Stephania Bell: Brett Favre



It's the last week of the NFL regular season and for many fantasy players, this is the grand finale. Week 17 always presents unique challenges as many NFL teams with secure playoff bids opt to rest key players, leaving fantasy owners scrambling to set their final rosters. This year there are some NFL teams whose playoff hopes are still barely alive or who could (or should) be playing for pride, but injuries may still force their starters to rest. And in what could be the worst scenario for fantasy owners, some teams are considering starting their main players to keep them in the rhythm of game preparation and competition, but how much playing time they get is anyone's guess.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesMichael Vick suffered a thigh contusion early on against the Vikings, and the Eagles' loss Tuesday night does help make the decision to sit him easier.
So what is a fantasy owner to do? For starters, give thanks to those teams who have already announced key players as out. Sources tell the Philadelphia Inquirer the Philadelphia Eagles have, rather unsurprisingly, ruled out quarterback Michael Vick. His thigh contusion had him limping throughout Tuesday night's game and there is no reason to further risk his health. Kevin Kolb is expected to get the start after working with the first team Thursday.

The Florida Times-Union reports Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has undergone surgery to repair a torn ligament in the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand and faces a two-month recovery. Trent Edwards is poised to start in his absence. ... The Cincinnati Bengals announced via Twitter that wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will not make the trip to Baltimore because of his ankle. And, as a reminder, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates should not be on anyone's fantasy roster (if you were hoping for a miracle) as the team has placed him on injured reserve. At least savvy fantasy owners can get a jump on picking up unclaimed backups or other more appealing free-agent alternates for these players.



While the Week 17 fates have already been decided for some, there are many others still on the fence. Here's who else you might be concerned about heading into Sunday's games:

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireSaMark Sanchez is likely to start Week 17, but it's very possible he won't finish.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: Initially, it sounded as if Sanchez would be out for Week 17, but then coach Rex Ryan seemed to hint at his starting quarterback playing. Now it just sounds like a situation to avoid altogether. Sanchez's shoulder was sore heading into Week 16 and while it does not appear to be impacting him severely, the Jets might be concerned about him suffering a setback, which would be undesirable heading into the playoffs. That said, the New York Post reported Tuesday that Ryan was considering starting Sanchez "because he's hot right now." Ryan added, "We can't afford for him to take a dip. We need him to stay at this level." The Jets are trying to balance protecting Sanchez with keeping him in a rhythm, all of which points to a scenario where Sanchez starts but doesn't finish. The problem is there is no way of telling just how much playing time Sanchez will see. This is a situation for fantasy owners to avoid.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: On Tuesday, we outlined the injury concern for Hasselbeck and the team's plans to proceed as if Charlie Whitehurst will be under center. Hasselbeck clearly wants to play in Sunday night's game, and although he was not able to practice Wednesday or Thursday, he is rehabbing diligently with Sunday's goal in mind. As Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times reports, coach Pete Carroll thinks it's unlikely Hasselbeck will play but acknowledges the door is still open. "I'm totally convinced that he's waging a battle that's against the odds," said Carroll. "He's going to make a miracle comeback if he can." This could come down to a game-time decision.

Jon Kitna, Dallas Cowboys: According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kitna, who is dealing with a left abdominal oblique injury, says that all movement feels "like you have a knife in your side." As he sat out practice Wednesday, Kitna still held out hope for a Sunday return, but the pain he is experiencing certainly casts doubt on whether he will be able to throw the ball effectively. If Kitna does not play, Stephen McGee will get his first career start.

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Most fantasy owners would not rely on Favre to help them win their championship Sunday even if he does suit up. But they might consider Joe Webb, thus making Favre's injury status relevant. Favre has yet to pass required post-concussion tests, making it unlikely he'll play Sunday. Even beyond passing those tests, Favre would need to return to a graded exercise progression to be sure his symptoms did not recur with physical exertion. The window for Favre to be able to play is closing simply because of the narrow time factor. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Favre could repeat the tests Thursday or Friday and coach Leslie Frazier has not ruled him out for Sunday's game. Stay tuned, folks. By now everyone should know things can come down to the wire in Minnesota.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills: The Bills quarterback has missed two days of practice because of his knee and it's starting to raise concern about his availability for Sunday. Fitzpatrick has been sore for quite some time but the back-to-back missed practices are more troublesome. Brian Brohm has been practicing with the first team in his absence. Friday should be telling in forecasting who will start for the Bills.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Scott A. Miller/US PresswireIt's very possible Maurice Jones-Drew will miss two of the most critical weeks of the fantasy season.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew did not play in Week 16 because of persistent swelling in his knee, and it looks as if he may be sidelined again Sunday. Jones-Drew did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Rashad Jennings would start in his place against the Houston Texans.

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: Hillis did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, allowing his sore ribs some rest after taking a shot in the back Sunday. It sounds as if the Browns plan to have Hillis available to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their best chance for that is to rest him during the week.



Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: Listed on the official NFL injury report with a "toe" ailment, McFadden's status for Sunday is unclear. He did not practice Wednesday and the Oakland Tribune listed "ankle" next to his name as the reason. (On Tuesday, we noted there were conflicting reports about the nature of McFadden's injury.) The Tribune notes that McFadden participated in the morning walkthrough Thursday, suggesting he would practice, but his activity level remains to be seen. According to Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Tom Cable says McFadden could be a game-time decision.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Moreno managed to see some playing time in Week 16 but left the game early after aggravating his rib injury. Moreno did not practice Wednesday but was expected to practice Thursday in an effort to gear up for Week 17. After Correll Buckhalter's Week 16 effort, however, Sunday could turn into a time-share situation, especially if Moreno is less than 100 percent.

Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints: Ivory has been on the road to recovery from a hamstring injury for the past two weeks but has not been quite ready to play. Week 17 could be different as Ivory returned to full practice Thursday. Bush was listed on this week's injury report with a "chest" injury (SC joint per NFL Network) but practiced fully Thursday and does not appear in danger of missing Sunday's game.

Wide Receivers

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Coach Gary Kubiak announced early in the week that Johnson would not practice (he has not) and that Johnson would indicate whether he is able to play (he has not ... yet). Fantasy owners will likely be waiting until the bitter end to find out whether Johnson can indeed play against the Jaguars. As of now, there is no real hint which way the cards will fall, but Johnson is a competitor who will not give up simply because the Texans are out of the playoff race. Expect him to play if he feels he can contribute, but have a backup plan in place.

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireHakeem Nicks, who could miss Week 17 with a broken toe, is seventh in scoring among fantasy wide receivers despite missing two games with a leg injury.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: He has a broken toe, putting his Sunday status into question. The Newark Star-Ledger reports Nicks broke the big toe in his left foot in Sunday's game. When asked by reporters Wednesday if Nicks could play this weekend, coach Tom Coughlin's response was blunt and discouraging: "I doubt it." Fantasy owners who have benefited from Nicks' contributions week in and week out should attempt to find a replacement in a hurry.



Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: In what likely comes as a surprise to many, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports Colston underwent an arthroscopic surgical procedure on his knee Tuesday, according to coach Sean Payton. Duncan says the Saints are listing Colston as questionable, but fantasy owners should plan on him being absent for Sunday's game, just five days after surgery.



DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson did not practice Thursday because of his sore foot and it is looking as if he may not play this weekend. This could be another blow to those who might have been counting on some big points from this big playmaker. While the Eagles have not yet ruled Jackson out, fantasy owners would be wise to plan for a substitution.

Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings: It's not a setback with the hip but a concussion he suffered in Tuesday night's game that has Rice on the injury report. He did not practice Thursday and with the short week has less recovery time than normal. Rice has not yet been ruled out for Week 17 but fantasy owners should prepare for that possibility.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Although Johnson has not practiced this week because of a sprained ankle, he is still holding out hope he can play Sunday. Johnson told the Detroit Free Press he is "just taking it day by day," undergoing treatment and trying to ready himself for the game against the Vikings. On Tuesday, we noted that Lions coach Jim Schwartz had said Johnson could miss practice and still play. It would be nice to see Johnson on the field by Friday, however, as reassurance.



Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers: It looked to be all but certain that Floyd would miss Week 17 with his still ailing hamstring injury, now his second of the season. But Floyd showed up in practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis, enough to suggest he could be available for the Chargers' finale. Wait to see if Floyd can get through an entire week of practice without a setback before getting comfortable with him in your lineup.

Tight Ends

Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens: He returned to full practice Wednesday and Thursday, just in time to encourage fantasy owners for Week 17. It looks as if Heap is on track to play Sunday barring a setback.

Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots: Hernandez has been a limited participant in practice this week because of a hip injury. After missing Week 16, fantasy owners should be advised that despite returning to practice, Hernandez could still be held out of the game.

Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints: Shockey missed practice Thursday because of a groin injury. Jimmy Graham has clearly developed a rapport with quarterback Drew Brees and may be the better fantasy start, even if Shockey plays.

Have a Happy New Year and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 17 in the Saturday morning blog!



• If Adrian Peterson didn't kill your fantasy playoff hopes in Week 14, he just might have sealed the deal this week. Peterson, who had been nursing ankle and knee injuries but was expected to play Monday night, was instead a late scratch after pregame warm-ups did not go well. Although the injury report specifically listed "ankle, knee," coach Leslie Frazier had noted late last week that the thigh contusion Peterson suffered when he collided with Tarvaris Jackson in Week 15 was what was hampering him most. As it turns out, the thigh was what ultimately kept him off the field Monday night. Frazier indicated that the game being played outdoors did not factor into the decision to rest Peterson, telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune that, based on what he saw in pregame workouts, "It wouldn't have been wise to put him out there."



• Meanwhile, quarterback Brett Favre made an unexpected start but left early after suffering a concussion. When speaking with reporters after the game, Favre certainly sounded like someone who has played his last game. His medical status should be updated later this week, but it appears Joe Webb really will start in Week 16.

• Once again, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers could not deliver fantasy points for your team as he was still recovering from a concussion. Unlike Week 14, however, fantasy owners had warning this time around. The positive takeaway is that Rodgers did travel with the team to New England and was wearing a headset on the sideline, indicating he had made some progress during the week. Still, the decision for him to rest was a medical one, and Rodgers will continue to be evaluated throughout the week to determine whether he will be able to return Sunday. Although his progress thus far is encouraging, it does not ensure he will pass all tests by Sunday, so fantasy owners should continue to have a backup plan.

[+] EnlargeAustin Collie
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireAustin Collie suffered yet another concussion in Week 15, putting his season in jeopardy.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie returned to action for the first time in a month and was delivering an excellent performance -- until he exited the game with yet another concussion. The sight of Collie motionless after another blow was disheartening and distressing, but this time he was able to walk off the field under his own power, escorted by the medical staff. The Colts remain cautious regarding Collie's health, as expected, yet they have not ruled out his return to play, either.



Coach Jim Caldwell emphasized to reporters Monday that any determination regarding Collie's return to practice or play is entirely up to the medical staff. After complimenting the skill of the Colts' medical personnel, Caldwell said, "Here's the thing, there is not a coach that makes any decision on anyone who has a concussion or anything of that nature. It's a medical decision."



Colts team president Bill Polian perhaps summed up the situation with Collie best, saying, "At this point we're certainly going to err, and we did last time when he missed a month, but we're certainly going to err so far on the side of caution you won't be able to see the other side. So we'll see how it goes. But it's too early in the week to make any kind of a judgment." Polian added that the team will want to see how Collie responds in the next 48 hours. Although the team will refrain from making a hasty announcement, fantasy owners should prepare for the likelihood that Collie will not be available in Week 16 against the Oakland Raiders.

Houston Texans running back and fantasy star Arian Foster left this week's game early, as well, but the nature of his injury was unclear. Foster had been listed on last week's injury report with a hip ailment that cropped up during Thursday practice. He was designated probable heading into the game, however, suggesting that the injury was not serious and was no major threat to his status. Immediately after the game, coach Gary Kubiak sounded as if he thought Foster's ankle was the problem. Foster later told the Houston Chronicle that he had a "muscle spasm in [my] glute." In other words, a spasm in his, ahem, rear end. The good news is that the overall picture is good for Foster heading into Week 16, but fantasy owners should monitor how he fares in practice throughout the week.

[+] EnlargeKnowshon Moreno
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireKnowshon Moreno dealt with hamstring injuries earlier in the season, but it was a rib injury that limited him against the Raiders.
Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno has been fairly healthy since overcoming his early-season hamstring injuries. In Sunday's game against the Raiders, however, Moreno took a shot to the ribs in the first quarter, forcing him out of the game. Bruised ribs can be very difficult for a running back to play through, and Moreno's status is uncertain heading into this week's contest against the Texans. Moreno is not the only Bronco with a rib injury; quarterback Kyle Orton's ribs are to blame, in part, for his not starting in Week 15. According to The Denver Post, coach Eric Studesville will start Tim Tebow this weekend over Orton. Studesville said the decision came as a result of Orton's injury and Tebow's decent performance Sunday in Oakland.

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates continues to be held out of practice, and we likely will not learn his status until game time approaches. There were rumblings this past week that Gates might not return for the rest of the regular season because of limitations with his still healing foot. Meanwhile, his teammate Malcom Floyd, who did not play in Week 15 after a setback with his injured hamstring, could return Sunday when the Chargers travel to Cincinnati. Floyd did not practice Monday, but coach Norv Turner told The San Diego Union-Tribune, "I think we've made progress." The team will not make any projections as far as Floyd's availability until at least Wednesday.

• The Chargers will not have to account for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens this week. Owens, who was already dealing with a knee issue heading into Week 15, aggravated the condition (reportedly a meniscus tear) and is done for the year after being placed on injured reserve.



• The Detroit Lions aren't naming a starting quarterback just yet, but it very well could be the return of Shaun Hill. Hill has missed time with a broken right index finger but returned to light practice last week. Drew Stanton, who had been filling in for Hill, separated his left (non-throwing) shoulder, according to the Detroit Free Press. Impressively, he was able to finish the game after taking a painkilling injection at halftime, but he might be sidelined this week for Hill. The Lions might not announce their decision until Sunday.

• It looks as if the Pittsburgh Steelers could have tight end Heath Miller back in the lineup Thursday night. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, coach Mike Tomlin said, "We anticipate Heath being fine." Miller has missed the past two games while recovering from a concussion.

• The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber and wide receiver Roy E. Williams were present for the team's walk-through practice. Barber has missed several weeks with a calf strain, and Williams sat out Week 15 with a groin injury. Meanwhile, quarterback Tony Romo finally was placed on injured reserve. Stay tuned.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 16 on Thursday and Saturday!

