequently he will wait until the finger is healed before he returns. Smart move. Don't expect him back until after the Week 10 bye.

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: Bush is recovering from meniscal surgery on his knee and did not make the trip across the pond with his teammates. He will likely be sidelined for at least a month.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 8!

Here's what we know as we head into Week 6 contests.

[+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesCarson Palmer gets another week off this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick should be just as good, right?
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer is listed as doubtful this week but the Bengals have already indicated that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will start. Palmer still has soreness in his throwing elbow, and after not practicing all week, was relegated to non-starter this week. Whether Palmer is completely sidelined or whether he suits up as the No. 2 quarterback remains to be seen. It appears that the team is being protective of Palmer's elbow in the interest of his long-term health. With Fitzpatrick having an extra week of snaps with the first team, and Palmer being so critical to the franchise, it is not surprising that the team would opt to rest him. What is a bit surprising is they have not completely ruled him out of the game. It seems that if the Bengals wanted him to rest his elbow, the safest play would be to make him unavailable. After all, the No. 2 quarterback would then be Carson's younger brother, Jordan. Surely he's picked up a tip or two from his older sibling. In any event, fantasy owners want to find a replacement for Week 6 and it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep a second quarterback on your reserve list. This could be a week-to-week situation.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB and Deion Branch WR, Seattle Seahawks: What is in the drinking water in Seattle? There has to be a big reward waiting for whoever can discover the antidote to the injury plague attacking the Seattle quarterback and receiving crew.

Seattle will be starting its No. 3 quarterback Sunday if Charlie Frye takes the field at 4:15 p.m. EST. I say "if" because although Hasselbeck has not yet been cleared for contact, there is an outside chance that could happen by Sunday -- a very teeny, tiny outside chance. Hasselbeck hyperextended his knee last week and although a subsequent MRI revealed no ligament or meniscal damage, he did sustain a painful bone bruise and has been unable to practice all week. Early in the week, coach Mike Holmgren indicated that he expected Hasselbeck to be ready by game time, a point that was reiterated as late as Thursday by offensive coordinator Gil Haskell. But Hasselbeck was still not practicing Friday and, according to ESPN reports, Holmgren offered this explanation: "The thing just has not responded. He can't do much with his leg. It's not ligaments, it's not anything like that. It's just sore." Holmgren does not want to put a potentially vulnerable Hasselbeck on the field when his inability to move well could result in more hits and further injury. So, enter backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. Oops! He's not available because of a calf strain that has had him sidelined since he was prepping for filling in as the fifth or sixth wide receiver. Fortunately for Frye, he has been taking the first team snaps all week, and he did some filling in for Hasselbeck in preseason games while Hasselbeck nursed a sore lower back.

But the injuries don't stop there. Branch, who was so excited about making his regular-season NFL return last week from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery, was forced out early Sunday with a new injury. Branch is listed as questionable but is not expected to play.

Branch suffered a heel bruise on his left side. Sure, a bruise doesn't sound major, but if you were to take a hammer and slam it against your heel, then walk around on it, you might be able to appreciate just how limiting this type of thing can be. Now attempt to run, where your heel has to hit the ground harder. Even better, try jumping and landing on that foot alone. That's right. You really can't. (Hopefully no one actually tried this, but you get the picture.) Now complicate that picture by having a newly reconstructed knee on the other side. Although Branch was doing well from a healing perspective on his surgically reconstructed right knee, he was just getting his confidence back in that leg. Part of that help is having another "sound" leg. With his left leg now compromised, it potentially alters the way he moves on his right leg, and that is not something you want to see from a rehab perspective, as you're just getting an athlete back to competition.

If you want to take the glass-half-full approach, there is a bit of good news in Seattle. Last week the Seahawks saw receiver Bobby Engram enter the lineup for the first time in 2008 after being out with a fractured shoulder. He played well and is expected to see increased activity this week. Recently re-signed receiver Koren Robinson appears to be on the mend from the knee soreness that kept him out of the lineup thus far. After practicing all week, he is expected to start Sunday also.

Justin Fargas, RB and Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: The bye week helped both Oakland running backs, but one is clearly healthier than the other at this point. Fargas, who suffered a groin injury in Week 3 that caused him to miss Week 4, took advantage of the bye to get healthy. He practiced fully all week, is listed as probable and is expected to start.

