Stephania Bell: Braylon Edwards



How far the mighty have fallen. So many draft day stars have been taken down by injury, costing fantasy owners anywhere from one or two games (Arian Foster, who has since recovered beautifully) to an entire season (Jamaal Charles, so much potential, so sad). Perhaps the worst status is that of fantasy limbo where owners continue the hand-wringing over whether a player will or won't return in any given week (Peyton Hillis headed for a sixth straight absence, Jahvid Best headed for his fifth).



[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
AP Photo/Andy KingAdrian Peterson scored his 12th touchdown of the season Sunday before suffering an ankle injury.
Add Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to the list of stars who have suffered an injury that will lead to missed time (Grade 1 high ankle sprain). While Peterson has not officially been ruled out, the nature of the injury is such that no one expects him to suit up. He is in a walking boot and may test the ankle Friday, but it would be hard to imagine him being game ready by Sunday.

Earlier this year there was optimism that St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford would play the week following a high ankle sprain; he missed two games. Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones returned last week after missing four weeks with his high ankle sprain. While no two injuries are identical, the concern over proper healing of a high ankle sprain to prevent future problems and the demands of the running back position suggest Peterson will miss this week and perhaps longer.

The Buffalo Bills saw their star running back Fred Jackson go down with a calf bruise. Jackson was reportedly very sore Monday and is being called day-to-day by the team. Any bleeding in the calf is compounded by the tight muscle compartments in the area, making it difficult to eliminate swelling. It would not be surprising if Jackson is out in Week 12.

The Chicago Bears suffered perhaps the most devastating loss when they discovered quarterback Jay Cutler broke his right thumb, an injury that will require surgery. While the Bears are still leaving the door open for Cutler to return this season, the likelihood of that happening is small. Between waiting for the bone to heal, restoring range of motion and strength sufficient to both grip the ball and guide the ball when throwing, the timetable normally extends beyond six weeks. Although the Bears will wait and see how Cutler's progress evolves, from a fantasy perspective there is no reason to wait. Time, as they say, to move on.

With the altered holiday schedule resulting in three Thursday NFL games, we focus on those injury concerns here:

Green Bay at Detroit

Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best will not play Thursday. He is still recovering from symptoms following a concussion and has not yet practiced. He has been making strides, appearing at the team facility and watching some practice, but has steps to clear before returning to a game situation. Kevin Smith had a sensational game last Sunday and is expected to get plenty of work again Thursday.

• Wide receiver Calvin Johnson gave everyone a scare when he didn't practice Tuesday, the most significant practice heading into a Thursday game. Apparently he was getting some additional rest for his ankle, but Paula Pasche of the Oakland Press reported via Twitter that Johnson says he will, in fact, play.

[+] EnlargeJames Starks
Jeremy Brevard/US PresswireJames Starks had been emerging as the Packers' primary running back but he could be limited for Thursday's game.
• The Green Bay Packers had two major fantasy player injury concerns coming out of Week 11. Receiver Greg Jennings had a bruised knee but was back in practice Tuesday and "running just fine," according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Head coach Mike McCarthy has already indicated Jennings will play Thursday. Running back James Starks came out of Sunday's game with two injuries, sprains to both his right knee and ankle. Starks was in practice Tuesday as well but the Journal-Sentinel described him as appearing "cautious." The decision for Starks will come down to gametime, but there is a decent chance he does not play.

Miami at Dallas

• The Dallas Cowboys will likely be without wide receiver Miles Austin again Thursday. He has not yet returned to practice following his hamstring injury and cannot be expected to be running full speed in two days. Sitting out this week gives him another week and a half of rest. His chances of returning in Week 13 seem much better.

• Running back Felix Jones returned from his high ankle sprain and seemed to survive Week 11 without incident. Of course he didn't carry a full load, probably wise given that he was coming off a month away from the game. With DeMarco Murray playing as well as he has, the ratio of carries is likely to stay as it is, at least for the time being.

San Francisco at Baltimore

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore started last Sunday and had no reported problems with his knee or ankle following the game. According to CSNBayArea.com, Gore came out of the game once the 49ers were up 23-0, probably a smart move knowing the next game was four days and a coast-to-coast plane trip away. Expect Gore to start again Thursday night.

• Although receivers Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards have been limited in practice for multiple weeks, they have been playing on gameday and are expected to do so again Thursday.