Good news for Cassel, bad for Rodgers

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
1:45
PM ET


This week's Thursday night matchup has the San Diego Chargers hosting the San Francisco 49ers.

[+] EnlargeAntonio Gates
AP Photo/Denis PoroyIt appears unlikely we'll see Antonio Gates suit up for the Thursday night game.
The Chargers continue to rotate their injured players to set a game roster. It appears both running backs (Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews) are finally healthy, but the status of their wide receivers is still in question. Malcom Floyd is listed as questionable heading into the game, although it sounds as if he could be available. Floyd did not practice Wednesday after a limited workout Tuesday, but Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests that this may be due, in part, to the Chargers' short week. Nonetheless, it suggests that Floyd is not completely past the hamstring injury, and with that in mind it is hard to know what to expect from him as far as productivity, even if he plays.

Vincent Jackson, who injured his calf in his 2010 debut, is now off the injury report and is clearly expected to start. Legedu Naanee, who dealt with setbacks of his own the past two weeks following a hamstring injury, is probable after full practice Tuesday and Wednesday. The most notable fantasy star of the group, tight end Antonio Gates, is not expected to play this week. The team lists him as doubtful and he has not been able to practice because of pain in his foot. Keep in mind, if Gates rests this week, by the time of the Chargers' Week 16 contest he will have been out close to three weeks. The reprieve might be able to help him return and contribute at that point. But expect Randy McMichael to start at tight end for the Chargers this week.

For the visiting 49ers, there are not many question marks from a fantasy perspective. Running back Brian Westbrook is listed as probable for non-injury-related reasons and is fully expected to play. On the defensive side of the ball, linebackers Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes have been practicing with casts on their right hands this week. Although both are listed as questionable, they are expected to play.

Here's who else you might be concerned about heading into Week 15:

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireMatt Cassel could be ready to play, just over one week since undergoing an appendectomy.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis. While no one is committing to Cassel being the starter Sunday, the fact he's back on the practice field has to at least be considered encouraging. This no doubt will be a situation in which he is progressed daily, as able. If all goes well, there is a good chance he could return to face the St. Louis Rams.

Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers is looking less likely to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports Rodgers has not even been allowed to return to the Packers' practice facility. Clearly, the medical staff wants his brain to rest, meaning no film study, no game plan preparation and no activity whatsoever that could interfere with healing. In the absence of any preparation, coupled with the likelihood that Rodgers will miss the entire week of practice (coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers will not practice Wednesday or Thursday and his chances of working Friday are "slim to none"), it is hard to imagine he will be ready to absorb all of the mental and physical load required to start Sunday's game. Fantasy owners should prepare to start another quarterback this week.

• Fantasy owners should know at this point that they cannot count on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre to play. While his status remains up in the air, there are so many question marks heading into Monday night -- including whether the game will indeed be played outdoors at the University of Minnesota's stadium -- that's it's best to avoid the situation. Tarvaris Jackson has a turf toe injury and has now been placed on injured reserve, making Joe Webb the likely starter, although he has a hamstring issue of his own. The Vikings signed Patrick Ramsey as insurance. Stand clear of these quarterbacks.

• As far as the other Vikings with injury concerns, running back Adrian Peterson, who did not help his fantasy owners last week, is dealing with a knee contusion that is not expected to limit him this week. Maybe if you're still in the playoffs, he can help make it up to you Monday night. Wide receiver Percy Harvin has missed the past two games because of migraines, but coach Leslie Frazier says he expects Harvin to return to practice this week. With the Vikings not playing until Monday night, there will be no official practice report until Thursday night, but at least early signs are positive for these two.

• The Cleveland Browns are making Colt McCoy the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. It sounds as if the ankle issue is far enough behind him to no longer be a concern to the team.

Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton was held to limited practice Wednesday because of "soreness" in his throwing arm and his ribs. The Denver Post reports coach Eric Studesville referred to Orton's condition as "bumps and bruises" and does not seem overly concerned about his quarterback's availability this weekend. Teammate Brandon Lloyd showed up on Wednesday's injury report as a non-participant in practice because of his calf. Whether this was some helpful midweek rest or an injury to be concerned about should become apparent as the week progresses.

[+] EnlargeMike Williams
Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireMike Williams had two straight 100-yard games in Weeks 10 and 11 before dealing with his injuries.
• The Seattle Seahawks seem to be getting some good news on the wide receiver front. Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu returned to full practice Wednesday. Williams has been struggling with foot and ankle injuries and was not able to play in Week 14. Full practice early in the week is a strong indicator of his availability, barring a setback. Obomanu, who also missed Week 14 with a laceration on his right hand that interfered with his catching ability, has returned to practice, but the Seattle Times reports that he is still adjusting to playing with something on his hands. Says Obomanu: "I personally like no tape on my fingers, no tape on my wrists or anything, but I'm going to have to do a lot of tape, experiment devices and things to make sure; I have to protect my hand No. 1, but still give me comfort to be able to catch the ball, too." The good news is he's working on getting comfortable early in the week, meaning he too should be available Sunday.

• The New York Giants' wide receiver news was not so positive to start the week. Steve Smith, who returned in Week 14 from a pectoral strain, left the game after one catch when he injured his knee. The Giants released a statement Wednesday indicating that Smith suffered articular cartilage damage and would be placed on season-ending injured reserve. His teammate, Hakeem Nicks, fared much better in his return from injury, catching seven passes for 96 yards, and emerged no worse for the wear, not even appearing on Wednesday's injury report. He will likely be Eli Manning's big target with Smith out and Mario Manningham questionable this week. Manningham left Monday's game early with what was called a hip flexor strain and did not practice Wednesday. We will see what Manningham is able to do later in the week, but he tells ESPN New York that he plans to play in the team's big matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.



• Some fantasy owners may have been concerned seeing Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw with his wrist and forearm on ice Monday night. Bradshaw is not on the team's injury report this week, consistent with his assurances that the wrist is "fine."



• Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and premature touchdown celebrator DeSean Jackson did not practice Wednesday because of a sprained foot. The team is calling him day-to-day according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, but it's hard to imagine him sitting this big game out. Stay tuned.

• The Baltimore Ravens won their Monday night game without the services of tight end Todd Heap, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Heap was listed as a non-participant Wednesday, although the team only held a walkthrough. Fantasy owners should prepare for the eventuality that Heap may not be available again this week, but his practice status going forward should give better clues.

[+] EnlargePierre Thomas
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesPierre Thomas had 68 total yards against the Rams in his first game since Week 3 and appears to be on pace for more touchdes.
• Here's something we haven't seen in a long time: Running back Pierre Thomas is not even listed on the New Orleans Saints' injury report. That's good news for Thomas, who saw his first game action in over two months on Sunday. Teammate Chris Ivory left last week's game early with a hamstring injury, which perhaps accounted for Thomas getting a few extra touches in his first game back. Ivory was listed as limited Wednesday, and his status near the end of the week likely will influence what we expect from Thomas on Sunday.



Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller is back in full practice and his performance last Sunday was the best fantasy owners have seen in a while. If Miller can continue to practice daily without a setback, he might be worth a consideration for your fantasy team, with a matchup against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber returned to limited practice Wednesday. Barber has been out since injuring his calf in the Thanksgiving Day game. As the San Antonio Express News reports, however, this may only add to the rotation at running back for the Cowboys. While Barber is far from a lock to play Sunday, when he does return he potentially adversely affects the fantasy running back scenario. Owners of Tashard Choice will want to keep an eye on Barber's status throughout the week. Meanwhile, ESPN Dallas reports wide receiver Roy E. Williams suffered a groin injury in Wednesday's practice. No word as to the seriousness of Williams' ailment, but it will be worth watching what he is able to do the remainder of the week.

• The Indianapolis Colts continue to watch players on the injury carousel. Running back Joseph Addai looks to be status quo with limited practice Wednesday. Wide receiver Austin Collie was a full participant Wednesday, though, and if he maintains that throughout the week it could signal his return Sunday. The big question then will be how Peyton Manning divides up the passes. After Pierre Garcon's big fantasy performance last Thursday, it's a little harder to anticipate who will be the lead scorer. Tight end Jacob Tamme remains on the injury report but was a full participant in practice. Expect him to play again this week.

See you at the injury chat on Friday at 3 p.m., and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 15 in the Saturday morning blog!



If you survived the first round of fantasy playoffs, it probably was due to help from where you least expected it. It certainly wasn't thanks to Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson. It wasn't thanks to either Mike Williams or Antonio Gates. They all may have helped you get to the playoffs but they weren't able to deliver for you in Week 14. No, your help may have come from the unexpected return of the 2009 version of Pierre Garcon; the big-time contribution of Deion Branch in weather no one is supposed to score in; or even the ridiculous point total of kicker Jay Feely, who outscored most skill-position players and got a game ball, to boot.

It all serves to remind us that despite our best efforts to strategize and maneuver our rosters, there are some things we just cannot foresee. Still, we can at least consider the injury woes facing our rosters and with that in mind, we look ahead to Week 15.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers' second concussion could keep him out of this week's game. Many fantasy owners probably lost key games last week when he was hurt.
• A big part of the reason Aaron Rodgers could not deliver fantasy points for your team is that he was knocked out of Sunday's game with a concussion. As has become the standard, Rodgers will go through the battery of post-concussion tests and clearances before he is eligible to return to play. This is Rodgers' second concussion this season. His first, in Week 5, did not cause him to miss any playing time. While coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "We're not going to take any chances [with Rodgers]," we have to presume the standards to return to play are the same as they have been throughout the year. Bottom line: How Rodgers feels and progresses through his tests this week will determine his playing status for Sunday. Fantasy owners should have insurance in the event that Rodgers cannot go.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel did not make the trip to San Diego this week after undergoing an appendectomy Wednesday. However, Cassel tells the Kansas City Star he is preparing to play this week. Said Cassel, "I'll do what I normally do. It will be a normal week of preparation." At least mentally. We won't get an idea of Cassel's physical readiness until the Chiefs resume practice later in the week, but the notion of a return Sunday is certainly within reason. He will be evaluated medically on a daily basis and progress accordingly.

• The Minnesota Vikings did not have Percy Harvin available for Week 14 after migraines kept him out of practice all week. The Vikings hope to have Harvin back in practice this week, which would increase the likelihood of his availability for the Monday night game against the Chicago Bears. Head coach Leslie Frazier told ESPN 1500 that the team expects Harvin back Thursday when practice resumes, "barring any unforeseen situation." Maybe by then we'll also know where that game will be played. Running back Adrian Peterson bumped knees with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in the first quarter and exited Monday's game briefly but returned shortly afterward. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, he wasn't productive. We'll see if that changes against the Bears.

• As for Harvin's teammate Brett Favre, we knew his consecutive start streak would come to an end sooner or later and alas, Monday night, it was put to rest. He suffered a sprained sternoclavicular joint in Week 13 and even with a one day reprieve granted by Mother Nature in the form of a Minnesota blizzard, it wasn't enough to postpone the inevitable. But the SC sprain wasn't to blame in its entirety. It turns out that Favre suffered a pinched nerve in his neck during the game where the Vikings faced the Washington Redskins a week earlier and had been experiencing some tingling in his hand ever since. The hit that injured his SC joint in Week 13 also aggravated the tingling in his arm and hand, which ultimately may have been more responsible for Favre's inability to suit up than the pain at the front of his chest. As Favre told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "It's not so much the pain. There is a little pain, but that's subsided some. It's the tingling. I think it would be foolish to even consider playing if you don't have total feeling in five fingers." Favre said he was scheduled to undergo further tests Tuesday after which everyone should have a better idea of what his status will be going forward.

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas returned to action for the first time in more than two months. Thomas caught a few passes and ran the ball 12 times, partly due the early departure of Chris Ivory with a right hamstring injury. There is no word of yet on the seriousness of Ivory's injury, but if he is sidelined, Thomas' value goes up.



[+] EnlargeSteve Smith
AP Photo/Carlos OsorioThe Giants' Steve Smith, already dealing with a pectoral injury, hurt his hamstring Monday and was limited to just one catch for 12 yards.
• The New York Giants saw the return of two injured wide receivers in Week 14. Both Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith were back in the mix, but unfortunately Smith was forced out of the game with a different injury. Smith, who was playing with a shoulder harness to protect his still-healing pectoral muscle, suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter. Nicks, coming back from a surgical procedure on his lower leg, looked strong, as expected, which should give fantasy owners confidence going forward. Wide receiver Mario Manningham entered the game healthy but left in the second quarter with what was termed a hip flexor injury. Later in the week we should get better clues about the status of the Giants' receivers.

• The Seattle Seahawks were without receivers Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu this week. Williams was nursing a foot and ankle injury on the same leg and Obomanu had a deep laceration on his right hand that made it impossible for him to catch the ball. Coach Pete Carroll sounded quite confident Monday when he said he expects both receivers to be in practice Wednesday. According to the Daily Herald in Everett, Wash., Carroll said, "Both those guys will practice this week, yeah," adding that he expects both to be available for Sunday's home game against the Atlanta Falcons. We'll see if that holds true. The Seahawks have had a tough road with their wide receiver health, also losing Deon Butler on Sunday to a broken leg that required surgery to implant a rod for stabilization.



San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates surprised many by not being able to play in Week 14 after gutting out the two previous weeks. His absence was a reflection of just how much pain he is still having, especially considering that earlier in the week Gates had announced he would play. On Sunday, Gates sounded uncertain about the rest of his season, but Monday he reiterated his commitment to trying to get back out to contribute, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune, "I do everything I can every day to get healthy." Getting healthy -- or at least healthier -- may mean sitting out Thursday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. If Gates rests until Week 16, he will have essentially given his foot a three-week hiatus, which could prove beneficial for pain relief. Fantasy owners should prepare for an alternate this week; at best, Gates' status will likely be a game-time decision.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Lee Evans injured his ankle in Sunday's contest and looks as if he could be done for the year. According to the team's official website, head coach Chan Gailey said of Evans, "I know it's going to be two [games], and it might even be a struggle for him to get back for the last one." Not exactly encouraging.

• Both Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai and wide receiver Austin Collie were present at the team's light workout Monday. Both have been practicing on a limited basis for the past two weeks, however, and still have not been cleared to return to play, so fantasy owners should not be overly excited by this news.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 15 on Thursday and Saturday!