McFadden has been dealing with a turf toe injury for several weeks that clearly limited him in Week 4. The bye week also afforded him some much-needed rest, but the fact that McFadden was still wearing a protective boot early this week let on that the toe was not 100 percent. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports that McFadden feels much better but is still stiff and still requires protection in his shoe. McFadden is listed as questionable but is expected to play Sunday. Given their relative health, expect Fargas to get the bulk of the work this week.

Brian Griese, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In a move that surprises no one, Jeff Garcia has been announced as this week's starting quarterback in Tampa Bay. Griese took a hit last week that left him with a bruised elbow and a shoulder strain in his throwing arm, and although he is listed as questionable, it is more likely that Luke McCown will serve as Garcia's backup. Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times reported that inflammation in Griese's elbow has essentially kept him from being able to throw at all this week, and unless that changes Sunday morning, which appears unlikely at this point, he will be in street clothes. Griese's timeline for return really depends on how the inflammation resolves and how functional his arm is, something that will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis next week.

[+] EnlargeMarques Colston
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesDrew Brees is probably counting down the days until Marques Colston is available to throw to.
Marques Colston, WR and Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints: The injury-plagued Saints appear to have been sharing tainted drinking water with the Seahawks. It now appears the Saints will be without the services of defensive tackle Antwan Lake as a result of a groin injury. Lake was filling in for the injured Sedrick Ellis, who is still recovering from knee surgery to address a torn meniscus. Wide receiver David Patten (doubtful) will likely miss another week because of his groin injury.

Everyone is looking for some good news on the injury front in New Orleans and Colston may be just the spark. But don't get too excited yet. Colston, coming off ligament-repair surgery in his thumb, is listed as questionable and may not see the field just yet. Colston came out of his cast last week and was able to participate in practice to some degree this week, wearing only limited padding on his thumb. In fact, Colston told the New Orleans Times-Picayune how surprisingly good his thumb felt when catching the ball: "I really don't feel it out there and I'm catching the ball well. It really doesn't feel like I'm trying to catch the ball any different."

Nevertheless, he is still on the early side of recovery and the medical staff needs to feel confident that no matter what Colston might encounter on the field, he will not be at risk for a setback. It's not just catching the ball and holding onto it, which certainly requires a great deal of thumb control and an ability to absorb impact. He has to be able to hit that thumb against a helmet or the ground and have that repair hold up. As much as they would like to see him active, the Saints may just have him sit tight another week. In fact, if he does suit up, expect him to see limited action.

Meanwhile, much was made of Shockey's return to practice Wednesday following sports hernia surgery a few weeks ago. Shockey did not practice Thursday or Friday, however, suggesting, as does his doubtful tag, that he will not see action for at least another week.

Other noteworthy items


&#8226 Cleveland Browns star tight end Kellen Winslow has spent the past two nights in a local hospital after not feeling well earlier in the week. There has been no word thus far as to the nature of the injury, but certainly hospitalization affords Winslow the chance to be observed and to ensure that he is receiving appropriate fluids and any necessary medications. The Browns have him listed as questionable for Monday night, but in addition to recovering from the illness itself, one concern has to be weakness after being in this state for a few days. Stay tuned.

&#8226 Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Lloyd is listed as doubtful with his sprained knee. Lloyd has yet to practice and the doubtful tag makes it virtually certain that he will not play. Expect his status to be shaky at best for the next couple of weeks.

&#8226 Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White dismissed his collision with Lawyer Milloy on Wednesday as minor, and it appears the team held him out of practice Thursday as a precautionary measure. But White did not practice Friday either and is now listed as a game-time decision. Head injuries are nothing to sneeze at, but White's injury was not seen as serious enough to require any formal testing. The rest may have been a means of ensuring he would be available for Sunday and it sounds as if he will play. The game is early, so fantasy owners should check inactive lists before game time, but there is reason to be optimistic.

&#8226 It looks as if there will be another backup quarterback starting Sunday, this time in Detroit. Jon Kitna has been dealing with lower back spasms that began during last week's game, and he is listed as doubtful. Backup Dan Orlovsky reportedly injured his ankle last week, yet he is listed as probable and it sounds as if he will get the start ahead of Drew Stanton. Receivers Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson were both listed as questionable this week; Johnson has a minor knee ailment, the result of banging it in practice earlier in the week, and Williams has been bothered by his hip. Both were held out of practice Friday but are expected to play Sunday.