• The Baltimore Ravens were without the services Sunday of linebacker and team leader Ray Lewis, who sat out the game with a toe injury. According to the Carroll County Times, Lewis says he is getting treatment and doing all he can "to prepare to play on Thursday." He says he is making some progress but there may not be enough time to make the progress he needs to play in a game. A decision on him may not come down until pregame Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 12 in the Saturday blog!

The injury aftermath from Week 7

October, 25, 2011
10/25/11
5:34
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Anyone who plays fantasy football knows the trauma inflicted across rosters in the mess that was Week 7. There are, oh, a gazillion injury situations in play, so without further ado:

[+] EnlargeTim Hightower
James Lang/US PresswireTim Hightower had seemingly retaken the Redskins' top running back slot last Sunday before suffering his season-ending knee injury.
Two more fantasy running backs were lost for the season Sunday. Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower was just getting past his shoulder injury, but it was his leg that failed him this time. Hightower suffered a torn ACL in a classic non-contact, deceleration manner, so we won't see him until next season.



It's hard to know whether we'll see Earnest Graham again after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' veteran back, filling in for the injured LeGarrette Blount, suffered a torn Achilles tendon. With surgery and a lengthy recovery ahead of him, Graham may be challenged to return. In the meantime the Bucs, who have said nothing about Blount's specific injury or his progress (other than terming it a sprained knee), may be turning to some outside help to shore up their backfield. However, the Bucs do have a bye this week, but it is too soon to know whether Blount, who has yet to practice, will be ready by Week 9.

Tight end Chris Cooley never really got it going this season as a result of his ongoing knee ailment. He then fractured his index finger, requiring surgery and a lengthy recovery. He will now have plenty of time to recover from both as the Redskins have placed him on injured reserve. Fred Davis has proven to be quite capable in his place so far this year.

Quick Hits


They're all going to be quick hits this week gang given the number of injury items. As details emerge throughout the week, we will expound on them.

[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesOnce again, Matthew Stafford is dealing with an injury.
• For all those who took the under at Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford staying healthy through the first half of the season (officially through this Sunday; the Lions then have a bye in Week 9), don't rush to cash in just yet. Although Stafford was seen limping off the field late in Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons game after a defender fell on his right ankle, head coach Jim Schwartz is simply calling him "day-to-day," leaving open the possibility he is available this week. Schwartz did not go into details regarding the results of Stafford's imaging tests. My interpretation: nothing catastrophic, but some variant of a soft tissue injury. The key, as always, will be whether he can effectively plant and throw and move to protect himself.



• There were a pair of hand injuries suffered Sunday that require surgery. Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss underwent surgery Monday to insert pins in his broken left hand. He is projected to miss five to seven weeks. That timetable could be updated in about a month as the bone healing is evaluated. Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee fractured his fourth metacarpal (the long bone in the hand that runs from the base of the fourth finger to the wrist) and is scheduled for surgery to repair it on Tuesday. While McGahee acknowledged he would miss Week 8, he expressed confidence he could return by Week 9. That sounds optimistic. Consider Redskins running back Ryan Torain, who underwent surgery for his metacarpal fracture in August but took three and a half weeks to return to practice, and four weeks before he played in a game. While all injuries are unique, it would not be surprising if McGahee's absence extends beyond the two weeks he projects. Even when he returns, he may require protective wear on the hand. OK, Knowshon Moreno, it's time to step up.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings also suffered a hand injury Sunday, but the results were not so dire. Jennings suffered a bruised right hand, one that caused him to temporarily experience numbness, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He had enough function in the hand to return to the game and later X-rays revealed no fracture. The Packers have a bye in Week 8, and it sounds like they expect Jennings for their Week 9 matchup with the San Diego Chargers.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden had only two carries Sunday before exiting with what coach Hue Jackson told reporters Monday is a midfoot sprain. McFadden was on crutches Monday to offload the foot, but the team seems to not be overly concerned. They have the luxury of a bye week to allow McFadden to rest the foot and plan to re-evaluate him Monday. The midfoot is key for transferring load from the back of the foot to the front during weightbearing and any injury there makes it difficult to walk, much less run, normally. A minor sprain can respond well to unloading (this is where the crutches come into play) along with therapeutic modalities to help ease any pain and inflammation. Keep in mind that McFadden did return to the sidelines, but given his history of toe and ankle injuries, the Raiders were more conservative in guarding him against further injury. Wise move. Hopefully he is able to return in Week 9.