Matt Cassel undergoes appendectomy

December, 9, 2010
12/09/10
5:16
PM ET


This week's Thursday night matchup has the Tennessee Titans hosting the Indianapolis Colts.

For the Titans, wide receiver Kenny Britt is off the injury report and is expected to see his first game action since tearing his hamstring six weeks ago. While his recent practice activity and this "noninjury" status are good news, he is still not out of the woods. Hamstring strains, as we've seen many times this season, are very susceptible to aggravation. For that reason, especially given the severity of Britt's injury, it would not be surprising for Britt to see a light workload in his first game back. Fantasy owners who have better options may want to hold him for this week, but if he comes through unscathed, he could be very valuable the rest of the way.

For the Colts, the injury list remains as lengthy as ever. Already ruled out are Austin Collie, Joseph Addai and Mike Hart. None of those three being out is particularly surprising, but it does make those with a questionable status more critical. Donald Brown was on the injury report because of his ankle, but the injury appears to be minor. He practiced fully Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to start. Tight end Jacob Tamme is listed as questionable with a knee ailment (note that early in the week it was called a hamstring). Tamme returned to limited practice Wednesday after sitting out early in the week. My sources seem to think he will play and that he may have been given additional rest because of the short week. Nonetheless, be sure to check game-time inactive reports. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, also listed as questionable, practiced fully Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to play, as he always does.



Here's who else you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 14 playoff rounds:

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
Tim Umphrey/Getty ImagesIt's very possible Matt Cassel could play just days after an appendectomy, but it would be very risky for fantasy owners.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: Cassel might be the most discussed injury concern in the past 24 hours as it was discovered that Cassel underwent a laparoscopic appendectomy on Wednesday morning. Essentially, he had his appendix removed using a more modern, less invasive approach that includes a scope or camera, as opposed to the old-fashioned "open" procedure which is a bigger cut and longer recovery.

The big question for fantasy owners, since the Chiefs have indicated Cassel's status is questionable and that there is really a 50 percent chance he plays, is will he indeed suit up against division rival the San Diego Chargers?

The answer: Maybe, but fantasy owners need to have insurance and probably should look elsewhere for a playoff-round quarterback.

To better outline the variables involved in determining whether Cassel could play this weekend, I spoke with Dr. Efren Rosas, Chief of Surgery at Kaiser Permanente in San Jose, Calif. Rosas has performed thousands of laparoscopic procedures and is an advocate of the less invasive approach, in part, because of the more rapid recovery for the patient. He was quick to say that not all laparoscopic procedures are identical, nor are all presentations of appendicitis, and several factors could influence whether Cassel could be available Sunday. It should be noted that Rosas has no specific knowledge regarding Cassel's care.

First comes the question of whether Cassel had a three-incision or single-incision surgery (in other words, how many surgical cuts are there on the abdomen). Three incisions are more standard, although one incision is gaining popularity in some places (such as Los Angeles), because there is only one surgical scar. With three cuts, each incision can be smaller, whereas with one cut, all of the surgical instruments have to pass through the same entry so the cut is larger. Following surgery, smaller incisions (typically one-quarter to one-half inch in size) mean less likelihood of developing a hernia (where abdominal contents push outward -- not pretty). That translates to less activity restriction after surgery with three incisions versus one.



Rosas, who treats patients of all ages, including competitive athletes, said, "I release all my patients, no matter what type of job or sport they have, to return at two weeks and if they're doing really well, they're clear within one." When asked if four days would be possible for an NFL quarterback, Rosas said that while it may not be likely, "If he's not too sore and can function effectively, I wouldn't completely rule it out." Rosas pointed out that from a medical standpoint, the tissue should heal within a few days, and that the biggest limitation, presuming no setbacks (such as infection) along the way, would be pain from where the surgical cuts were made. That pain may be amplified by the fact that a throwing athlete uses his oblique abdominal muscles, especially for distance and velocity, meaning long downfield throws might be tougher to make.

Another variable would be the condition of the appendix at the time of surgery. A severely inflamed or ruptured appendix would result in significant abdominal inflammation, complicating the recovery. A minor case of appendicitis in a healthy younger male may mean less inflammation in the surrounding tissue and quicker healing time. Only the surgeon who was involved in Cassel's case has an appreciation for all of the factors in play and ultimately will make the decision as to Cassel's status when appropriate.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent a laparoscopic appendectomy in 2006 and did not play in the first game of the season, a Thursday night game just days after surgery. Roethlisberger did start 10 days later in Week 2. It is worth noting, however, that Roethlisberger also was coming off a summer filled with injuries, having suffered facial fractures, a jaw fracture and a concussion in a motorcycle accident about three months earlier.



It would not be surprising if Cassel were to travel to San Diego with the team and ultimately be held back from starting. And although it appears unlikely, it's not completely inconceivable that he could play. Nonetheless, this is a fantasy situation to avoid for many reasons. This is a late game, so Cassel would likely be listed as questionable at best and even if he starts, may prove not quite up to finishing. It's best to wait a week and see how he's faring. The Chiefs may ultimately opt to do the same.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger has a recently surgically repaired nose to go with his ailing right foot this week. Actually, the rest for his nose may have given his foot a little extra time off. Roethlisberger has been fitted with a protective shield that he will wear Sunday. Most importantly, there has been really no doubt about the fact he is expected to play.



Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: As of this writing, Favre has not yet tested his throwing. Thursday was to be the test date. Favre rested the arm early in the week to allow his sprained sternoclavicular (SC) joint some healing time. Tick tock ...

Running Backs

Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins: Torain was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice although, according to The Washington Post, coach Mike Shanahan indicated that Torain did full work. Torain told the Post that he "feels great" and is eager to get back into the lineup. It looks as though he is on pace to rejoin his team on the field this week. Torain has essentially been out since Halloween after injuring his hamstring that day. He tried to return a couple of weeks later but aggravated the injury in warm-ups. Naturally, there will be some concern as to how Torain's hamstring will fare in his first game in over a month, and more concern over how the workload will be divided. Torain is likely to resume a lead role, but whether fantasy owners can count on that in his first outing is questionable.



Wide Receivers

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesHakeem Nicks has missed the past two games with a leg injury, so if he returned this week, it would be a week ahead of schedule.
Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, New York Giants: This tandem affects many fantasy rosters and everyone is eager to see what its status is for this week. Nicks was able to do about 60 percent of team drills Wednesday, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. Nicks seemed confident that he would be playing; the medical staff gave him the official clearance Thursday, according to Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger. Nicks practiced on a limited basis again Thursday, and if Friday goes well, looks as if he'll play. Teammate Smith has been practicing on a limited basis as well but also appears as if he'll return to game action this week. Smith has been nursing a partially torn pectoral muscle.

Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee, San Diego Chargers: The Chargers face a critical game without some critical personnel. Then again, that won't be a new scenario for them as they've played musical chairs at the wide receiver position all season. Jackson is still recovering from his calf strain and while it still seems likely that he will not play this weekend, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Jackson did practice on Thursday. Naanee, who had come back from a hamstring strain two weeks ago but suffered a setback, is unlikely to play. That leaves Floyd, who so far is doing well. Or at least well enough to not be on the injury radar right now. It appears that Floyd will play this week and likely have more opportunities.

Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu, Seattle Seahawks: Williams has an ankle sprain superimposed on his foot injury and it's not looking good for him as of now. Although the Tacoma News-Tribune reports Williams is out of his walking boot, he has not practiced and likely won't all week. While the Seahawks hold out some hope that Williams could feel well enough to play Sunday, even they don't sound overwhelmingly convinced. Obomanu suffered a deep laceration on his right hand that could make it difficult to catch balls. As a receiver, that does comprise a significant portion of the job description, meaning this injury may prevent him from being able to play. Obomanu will also have until Sunday to see how his hand is healing, but they could both be late-afternoon game-time decisions.



Tight Ends

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: Gates' condition hasn't changed much, but his status midweek has. Gates told the San Diego Union-Tribune "Antonio Gates will play," acknowledging the third-person reference. Maybe it's easier to deal with the pain by taking oneself out of one's body. He admits the pain is still excruciating but knows this is a must-win situation. Barring some unforeseen dramatic setback, Gates will gut it out again.

Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens: Heap's own words belied his concern about his injured hamstring. Heap told the Baltimore Sun that he has rushed back in the past from a hamstring injury, "and that pretty much cost me the rest of the season." The Ravens play on Monday night and Heap has not practiced this week, both of which signal to fantasy owners that they should seek a replacement.

Other


• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin did not practice Wednesday or Thursday as he continues to battle his latest migraine episode. Fantasy owners need to at least start being a bit concerned, as Harvin sat out Week 13 and has not returned to practice.



• Vikings running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart were limited early in the week but, at this point, seem in no danger of sitting out. Proactive rest seems to be the rationale here.

• In addition to their wide receiver concerns, the New York Giants saw running back Ahmad Bradshaw on the injury report this week because of his wrist. Bradshaw did not practice Wednesday but returned to full practice Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and he's scored just one touchdown all season.
Miami Dolphins wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline are both on the injury report this week. Marshall has resumed limited practice after sitting out another game in Week 13 and appears on track to play this Sunday. Hartline had surgery on his finger and was not in practice Wednesday. There has been some concern as to whether he would return at all this season. The Dolphins have not formally ruled him out but it appears he will miss Week 14, maybe longer. This might mean a lot of Davone Bess.

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas continues to practice fully this week and is expected to return to the playing field Sunday. Chris Ivory is probably in no danger of losing significant touches, but Thomas owners who have patiently held on to him may want to keep an eye on how he performs. He could have value in the home stretch.

Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best (toes), and wide receivers Calvin Johnson (groin) and Nate Burleson (hamstring) all appear on the injury report this week but all are expected to play Sunday.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker returned to limited practice Wednesday after missing Week 13 with his high ankle sprain. This is somewhat encouraging, but given that Sims-Walker reported his injury as a high ankle sprain, we need to see him successfully complete the week before getting too excited.



• The Tampa Bay Buccaneers version of Mike Williams is nursing a sore knee which could present a problem for Sunday. According to the St. Petersburg Times, coach Raheem Morris says Williams has been working through this "for a couple of weeks." The Buccaneers are hopeful that some rest during the week will allow him to play Sunday but he could be a game-time call.

Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller continues to be limited by his foot, which seriously impacted his pass-catching productivity. It's hard to hope for much based on the past few weeks and fantasy owners should be securing another option at least for early playoff rounds. The bad news for tight ends moves over to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Heath Miller was on the receiving end of a scary hit last Sunday night that left him with a concussion. Miller did not practice Wednesday and is not expected to play this week. Fortunately in Atlanta, Tony Gonzalez's sprained ankle does not appear to be affecting his chances of playing Sunday. He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he would be fine, adding, "Especially at my age, I have to enjoy this." Gonzalez sees the playoffs coming and he's not going to miss out.



See you at Friday's injury chat (3-4:00 p.m.) and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 14 in the Saturday morning blog!

p>This just in. The New England Patriots are a pretty good team. Just as important for fantasy owners, their key skill position players are pretty healthy too. Enough said. The New York Jets' skill position players are actually fairly healthy. Let's hope that their performance Monday night -- or lack thereof -- didn't cost you a playoff spot.

As we approach fantasy playoff time, every player on your fantasy roster matters. It's not just a question of who's active or not, it's whether that active player can be productive, especially if he's coming off an injury or trying to play through one.



With that in mind, here's who fantasy owners might be concerned about heading into Week 14:

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
AP Photo/Hannah FoslienA clavicle injury is the latest ailment that threatens Brett Favre's consecutive games streak.
• Why not start with the one player who seems to draw the most attention when he's injured? Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre lasted only a few plays Sunday before exiting with what is being called a sprained sternoclavicular (SC) joint. The SC joint is where the clavicle (collarbone) meets the sternum (breastbone). In other words, the joint is located right at the center of the chest, just below the neck. Because the other end of the clavicle forms the point of the shoulder (acromioclavicular or AC joint), an injury to the SC joint will affect the ability to throw. The SC joint is protected by strong ligaments to help prevent displacement of the clavicle and injuries here are relatively uncommon, but can occur, usually as a result of trauma. In sports, the trauma is either a direct hit to the joint (kick or blow to the chest) or a fall on the shoulder which translates force through the clavicle, injuring the joint. There can be a fracture or break of the clavicle (there was no fracture in Favre's case) or a sprain.

A sprain is any ligament injury, and as with all sprains, the degree of ligament damage determines the severity of the sprain. In Favre's case, we do not know the degree of sprain, so this could range from minor ligament damage to subluxation or displacement resulting from more serious ligament damage. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, coach Leslie Frazier said doctors did not tell him the degree of sprain but did say the injury is "not something that can surgically be attended to." The fact that Favre did not require surgery tells us that it was not the most serious version of a subluxed SC joint (typically where the collarbone is displaced behind the sternum, dangerously encroaching on delicate structures). In the absence of a surgical situation, the standard treatment is rest and ice to help control pain and swelling, perhaps some treatment of the soft tissue in the area which may be in spasm (some of the neck muscles, for instance) and then a lot of wait and see. Sometime a few days of rest will allow the bulk of the pain to resolve, depending on the severity of the injury.

Presuming Favre is medically cleared to play, the main concern will be whether he is able to throw the ball effectively. Doctors can provide pain-relieving injections for the game, but given the location of the injury, there is no external brace or harness that would offer much in the way of support. It's always important, however, to place an athlete's injury in the context of that particular player. Favre has started 297 consecutive games. If he doesn't start this week, do we really expect Favre to start again in two or three weeks? Is his career going to end with him sidelined because of pain (as opposed to not being medically cleared to play), thus fading away into the end of the season? It's a hard scenario to envision. While he may have no choice if the injury is insurmountable, at this point it's too early to bet against him. As far as fantasy owners are concerned, there are better choices at quarterback for Week 14. This could come down to a game-time decision and even if Favre starts, it's always possible that he doesn't finish. This situation is too risky on which to hang fantasy playoff hopes.

• Sticking with the Vikings, running back Adrian Peterson actually seemed to emerge from the game better than when he started it! Three touchdowns and over 100 yards would make anyone feel better, but most importantly, Peterson's ankle reportedly felt no worse after all the work. He should be good to go again this Sunday.

[+] EnlargeRoethlisberger
Rafael Suanes/US PresswireBen Roethlisberger's foot seemed to hold up Sunday, but he emerged from the game with a broken nose.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his face slightly rearranged Sunday night by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. As if Roethlisberger's ailing foot wasn't enough, he endured a bloody and broken nose and emerged victorious. Pretty impressive. Roethlisberger underwent surgery Monday to reset his nose and is expected to miss some practice time this week, which probably benefits his right foot as well. The Steelers plan to have him available Sunday.