&#8226 New England has listed running back LaMont Jordan as doubtful with a calf injury and running back Laurence Maroney as questionable with his shoulder injury. While Jordan did not practice all week and is almost certain to sit, Maroney practiced fully Wednesday but then saw limited action Thursday and Friday. He has not divulged even the slightest bit of information relative to his shoulder but acknowledges that he has "issues" he is trying to address, and sounds less than 100 percent. Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk may be your guys this week.

&#8226 San Diego Chargers receiver Chris Chambers managed to injure his ankle on the last play of the team's loss to Miami on Sunday. He was unable to practice all week, is listed as doubtful and is unlikely to play. Teammate Vincent Jackson is listed as probable after missing a day of practice Thursday with a sore knee. Jackson was back full-bore Friday and is expected to start, especially in light of Chambers' situation.

&#8226 Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal is listed as questionable because of an ankle bruise that kept him out of practice Wednesday and limited him the remainder of the week. ESPN's John Clayton said Royal will be a game-time decision. With Tony Scheffler and Selvin Young out this week, Denver's offense could be in a bit of trouble.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially added to the "out" listing for Week 6.

Brian Westbrook, RB and Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook's absence this week is not a huge surprise although it is a huge disappointment for fantasy owners. Westbrook has two broken ribs along with a still-recovering right ankle and, with a bye in Week 7, the Eagles have to be hoping that this will get him to a healthy place for the remainder of the season. Brown is dealing with his third soft tissue injury of the season (Achilles, hamstring, now groin) and will sit this one out.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Despite the fact Boldin was not officially ruled out until Friday, his absence does not come as a major surprise. Boldin is still recuperating from a procedure to address a sinus fracture. The Cardinals have a week off in Week 7, but you can expect him back in action in Week 8.

Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Galloway is out again. The difference this week is that Galloway did some limited practice. Very limited in fact, as in just one day of light work. Apparently his foot is still healing. But at least that is some progress to report and with any hope, he'll be steadily increasing his activity from here.

Terence Newman, CB, Dallas Cowboys: Officially listed as out because of an abdominal injury, there have been murmurings that Newman has a sports hernia that could require surgery and cause him to miss more than a month. Whenever an athlete has a groin injury followed by an abdominal injury, it begins to sound like a sports hernia. This is not good news for the Cowboys' secondary, because they have their fair share of challenges all around.

Tony Scheffler, TE and Selvin Young, RB, Denver Broncos: Groin injuries for everyone. Scheffler was on crutches after injuring himself in Week 5, so his absence from the lineup this week is not much of a surprise. Early on, it sounded as if this could be a more serious injury, but coach Mike Shanahan told the Denver Post he expects Scheffler to return for next week's Monday night game in New England. Shanahan offered essentially the same prognosis for Young, who has the same injury and did not practice all week either.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 6!

News on Westbrook very promising

October, 4, 2008
10/04/08
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Here's what we know as we head into the Week 5 contests.

Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook is listed as questionable again this week, but there is more optimism he will indeed play. Westbrook practiced with the team on a limited basis throughout the week but was a full participant in Friday's practice, lending credence to the idea that he will be ready to go Sunday.

Westbrook injured his ankle in Week 3 as he tried to hurdle teammate Tra Thomas and ended up catching his right foot awkwardly in the turf. Although reportedly imaging tests came back negative, Westbrook described his injury as closer to a high ankle sprain than anything else. It is fortunate for Westbrook and the Eagles that it was a mild version, as high ankle sprains can be particularly difficult to recover from, especially for running backs.