[+] EnlargeBeanie Wells
AP Photo/Paul ConnorsBeanie Wells rushed for 42 yards before leaving with another injury.
Arizona Cardinals oft-injured running back Beanie Wells suffered a knee injury in Sunday's game that has left him with significant swelling but no particular diagnosis, at least not one the team is revealing. According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Wells denied a bone bruise and head coach Ken Whisenhunt did not elaborate on the nature of the injury, only saying there was no major structural damage. There are plenty of means by which a joint can become irritated and the response to that irritation is swelling. This is the same knee Wells had surgery on last year for a torn meniscus. The bottom line is that there is no plan for surgery (since there is no "structure" to address) at this time but there is also no running on a swollen knee. The goal is to address the swelling first, then try to bring the athlete back toward full activity and hope the swelling does not return. How long will it take? No one knows for sure. So stay tuned and keep an eye on when Wells is able to return to practice. Start by preparing for a backup in Week 8.

• New Orleans had all their running backs healthy when they came into Week 7 (not counting Chris Ivory, on the Physically Unable to Perform list since the start of the season). But Mark Ingram left Sunday's game with a limp, suffering what the team has called a bruised heel. No further word from the Saints on what they expect, and there is no indication as to whether the bruise is on the back of his heel, near the Achilles attachment, or on the undersurface of the heel, making it hard to prognosticate. If Ingram is limited, Pierre Thomas could be setting up for a nice matchup against the St. Louis Rams. Meanwhile, Ivory could be nearing a return to practice but that has not yet been made official.

• Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a nasty looking ankle roll in Sunday's game. The awkward spill appeared to stress both his ankle and his knee, but after exiting for a brief period, Ryan was able to return and finish out the game. Ryan is no doubt pleased to have a bye week to allow the soreness to subside but is expected to start in Week 9. Teammate Julio Jones has missed two games with a strained hamstring, but if all goes well he could be back in Week 9.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has been battling sore ribs since the preseason. Again he had issues with the ribs, which forced him to exit the game in the third quarter. Harvin is going to be further evaluated, but consider the Vikings had already agreed to scale back his playing time when his condition worsened. It's entirely possible he misses some time.

• Even the durable Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers is on the injury report this week after sustaining an ankle sprain Sunday. Ward often gets a day off from practice during the week (veteran, history of knee issues in the past) so it may be difficult to get a feel for his playing status until Friday.



• The San Diego running backs have to be thankful for one extra day before returning to competition. Ryan Mathews injured his thumb during the game against the New York Jets but was able to return to play. Mike Tolbert was seen grabbing his hamstring late in the game and was indeed listed on the postgame injury report, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, but neither player's injuries seemed to be a major cause for concern.

Raise your hand if you were one of the fantasy owners whose Sunday was ruined when Marshawn Lynch, declared active, was suddenly not playing because of back spasms that flared up during his pregame warmup. To make matters worse, it appears Lynch has been dealing with the issue for a while. According to the Seattle Seahawks' official website, coach Pete Carroll said Lynch's back is "not a new issue" but has been managed effectively to this point. As for Lynch's status this week Carroll said, "We'll have to be careful with him through the week and make sure that we do the right things. He is determined to play for sure in his mind, but we're really not going to know until we get to the end of the week." Or maybe not until Sunday after your rosters lock. Have a backup at the ready so you can pull the trigger if there's any shadow of a doubt heading into gametime.



And then there were a number of players who never took the field in Week 7 but whose status is of interest for Week 8:

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Ray Carlin/Icon SMISam Bradford sat out Sunday's game against the Cowboys and may be back on the bench this week.
• St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is still in a walking boot and is no lock to play in Week 8. The team plans to reassess his status Wednesday.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis was not able to play Sunday because of his strained hamstring, but he did get some running in Monday, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. There have been enough hamstring injuries around the league that everyone should know this is only one of many steps before returning to play. If Hillis is able to get back to full practice this week, then he should play Sunday.

• The Houston Texans could have wide receiver Andre Johnson back in the lineup Sunday if all goes well. Coach Gary Kubiak added clarity to the situation calling the return of Johnson "definitely a possibility" when speaking to reporters Monday. Johnson, who underwent a procedure on his torn hamstring tendon in early October, has been running but has not yet returned to practice. If he is able to do so early this week, it would bode well for his chances.

• The San Francisco 49ers could have wide receiver Braylon Edwards in the mix this Sunday. Edwards has been out recovering from meniscus surgery on his right knee. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said he expected Edwards to return to practice Tuesday.