Carolina Panthers running back Mike Goodson sprained his right AC joint late in the game Sunday. According to the Gaston Gazette, Goodson says he originally injured the shoulder several weeks ago and it was aggravated during a kickoff return by an opponent's direct blow with a helmet. Goodson seems to think the injury is not too severe, but this may have cemented Jonathan Stewart as the primary back going forward.



Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told reporters Monday that he expects running back Ryan Torain to be in practice this week. Torain actually was listed as a limited participant Friday, but the team was not comfortable returning him to the lineup just yet. Looks like this could be the week he returns, but fantasy owners beware of the dreaded timeshare.

• Another returning running back this week is likely to be the New Orleans Saints' Pierre Thomas, who has not played since injuring his ankle in Week 2. Thomas was far more active in last week's practice than in previous weeks, and the Saints were hinting even then at a Week 14 sighting. The likelihood of his return was confirmed Monday by coach Sean Payton. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Payton says he remains "cautiously optimistic" about Thomas' availability Sunday, adding, " ... I would say based on the way he practiced last week, that there is a lot of optimism he will be involved in this plan." Still, the Saints have shown that they will be cautious with a running back in his first game back (think: Reggie Bush on Thanksgiving Day) and Chris Ivory did enough last week to earn the majority share of carries. Thomas may be decent insurance for fantasy owners to have though in the event something happens to Ivory.

• There were a couple of tight ends added to the injury list Sunday. Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez rolled his left ankle Sunday, which he blamed on the slick surface at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gonzalez said he wore long cleats because of the surface and they "roll easily." The good news is that he expects to play in Week 14. Meanwhile, Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap strained his hamstring Sunday night and so far the outlook is not too encouraging for this week. Fantasy owners should plan on an alternative.

[+] EnlargeSteve Smith
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonThe Giants' Steve Smith is hoping to return from injury in time for the fantasy playoff push.
• The New York Giants are hoping to get their two injured wide receivers back in the near future. Hakeem Nicks may be available this week depending on whether he can practice in advance. Nicks, who has a healing leg wound following a fasciotomy procedure, is hopeful to return to practice Wednesday. Teammate Steve Smith is recovering from a partial tear of his pectoral muscle. He has missed four games and could miss another, depending how this week goes. Smith hopes to try practicing Wednesday with the goal of seeing some playing time Sunday but knows he would still be limited. In fact, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, Smith says he expects to be uncomfortable for the remainder of the season. The muscle is under strain when being stretched (when the arm is extended to make a catch) and when contracting (as it would with bringing the arm across the body or pushing off) and the goal is to ensure that Smith does not suffer a setback. To that end, he will likely wear a protective harness that limits his motion but will still need to guard against overdoing it.



• The San Diego Chargers continue to be challenged by various injuries. Fantasy owners are eager to hear whether receiver Vincent Jackson will be available, something that won't be known until later in the week. The plan is to test his calf strain with some running in the early part of the week. Meanwhile, Legedu Naanee suffered an apparent setback to his hamstring and is looking doubtful for this weekend. Tight end Antonio Gates continues to have pain but also continues to fight through it. Running back Ryan Mathews was active Sunday but did not get in the game. That's one way to stay healthy.

Seattle Seahawks receiver Mike Williams returned from a foot injury Sunday only to leave the game early with a sprained ankle. The Tacoma News-Tribune reports that it is a first degree sprain (the most minor) and the Seahawks are optimistic that he could be available Sunday. More to come later in the week.

• The Indianapolis Star reports that running back Mike Hart aggravated his ankle injury Sunday. With Joseph Addai appearing still a ways away from returning, expect Donald Brown to start again Thursday night.

• Thursday night should herald the return of one of the Tennessee Titans from injury. Wide receiver Kenny Britt, who has missed time with a serious hamstring strain, is no longer on the injury report. Britt practiced last week but the Titans opted to give him a few more days. The first game back is always a big test for a hamstring injury, but fantasy owners should keep an eye on Britt's performance. If he does well, it could be a good sign for his value throughout the remainder of the fantasy playoffs.



We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 14 on Thursday and Saturday!



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



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

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

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

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
AP Photo/Don HeupelNo matter the extent of the foot injury, it looks like Ben Roethlisberger will play this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger remains in a boot to protect his injured right foot. He has been limping around the Steelers' facilities since this past Sunday's game with what was originally called a sprained foot. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger's injury was actually a broken fifth metatarsal. The fifth metatarsal is the long bone in the outer forefoot that connects the fifth toe to the midfoot. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, however, that the Steelers are refuting accounts of a new fracture. Via a statement from team spokesman Dave Lockett, the Steelers maintain Roethlisberger aggravated scar tissue at the site of an old injury. Either way, Roethlisberger has pain in his right foot, but the absence of a new fracture could be significant in that it might affect the course of treatment.

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



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



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

Running Backs

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



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



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



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



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

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

Tight Ends

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

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

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



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

Other


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Week 11 kicks off with another Thursday night game, and the effect of injury is obvious in the Miami Dolphins' starting lineup. This past Sunday, the Dolphins lost quarterback Chad Pennington, who started ahead of a benched Chad Henne, in the first offensive series to another season-ending shoulder injury. Henne then stepped into the game only to leave with a knee injury that had him on crutches afterward. While the Dolphins have left the door open for Henne to return, it doesn't appear that will be anytime soon ... and it certainly won't be tonight. Tyler Thigpen will be the starting quarterback as the Dolphins host the Chicago Bears.

Meanwhile, there also is some question as to who will be protecting Thigpen's blind side. Offensive tackle Jake Long injured his shoulder in Week 10, reportedly dislocating it and suffering significant tissue damage, including a torn labrum (the ring of cartilage that adds stability to the shoulder joint), in the process. Not only is this a painful injury, but it means Long's shoulder will be significantly less stable, and that instability will make it difficult to block effectively. An unstable shoulder will feel like it slips out of place, especially when weight is forced through the arm. Long is expected to try wearing a shoulder harness for support, which offers some stability but also, out of necessity, limits motion, making it tough for Long to use his arm as he normally would. He is listed as questionable, so it will come down to game time to see whether Long can function well enough to play.

This week marks the first non-bye week since Week 3, so theoretically there are more players available for last-minute fantasy pickups. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, there also are far more injuries of significance, so the pickings might be a little slimmer.



Here's who you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 11 showdowns:

Austin Collie
Geoff Burke/US PresswireAustin Collie's return to the lineup would help Peyton Manning's numbers.
Joseph Addai, RB; Mike Hart, RB; Austin Collie, WR; Jacob Tamme, TE, Indianapolis Colts: The exciting news here is that Collie is back in the conversation. Regardless of his status for this Sunday, hearing he was back at the Colts' practice facility this week is good news indeed, especially after seeing him unconscious on the field in Week 9, then removed on a spine board and stretcher. At this time last week, Collie already had been ruled out. This week, Collie was able to put in some limited work Wednesday and he issued a statement expressing his thanks for all the well wishes following his injury. Collie, who practiced fully again Thursday, said, "Every day I feel like I am improving. And it was great to get back on the field in some capacity Wednesday." He also thanked the entire medical staff for its efforts. It still is one day at a time for Collie, but it appears possible he could return this Sunday.