Last week, Westbrook tested the ankle in pregame warm-ups but, after discussion with the medical staff, determined he was not ready to go. During his weekly radio show Monday evening, Westbrook explained that even though straight-ahead running felt OK, he could not cut or weave Sunday. Show me a running back who can be effective without cutting or weaving, and I'll show you one who isn't a top draft pick on fantasy football teams worldwide. The decision to rest Westbrook was a wise one, as it improved his chances of performing well in this outing and, more importantly, helped decrease the risk of re-injury. Bear in mind that Westbrook's ankle is not 100 percent and there always is the possibility he will tweak it during the game. It's not enough of a concern to worry fantasy owners; after all, anyone can get injured on any given Sunday. Check pregame inactive lists to be sure, but as of now, expect Westbrook to start.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesRodgers will need to have full arm strength if he wants to be effective Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers sprained his shoulder last Sunday. This much we know to be true. And that's about where it ends. Rodgers, who was held to very limited practice Wednesday and Friday (and no practice Thursday), will be a game-time decision for the Packers. His questionable status implies there is a 50-50 chance he will play. And that estimate seems to reflect exactly what Packers coach Mike McCarthy is saying.

McCarthy said in his Friday news conference that he is "preparing to go either way," meaning he will insert either Rodgers or rookie Matt Flynn into the lineup as quarterback once he sees how Rodgers looks during warm-ups. It really does come down to how Rodgers "looks," because Rodgers himself said the pain is "potentially tolerable." The big issue is arm strength, which, as of Friday, he still did not have. Rodgers, who is known for having a very strong arm, was able to throw only lightly Friday. McCarthy wants to give Rodgers every opportunity to start Sunday, hence the decision to allow his shoulder an additional 48 hours of rest and recovery. If Rodgers can go on the field and prove to himself and his coaching staff he can make the necessary throws, he will start.

The Packers have not been more specific in discussing Rodgers' ailment, calling it only a "shoulder sprain." Since there is more than one joint at the shoulder -- the glenohumeral joint (the ball and the socket of the shoulder) and the acromioclavicular (AC) joint (the point of the shoulder that, when injured, often is referred to as a separated shoulder) -- it is unclear where the problem lies. Either way, there is little chance playing could make Rodgers' injury worse. That is why it really comes down to function. Can he bring his arm over the top and put enough on the ball to deliver it as needed, not only with adequate distance, but also with accuracy?

Although Rodgers suggests pain will not keep him out of the game, pain does have a potential role in his ability to perform. Pain inhibits muscular contraction; it is part of the body's way of protecting you from yourself. When there is an injured part, forceful muscular contraction could result in increased damage to that injured part. Through complex neurological mechanisms, the body comes to a simple solution: Don't allow the muscles to contract at 100 percent strength, therefore prevent something worse from happening. As the tissue heals itself, the pain and the inflammation diminish, and this mechanism becomes less and less of a factor. For that reason, allowing Rodgers a couple of extra days of recovery and treatment might make the difference in allowing him to function well enough to play.

That said, even if Rodgers is well enough to play, he will not be at 100 percent. This could show up as fatigue in the arm as the game goes on or as ineffectiveness if he absorbs a lot of contact and finds himself hitting the ground with that sore shoulder. His offensive line will have to make an extra effort to protect him in order to keep him in the game, and his best chance of lasting will come if the Packers can balance their running and passing games.

Fantasy owners and Packers fans will just have to wait and see whether 48 hours are enough.

Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer is listed as questionable, but all signs after Friday's practice point to him starting in Dallas. Palmer is recovering from an inflamed right (throwing) elbow and was held to very limited activity and lots of treatment early in the week. Friday, however, was a different matter, as Palmer was a full participant in practice, making short, intermediate and long throws, according to the Bengals' Web site.

Coach Marvin Lewis said that if Palmer had no setbacks Saturday, "all systems are go." No news appears to be good news, and Palmer looks as if he will start Sunday. Even if he does start, Palmer's elbow likely is not 100 percent recovered. If he takes a lot of hits, as has been the case so far this year, or if he is forced to throw hard and throw often, he could start to feel the elbow acting up. If the pain returns or if his throwing becomes ineffective, Palmer will be forced to make an early exit. Palmer wants to play, but all along, the concern he's expressed after discussions with the medical staff is ensuring that this does not turn into a more serious, lingering problem. Palmer might start, but he might not finish.

Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: McGahee is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision Sunday. The consolation for fantasy owners is that the Ravens play a 1 p.m. ET game. The downside is that a running-back-by-committee situation might be only enhanced by McGahee's latest setback. He wants to play, but given that he still is recovering from a shot to the ribs on a short week, the bulk of the carries might shift to the Le'Ron McClain-Ray Rice tandem.