• The New York Giants could get running back Brandon Jacobs alongside Ahmad Bradshaw this week. Jacobs, sporting a brace for protection, was able to practice Monday, indicating the swelling in his knee had subsided to the point he could participate. Now the challenge will be to see if the swelling remains down before he can be cleared to play.

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

All eyes on Marion Barber's status

December, 1, 2008
12/01/08
1:05
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Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: It's no secret that Barber is the featured back in the Cowboys' offense. But with Felix Jones out for the remainder of the season because of a big toe injury that required surgery, Barber's early exit on Thanksgiving meant the Cowboys had to shift the load to Tashard Choice.

Tashard Choice
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesTashard Choice might make for a nice pickup this week.

So will Choice be the team's starter in Week 14? Probably not, but if you have him on your fantasy bench, you just might want to hang on to him for insurance. Early news suggests that Barber could start Sunday even though he dislocated his toe Thursday. There are two silver linings with Barber's injury: There are 10 days between the Cowboys' Week 13 and Week 14 games, and an MRI showed that he did not break a bone in his toe, which often can be a side consequence of a dislocation. The complications of a fracture might have kept Barber off the field. In the absence of a broken bone, there is a good chance that once the pain and inflammation in the area settle, Barber will manage with the toe taped for support. Buddy taping, when the injured toe is taped to the adjacent toe (the fourth toe in Barber's case), is commonly used to help control the motion of the injured part. Barber's footwear also might be adapted to provide some extra reinforcement in the toe area. That would further limit toe motion while also protecting it from impact to some degree. Practice reports should yield better clues as the week unfolds, but at this point, there is reason to feel positive that Barber will play in Week 14.

Kellen Winslow, TE, Browns: Winslow has been a regular on the injury report the past few weeks but has managed to play despite a shoulder sprain. But he added a new injury to this season's list of ailments Sunday when he left the game early in the third quarter after injuring his left ankle.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Winslow left the stadium after the game in a walking boot and is scheduled for an MRI on Monday. Winslow is known for playing in pain, but whether he is able to play this week might simply come down to how serious the damage is. We will, of course, keep you posted as information becomes available.

Other noteworthy injuries:

&#8226 Packers running back Ryan Grant sat out the second half of Sunday's contest because of a sprained right thumb, according to the Packers' official Web site. Grant said that he could have returned, but pain, swelling and limited motion in his thumb raised concerns about his ability to control the ball, and the decision was made to keep him out. Although Grant says he will be ready to play by Sunday, it is worth noting that Brandon Jackson stepped in for the injured Grant and played well. Thumb injuries are not insignificant, and it might be worth securing Jackson if Grant is on your fantasy team.

Steven Jackson
Jeff Curry/US PresswireSteven Jackson looked good in Sunday's game, and seemed to come out of it unscathed.

&#8226 Rams running back Steven Jackson had a decent outing Sunday and saw his first significant playing time in six weeks. Jackson rushed for 94 yards but essentially was rested in the fourth quarter. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there is some disagreement between Jackson and coach Jim Haslett as to why Jackson sat out late in the game. Haslett says Jackson was "gassed," but Jackson says he "felt amazing" and was frustrated he couldn't contribute late. Jackson did admit to some tightness and soreness in his quadriceps after the game, but that is to be expected with a still-healing muscle strain. The key will be whether Jackson experiences any setbacks early this week after pushing himself more than he has in a month. If Jackson doesn't regress, expect him to continue to increase his playing time as the Rams finish their season (and you finish your playoffs).

&#8226 Jonathan Stewart, who has been nursing a heel problem for a few weeks, was visibly slowed during a potential scoring run Sunday. But a hamstring cramp was what prevented Stewart from outrunning the Packers' defensive backs and entering the end zone. According to the Gaston Gazette (Gastonia, N.C.), Stewart attributed the hamstring cramp to cold temperatures and lack of warm-up. He called it a "lesson learned." DeAngelo Williams has proven to be a solid feature back for Carolina, though, and it looks as if that could be the scenario going forward.

&#8226 Bills quarterback Trent Edwards was forced out of Sunday's game because of a groin injury. According to news reports, Edwards began feeling pain in the groin at the start of the game, but by halftime it had increased to the degree that he could not continue. J.P. Losman replaced him for the remainder of the game. Edwards could not say whether he would be well enough to play this week but indicated he needs to get himself into the training room to work on getting healthy. That sounds like a reasonable plan. So does securing an alternate quarterback for your fantasy roster this week, just in case.