McGahee has demonstrated his toughness, suiting up for Monday night's game despite suffering a lacerated eyelid and a poke in the eye in Week 3. His eye was not completely healed, as was evident if you saw him standing on the sidelines late in the game, helmet off, blood still visible in his eye. He was on the sidelines because he was forced out early after taking a bruising hit to the chest. In the absence of a fracture, the primary limitation from bruised ribs is pain, hence the team's choice to wait to make a decision until Sunday, allowing for maximum recovery. For his part, McGahee told The Baltimore Sun he just wants to finish a game, something he has not been able to do yet this year with all the physical abuse he has endured. Let's see. The Ravens play the tough Tennessee Titans defense Sunday. Sorry, Willis, this might not be the week.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Despite his questionable tag, various reports suggest Roethlisberger is likely to start Sunday night's game against the Jaguars. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting that coach Mike Tomlin said Thursday, "I think he's going to be fine." Roethlisberger still is dealing with soreness in his throwing shoulder since spraining his AC joint in Week 1. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Roethlisberger received an injection in his shoulder Thursday, which probably is what allowed him to practice for the first time all week on Friday.

Of course Big Ben is still sore! He keeps getting hit, knocked down and otherwise buried by opposing defenses. The more he lands on a joint in which the ligaments are trying to heal, the harder it is for them to do so. I know, I know, it does not take a medical degree to figure this out. But it's worth highlighting why it is so difficult for Roethlisberger to truly improve from week to week; he's lucky to just maintain. Something tells me it won't get much easier against the Jags, despite some of their own defensive injury woes. If Roethlisberger is struggling, don't be surprised if Tomlin trots out Byron Leftwich to face his former team. Tomlin has been expressing confidence in Leftwich and his ability to step up if needed all week. Makes you wonder whether he has a plan.

Other noteworthy items

&#8226 Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith is listed as questionable but is expected to play. Smith sat out this past Sunday with a back injury but was able to fully participate in practice throughout the week. Teammate Donovan McNabb still is sore from the chest bruise he sustained in Week 3, which is why the team limited him in practice early in the week. McNabb practiced fully Thursday and Friday and is listed as probable, indicating the Eagles expect to see him on the field.

&#8226 Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White is listed as probable with a sore shoulder. This shoulder ailment is the one that caused him to exit practice early Sept. 25, but he proved this past Sunday that he could play through it. The team held him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, no doubt raising some concerned eyebrows among fantasy owners, but White practiced fully Friday, confirming his readiness to play. Meanwhile, the news is not so good for one of his teammates, wide receiver Justin Gage. Gage missed a game earlier in the season due to a groin injury and apparently now will be sidelined with a right knee injury. He is listed as doubtful and did not practice all week, never a good combination heading into the weekend. The Nashville City paper reported that Gage was wearing a brace early in the week, suggesting a sprain of some sort. Although there have been no specifics as to the nature of Gage's injury, the Titans' bye in Week 6 will come at a good time, hopefully allowing him to return by Week 7.

&#8226 Cincinnati Bengals running back Chris Perry made some fantasy owners nervous when he showed up on the injury report with a hamstring ailment this week. The probable designation should put minds at ease, though, as Perry practiced fully Thursday and Friday with no reported setbacks. It appears the decision to rest him somewhat Wednesday was largely precautionary, especially with backup Kenny Watson recovering from a more significant hamstring strain of his own. Watson is listed as questionable, and his availability is far less certain.

&#8226 Good news for Seattle's receiving corps! Welcome back Bobby Engram and Deion Branch. Both receivers are listed as probable, and both are expected to play. Branch is about eight months post-ACL reconstruction and has been working on the confidence aspect of recovery. He has strength and stamina, but the biggest hurdle for many players following this type of injury is having confidence that the knee will hold up when they return to the playing field. As Branch told The Seattle Times earlier in the week, "My leg was healed a long time ago. It's the mental part I had to break through." Expect him to start Sunday but perhaps see less playing time, as the Seahawks might ease him back into the position. Engram returns from a shoulder fracture sustained during the preseason. He practiced fully all week and is expected to play. It is unclear how much time he will see on the field, but the fact that he did so well in practice, despite it being the first week he had practiced with the team since the injury, bodes well for him.

[+] EnlargeBernard Berrian
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesGus Frerrote is really hoping Berrian can play given the state of Viking receivers.
&#8226 The Minnesota Vikings had a surprise addition to the injury report that will affect fantasy owners. Wide receiver Bernard Berrian, who has been hampered by a toe injury for much of the season, now has a knee injury that has downgraded him to questionable for Monday night. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Berrian was "clearly hobbled" during the limited portion of practice available to the media Friday. The late addition to the injury report implies the injury is recent, and in the absence of any further details about the injury itself, it is unclear whether this is a short-term or long-term problem. Either way, Berrian does get an extra day to rest his knee, but it might not be enough to allow him to go Monday night. Meanwhile, teammate Sidney Rice still is struggling with his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain. Although he was active this past Sunday, he played only a limited amount and was held to one catch for 6 yards. After he was limited in practice every day this week, it does not appear he has made great strides. He is listed as questionable for Monday night. The knee instability associated with this injury makes it tough for a receiver to jump, land and pivot normally. Remember that last season, it took Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson several weeks to return to the field after a similar injury.

&#8226 While the Vikings' receivers might be in trouble, at least their star running back feels like he is back to his old, er, young self. Adrian Peterson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he feels his hamstring now is 100 percent healthy. "I really feel like me being out there 90 percent, 95 percent, I can go out there and run full speed. As far as opening it up and really shifting to another gear, I haven't been there. But I've been able to go out and get away from guys still, so it hasn't affected my game. But me just being 100 percent, no tweaks, just feeling good, feeling fresh, like I felt when we started the season, it's a good feeling inside." Good news for Vikings fan and Peterson fantasy owners alike.

And a couple of IDP tidbits

Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay Packers: Despite his toe injury, he is performing and will continue to do so. He is listed as probable and is expected to play.

Derrick Brooks, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brooks is listed as questionable with the hamstring injury that bothered him throughout Week 4. Well, it bothered him in practice, but it certainly didn't affect his monster productivity. He again is expected to play Sunday, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Brooks practiced on a limited basis throughout the week, and his presence as a team leader on defense is incredibly valuable.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as additions to the "out" list for Week 5.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Did anyone who saw the hit that leveled Boldin this past Sunday really think he would be back in uniform this week? Probably not, but the team did not officially rule him out until Friday. Boldin underwent a corrective procedure to address a fractured sinus and will continue to recuperate from that and his split lip. I would not be surprised to see Boldin out Week 6 as well, especially given the fact that the Cardinals have a bye in Week 7. Fantasy owners should make alternate plans.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Chicago Bears: Lloyd had a hip problem earlier in the year, and now he has added a knee injury to the list. Although the team has called it only a knee sprain, Lloyd was wearing a brace and did not practice all week. This appears to be more than a one-week injury.

Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Same story as the past two weeks. While no details have been given as to the nature of his foot injury, we know such injuries tend to take a while to improve. Galloway's continued absence from practice and presence on the "out" list only serve to confirm that.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints: Shockey is doing some more activity but still is only two weeks removed from surgery. He's not yet ready to return to the field. The Saints have hinted his return could come soon. We'll know more next week.

Willie Parker, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Parker apparently wanted to play Sunday, but the coaches are holding him out as a precaution, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Parker's sprained left knee is nearing 100 percent, but with a bye next week, the team chose to give him the extra rest. Fantasy owners, mark your calendars for Oct. 19, when Parker should be back in the lineup.

Samari Rolle, CB, Baltimore Ravens: Rolle is expected to be out at least a month following surgery to address a bulging disc in his neck. The Baltimore Sun reports that the injury, initially thought to be a shoulder problem, occurred Sept. 21 when Rolle intercepted a Derek Anderson pass, but further testing revealed the problem actually was coming from his neck (a common occurrence). Poor Rolle has had his share of challenging ailments during his NFL career. Last season, he was diagnosed with epilepsy and missed six games as a result. He later missed four others due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. Now this. He hopes to be back on the field this season, but some intensive rehab awaits him between now and then. We will keep an eye on his progress.

Sedrick Ellis, DT, New Orleans Saints: Ellis will miss two to four weeks after undergoing surgery to address a meniscus tear in his right knee. The good news is that the injury is less serious than it could have been. The Saints have gotten great production out of their first-round pick and hope to again when he returns.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 5!

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