&#8226 In addition to the injury to Winslow, it appears the Browns suffered another season-ending quarterback injury. Derek Anderson, starting in place of the index-finger-injured Brady Quinn, sustained a knee injury that might force him out for the remainder of the 2008 season. The team is reporting that Anderson sprained his left medial collateral ligament, an injury that usually takes three to four weeks to heal for a quarterback. With only four weeks left in the Browns' season, it is quite possible that Ken Dorsey, who stepped in when Anderson went down Sunday, will become the starter to finish out the year. Dorsey hasn't seen enough playing time to make him a good fantasy option, and it has to knock down the value of Braylon Edwards as well.

Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. Oakland will play in San Diego on Thursday, so be sure to set your lineup in advance. Stop by the injury chats (11 a.m. ET Tuesday and Friday) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!

First bye week, first major substitutions for fantasy owners whose top draft picks are resting. And then there are those pesky injuries that complicate matters. This week, the injury picture actually looks much clearer in terms of who will sit and who will start, with a couple of notable exceptions. But even when they start, the big question for fantasy owners is, will those semi-healthy players be productive?



Here's what we know as we head into the Week 4 contests:

Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles:
The answer to the question, "Will he or won't he suit up Sunday night?" remains the same as it was Wednesday when we last discussed Westbrook's injury status. We don't know. What we do know is that through a complete week, Westbrook has not practiced because of his sore ankle. We also know that the game is Sunday night. And if past performance is an indication of projection, we know that Westbrook is entirely capable of showing up big in a game without practicing at all during the week. He's done it before.

That being said, his latest injury appears to be consistent with a high ankle sprain. Even in the mildest of cases, this is a tough injury to recover from and move effectively as a running back in just one week. Westbrook seems to know his body well and knows when he can and cannot push through something. I believe that when he is a game-time decision, as he will be this week, it truly will be a matter of him warming up pregame to assess how effective he can be before a decision is made. The problem for fantasy owners is the timing of the game. Unless Correll Buckhalter, who will start in Westbrook's place if he cannot go, is on your bench, you may not have the luxury of waiting. At this point, his questionable designation, which literally is intended to translate to an athlete having a 50-50 chance of playing, appears right on point.

Brett Favre, QB, Jets:
Although Favre appeared noticeably hobbled by his ankle early in the week, per ESPN reports he seemed to move better in practice each day. Most importantly, he did, in fact, practice every day, albeit on a limited basis. He is listed as questionable, but there seems to be no danger of his consecutive start streak being broken. Favre has played with injuries far more serious than this. Nonetheless, he is a quarterback who makes plays with his feet. Stiffness and pain in the ankle could hamper his mobility and render him less effective in that area of his game. Expect him to play, but know that he may have to unload the ball more quickly if he can't escape the rush as easily.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals:
Palmer was a late addition to the injury reports this week, showing up Friday as limited in practice with soreness in his right (throwing) elbow. Coach Marvin Lewis pointed out that Palmer had been hit "quite a bit" in last week's matchup against the New York Giants, but in reality he has been getting hit quite a bit all season. The evidence? A broken nose in the preseason, a sprained ankle in Week 2, and now an elbow ailment.

But Palmer, according to the Bengals' official Web site, seemed to attribute his elbow issues to overuse. It is worth noting that soreness that typically occurs at the elbow associated with overuse is related to the muscles that control grip. Wide grip, such as is necessary to grip a football, is particularly taxing. If indeed this is an overuse issue, it could potentially hang around for a while, as in weeks. A mild case may not be of much concern, but if it continues to become aggravated as Palmer plays, it could be a bigger concern down the line.



Both Lewis and Palmer have suggested that the rest Friday means he will be ready to go Sunday, despite the questionable tag next to his name. If the elbow is still sore, it could affect his grip on the ball and his ability to throw hard. It will be interesting to see how he fares during the game and how his elbow responds afterward. At the moment, it does not appear that it will limit him terribly this Sunday, but it wouldn't hurt for him to get some better protection. I'm sure he wouldn't disagree.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers:
Tomlinson's performance Monday night was a welcome sight for Chargers fans and his fantasy owners. Although he is not 100 percent recovered from the injury to his big toe, LT certainly showed familiar sparks, especially when driving straight ahead. Cutting is still somewhat problematic, which is to be expected with this type of injury.

Tomlinson was able to practice more this week, also a good sign that his toe is improving. He is listed as probable and is expected to play. Tomlinson has enjoyed great success against the Raiders in the past and no doubt intends to try to maintain that trend.

Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens:
Finally, McGahee gets into the game to contribute, and we can breathe easier that he is past the recovery mode for his recent knee scope. Except then he gets poked in the eye. In fact, McGahee suffered enough of a cut on his eyelid that it caused a fair amount of swelling around his eye. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday because he was literally having difficulty seeing becuase of the swelling. Coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun that he would play Monday night "as long as he could see." Things seem to be going in the right direction, since McGahee was a full participant in Friday's practice. With a couple more days to further treat the eyelid, McGahee, listed as probable, should be good to go. Keep in mind that the running back committee of McGahee, Le'Ron McClain (also listed as probable on the injury report because of his ankle and back) and Ray Rice will likely be in play.

Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, RB, Vikings:
Peterson was limited in Week 3 by a hamstring strain sustained in Week 2. The best news coming out of last week's game was that Peterson said his hamstring felt good. Peterson was restricted in practice throughout the week, which makes good sense with a still-recovering muscle strain. Another week removed from injury means another week closer to healing, especially given that there appear to have been no setbacks. Although he is listed as questionable, expect Peterson to play.

Peterson's teammate Taylor has been added to the injury report because of his foot. Although specifics have been hard to come by, Taylor, too, was limited in practice. With his injury being more recent and Peterson on the upswing, expect Taylor, also listed as questionable, to play but Peterson is likely to resume the primary role.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings:
Rice sprained his knee (posterior cruciate ligament or PCL) in Week 2 and sat out Week 3 as a result. He remained limited in practice this week and is listed as questionable. Rice hopes to get in the game, but with a PCL injury, he has some instability in the knee. The key for him is whether he has adequate muscular strength to compensate for the stability deficit so that he can run, jump and land effectively enough to play the position and not risk further injury. He is also likely to be a game-time decision but could see some action.



Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders:
McFadden played in Week 3 despite suffering a turf toe injury the week before. He was not at his best, and appeared to have trouble with his footing on the turf. Whether that was attributable to his toe at all is uncertain, but he did wear a stiffer shoe to help support the toe, which does alter the ability to push off.

This week, McFadden was rested on Wednesday, then returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday; he is still not fully healed. But Justin Fargas is out with his still-healing groin injury (look for him to potentially return following the Raiders' Week 5 bye) and McFadden is again expected to start, despite the questionable designation. Michael Bush will no doubt get some work to spell McFadden, and given that he is not at full health, there is risk that McFadden exits early. Nonetheless, he is lined up to get the bulk of the work as of now.

Devin Hester, WR, Bears:
Hester is still experiencing enough pain to significantly restrict his practice activity. Hester, who sat out last week's game with torn cartilage in his ribs, does not appear ready to go just yet. He is listed as questionable for this week's game against the Eagles, but the relevance of his position cannot be underestimated. Yes, he is seeing time at wide receiver. But his most important role is as a kick returner and, as such, he is the target of an entire squad whose sole goal is to hit him and bring him down. He knows he will have to absorb impact and potentially a lot of it. His chances for playing do not appear great at this point, but he will be a game-time decision.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers:
Despite an injured hand at the end of last week's contest and a shoulder sprain the week before that, Roethlisberger has practiced all week and is off the injury report. Ah, the allure of Monday Night Football at home when you're a Steeler.



Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns:
Edwards was limited early in the week in practice with a shoulder injury, but was able to practice fully on Friday and is listed as probable for Sunday. Edwards played last week despite a listing as questionable, so his status has only improved. He did not do much last week, but he did catch the balls thrown his way, which was an improvement over the first two weeks. The Browns are likely to throw more his way this week, so expect his performance to go up again Sunday.

LenDale White, RB, Titans:
White made an early exit from practice Thursday with what the Titans called a shoulder problem, but it did not appear serious at the time. That appeared to be confirmed by the fact that White was a full participant in Friday's practice. He is listed as probable and is expected to play Sunday. White's physical style of running is likely to make him susceptible to bumps and bruises along the way. He showed last year that he could play through some discomfort, so this episode is not of great concern.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers:
Grant's hamstring has been the source of much concern for Packer fans and Grant's fantasy owners. His condition has steadily improved and this week he is off the injury report. Expect Grant to start Sunday. His hamstring should not hold him back, but the Tampa Bay defense might.

And a couple of IDP updates


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

Tommie Harris, DT, Bears:
Ongoing problems with his knee are the challenge for Harris. He is listed as questionable after not practicing at all this week. Very questionable indeed.

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 4.

Joey Galloway, WR, Buccaneers: Same story as last week: foot injury and 37 years old now. Bad combination. Galloway did not practice at all this week, so this is looking as if it could last a while.

Roscoe Parrish, WR, Bills: Parrish is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury, a la Marques Colston. Better replace him on your roster.

Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders: The groin injury that caused him to miss last week forces him to sit again. Look for him to possibly return in Week 6 after the Raiders' bye week. Meanwhile, McFadden and Bush pick up the load in Oakland.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints: Shockey had surgery this week to repair a sports hernia. Reports of his timetable vary widely, but based on the average recovery time for this procedure, plan on at least a four-week absence.

Jason Taylor, DE, Redskins: Taylor took a blow to the leg and had to undergo a procedure to drain the resulting blood and relieve the pressure on the nerves and blood vessels to his foot. Sounds bad, but the procedure is not complicated. The important thing is getting to it in time. Thankfully, that was the case for Taylor, but it will take him some time to recover. If he's on your IDP list, seek out a replacement.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: We have not been given the specifics of the injury that is forcing Parker to the sidelines, but when a coach says a player is "week-to-week" as Mike Tomlin did in his news conference this week, it does not sound good. Best to ensure that you have a 2-4 week replacement.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at 12 p.m. ET. Good luck in Week 4!

LT and Peterson to be limited at best

September, 20, 2008
9/20/08
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Talk about injury-themed trends. I'm not sure if it's a big-toe-injury trend. (LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Darren McFadden and Bernard Berrian are all dealing with these). Or maybe it's the I-drafted-him-as-my-top-running-back-but-he's-hurt trend. (Again LT makes the list, along with Adrian Peterson, Willis McGahee and Laurence Maroney.) Maybe it's the No. 1 and No. 2 guys-may-not-go trend if you own Justin Fargas and McFadden or Maroney and LaMont Jordan (or in the case of Seattle's wide receivers, the Nos. 1-5 and counting ... Can you believe that newly signed Koren Robinson is already on the injury report because of soreness in his knee?). Wherever you want to find a trend this year that links fantasy football and injuries, you can create one.

LaDainain Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers: Tomlinson remains a game-time decision. The question appears to be not so much whether he will, in fact, play but rather how much he will be able to contribute. Once again this week, Tomlinson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and then returned on a limited basis Friday. He does get the extra day of rest with the game on Monday night, but even then he will not be 100 percent.

This is one of the toughest calls of the week for fantasy owners who watched LT get tended to on the sidelines during the second half after contributing very little in the first half. He has a very positive attitude and clearly wants to be out on the field as much as he can, but it takes more than an upbeat tone to heal an injured big toe. He will likely play, but not at full strength, and the degree to which he is utilized will ultimately come down to how he feels as the game progresses.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: This is the second-toughest call of the week for fantasy owners. Peterson is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision. Working in the favor of fantasy owners is the fact that AP plays at 1 p.m. Heading into Sunday, Peterson's odds don't look so good. Peterson practiced on a limited basis Wednesday but then did not practice Thursday. He did some limited work Friday, but according to ESPN's John Clayton, was not able to do much and spent most of his time in the training room.

Peterson has an ailing hamstring, never good for running backs because they depend on their hamstrings not only for speed and explosiveness but for strength when trying to power through a line of would-be tacklers. Peterson's description of tightness and soreness that he has experienced throughout the week raises enough concern to consider resting him this weekend. The team will determine his status based upon how the leg feels during warm-ups, but bear in mind that he will not be at full tilt, even if he does start. Chester Taylor is likely to see some increased carries as a result.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: Run DMC, as he is called, is listed as probable and is expected to get the start with an ailing Fargas (doubtful with a groin injury that could sideline him for a few weeks) not likely to play. McFadden played well in Week 2 after Fargas' departure, but injured his big toe, the NFL ailment du jour, late in the game.

He sat out practice Wednesday, trading in his cleats for a walking boot to minimize motion at the great toe. McFadden returned to practice Thursday and, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, was able to take about 70 percent of his normal reps. McFadden complained of feeling flat-footed when he was outfitted with a steel plate to reinforce the cleat. The plate helps decrease stress on the big toe by limiting the flexibility of the shoe, but by doing that very thing, does not allow the runner to push off normally, hence the flat-footed feeling. McFadden also indicated the toe was sore, but seemed to adapt as practice went on. On the encouraging side, he was a full participant in Friday's practice, and that, along with his probable status, makes him a likely start. A word of caution to fantasy owners: He will not be at 100 percent strength or speed, and may yield some opportunities to Michael Bush, especially as the game progresses if the soreness in the toe becomes limiting.

Devin Hester, WR, Chicago Bears: No matter what you want to call Hester's injury -- torn cartilage, bruised ribs -- the bottom line is that it is a painful one that has kept him out of practice all week and will no doubt limit him greatly if he does play Sunday. In fact, I will be surprised if he is active given how uncomfortable and limited he has been thus far.

Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune reported that Hester originally described his injury as torn cartilage, only to later refer to it as "bruised ribs." Originally Hester injured himself Sunday when maneuvering to get out of bounds. The injury was not a result of contact, but apparently the result of Hester trying to extend his body to avoid contact. McClure also reported that Hester heard a "pop," which is typical when the cartilage separates from the bone. In addition to cartilage, there are numerous small muscles that attach between, over and across the ribs that contribute to rib and trunk motion, all of which can bleed in the event of an injury, adding to pain and swelling in the area. Hester's difficulty breathing for the first few days post-injury is very typical of any rib problem, because anything that causes movement, including breathing, stresses the injured area while it is trying to heal. Fast running, something Hester is noted for, means harder breathing, which translates to increased pain. Reaching, twisting, and, oh yes, taking hits from large humans running at full speed in your direction, can all compound the problem. Another week of rest can go a long way toward full recuperation. Hester may very well be watching from the sidelines this week.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: An AC sprain, a separated shoulder and a sore shoulder all mean the same thing when it comes to Roethlisberger: no big deal. He showed that he could play through the pain in Week 2. As long as he spends more time upright than landing on that shoulder, Roethlisberger, currently listed as probable, should start and perform without much problem.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: What a difference a week makes. Clark, who sat out last week with a sprained knee, returned to full practice this week and was not even on Friday's injury report. He is expected to start and contribute this week. Complementing the offense will be the addition of Jeff Saturday, who returns several weeks early from an MCL sprain. Saturday has had more than a week of solid practice and is looking forward to his return. Guess what, Jeff? So is Peyton Manning.

Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay Packers: This is why teams worry about hamstring injuries: they linger. Grant has been well managed by the Packers and has been able to play, but his limited performance this past week reflects the challenges presented by trying to push through these injuries. Grant, listed as probable, is expected to play again this week, and he was able to fully practice Friday despite being limited earlier in the week. But he's not yet 100 percent, so be guardedly optimistic.

Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Brown has been upgraded to probable this week and is likely to see his first action of the season. He may not start and may be used only in specific situations, according to Clayton. Might be best to watch him from a distance to see how he performs his first week back.

Justin Gage, WR, Tennessee Titans: It's not looking so good for Gage. He suffered a groin injury Sunday and was not really able to practice all week. Friday he performed only straight-line running, and with the groin or adductor muscles being so critical for directional changes, this suggests that he is still hurting. He is listed as questionable and will be a game-time decision, but don't be surprised if Gage sits this one out.

Laurence Maroney, RB, New England Patriots: Do you really think we have been given any hint as to what the problem is with Maroney's shoulder? Of course not, as per the Patriots' standard veil of secrecy. But we do know that he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, although he was able to do some limited work Friday. With teammate Jordan listed as doubtful with a foot injury and Maroney's status questionable, expect Sammy Morris to see some more work, as might Kevin Faulk. Of note, tight end Benjamin Watson may also see his first action of the year Sunday.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Cleveland Browns: This sort of snuck up on us. Edwards was limited all week in practice with a shoulder injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday. Clayton says there is a good chance he will still play, but it's unclear how much Edwards will look like himself this week. Teammate Jamal Lewis was limited all week with an ankle injury also, but his probable status is far more encouraging.

And a couple of IDP tidbits ...


Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay Packers: The toe that was bothering him last week appears to be improving. He is listed as probable and is expected to play.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, San Diego Chargers: The hip is better and so is his attitude. There will be less pain and hopefully fewer penalties.

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 "out" for Week 2.

Bob Sanders, CB, Indianapolis Colts: The punishment he inflicts on others makes itself felt on his body. Sanders has a high ankle sprain that will keep him out for four to six weeks and he may take advantage of the time to get his knee scoped as well. Bummer.

Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A foot injury. He's 37 this year. Bad combination.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and "Fantasy Football Now" at noon ET. Good luck in Week 3!

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