Addai was said to be feeling better last week but was not in Wednesday practice. However, he did return to limited practice Thursday. Addai suffered a neck injury several weeks ago, which he described as leaving his arm feeling "dead," suggesting nerve involvement. Nerve tissue generally is slow to heal, as clearly has been the case for Addai. Hart, who injured his ankle in Week 9, has been essentially invisible since then and was still not at practice Wednesday. It appears Donald Brown could be in line for another start at running back this week.

Tamme, who was dealing with a back injury last week and reportedly was in major discomfort after Week 10, was not only a full participant in practice Wednesday, but he was not on the team's injury report. If he holds up well through the remainder of the week, he should be on the field Sunday when the Colts face the New England Patriots.

Reggie Bush, RB; Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints: Bush is expected to return at long last after missing all but the first two games of the season due to a broken fibula (the long skinny bone on the outer aspect of the lower leg). Fractures typically take about six weeks to heal, but regaining football shape, especially for an explosive, directional runner such as Bush, takes much longer, as he and his fantasy owners found out. The bye in Week 10 allowed Bush the extra time to build toward returning to practice in advance of this Sunday's game.



Thomas is not yet practicing with the team. The Saints continue to hold out hope he will recover enough from his ankle injury to contribute late in the season. Along those lines, coach Sean Payton issued the first positive words with regard to Thomas' recovery on Thursday, telling the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "I think we've turned a corner." Although Thomas is not doing team practice, he is working out on the field in pads, meaning he is putting his ankle through some of the necessary paces, just in the absence of traffic where it would be easier to aggravate it. While it doesn't appear that Thomas will bridge the gap to being ready for this week, it's starting to sound like he could be a late-season contributor for the Saints and for needy fantasy owners.



Ryan Mathews, RB; Malcom Floyd, WR; Legedu Naanee, WR; Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: We start with the good news in San Diego that Floyd's return is imminent. Floyd, who suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, has been back at practice and has been running full speed since last week. Assuming there are no setbacks, Floyd is expected to play Sunday.

And then there is the not so good news. Rookie running back Mathews suffered a setback to his right ankle in Week 10, and it appears he might be forced to take some time off. Not a bad idea, given that Mathews has struggled intermittently since the initial injury to get his ankle back to full strength. Meanwhile, Naanee had not improved enough from his hamstring injury to rejoin his teammates in practice, although he did do some individual drills, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gates, who recently assessed his chances of playing Monday night at 50-50, did not practice with the team Wednesday, not altogether surprising given his injury, a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He has made some progress, though, as he has begun light running, a big step considering how much load that places on his injured arch. Gates admits being frustrated by this injury, which has sidelined him for the first time in his professional career, but he might not have much choice other than to wait for more healing.

Matt Schaub
Brett Davis/US PresswireMatt Schaub has three 20-point fantasy games this season but also five games with fewer than 10 points.
Matt Schaub, QB; Andre Johnson, WR; Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans: Schaub spent some time in the hospital this week, which undoubtedly caused some alarm among fantasy owners. Not to panic yet; it might not be as dire as you think. Schaub was being treated in the hospital for a "bursa sac issue" in his knee, according to coach Gary Kubiak. An inflamed bursa sac is known as bursitis, but one usually lands in the hospital when there is an infection. The idea is to treat the individual with IV antibiotics in the hope that the infection will resolve and no surgery will be required. (You might recall when Peyton Manning underwent surgery to address a bursa sac infection a couple of years ago.) Presumably Schaub was dealing with an early infection. He now has been discharged from the hospital and participated in light practice Thursday. Depending on how he feels and how well his knee is responding, Schaub is expected to be on the field for the Texans this week.

Johnson is expected to continue his routine of resting his sore ankle early in the week and playing Sunday. Daniels, who sat out last week after aggravating his hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday.

Brett Favre, QB; Percy Harvin, WR; Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings: By now, everyone knows Favre's ailments are too numerous to all be included on the Vikings' weekly injury report. By now, everyone also expects Favre to play, regardless of what's ailing him. After the Week 10 contest, Favre told ESPN's Ed Werder that he had concerns about the health of his right (throwing) shoulder and acknowledged having increased pain that might have affected his performance. Within a couple of days and amid some confusion as to whether this was a serious issue, Favre's own level of concern seemed to subside. After all, his is not a pristine shoulder, despite surgery last year to address a partially torn biceps tendon. It's going to be painful and problematic from time to time. No doubt Favre has recently increased the strain on his shoulder, whether as a function of compensating for the elbow pain he's been experiencing, the limitations in his ankle or both, and the pain is a natural secondary effect. The temporary solution will continue to be limited work early in the week with the goal of playing Sundays.



Harvin continues to play through pain and discomfort, even when his practice reps are limited during the week. Harvin put in limited reps Wednesday and is again expected to play this week.

Sidney Rice
AP Photo/Andy KingSidney Rice has to be activated by next Wednesday or he'll miss the rest of the season.
When Rice did not play this past Sunday after his practice activity during the week suggested he might, questions about whether he would play at all this season began to emerge. Rice addressed those questions Wednesday, saying that the sole issue for him is confidence in his surgical hip. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Rice wrote on his blog that the reason he did not play last Sunday was because he was "feeling significant discomfort Friday and Saturday." Rice also referred to undergoing a "very serious" procedure in August, although no one has specified what exactly Rice had done, making his timeline thus far hard to assess.

This reluctance to return before feeling fully healthy is not surprising and is a common issue for athletes coming off major surgery. It's an interesting quandary for an athlete in Rice's situation, and he already has said he does not want to return in a limited capacity. Rice knows what type of statistics he put up last season. He doesn't want to come back and be a lesser player after surgery or risk reinjury. And there's no denying his future is at stake. If Rice comes back a step slow or a bit hesitant because of lack of confidence in his leg or, worse yet, suffers even a minor setback, he potentially hurts the team now and himself down the road.

Even with those considerations, it's hard to imagine Rice not playing at all unless he truly believes he is not fully healthy. But the deadline for him to be activated in order to be eligible to play this season is next Wednesday. Whether he will meet that target is unclear.

DeAngelo Williams, RB; Jonathan Stewart, RB; Jimmy Clausen QB, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers lost Williams to injured reserve this week because of a foot injury. According to coach John Fox, Williams would have needed another couple of weeks to get healthy and the team needed the roster spot. No doubt, since the Panthers have dealt with a multitude of injuries, especially at the running back and quarterback position.

Stewart, who suffered a concussion in Week 9 that kept him out of the Week 10 lineup, has not practiced this week and is unlikely to play. It appears Mike Goodson will make another start. At the quarterback position, Clausen, starting for the injured Matt Moore, suffered a concussion in Week 10 and has not practiced. In what some considered a bit of a surprise move, Fox indicated that Brian St. Pierre, who has just one week of practice with the Panthers, will be the starter this week as opposed to rookie Tony Pike.



Vince Young, QB; Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee Titans: Collins suffered a calf strain in Week 10 when he started in place of the less-than-100 percent-healthy Young. Collins is expected to miss several weeks, so the question becomes: Will Young be healthy enough to effectively lead the team this Sunday? Apparently, the answer is yes. Young, who has been trying to get past an ankle injury, was not on Wednesday's injury report, so expect him to be the starter in Week 11.



Tom Brady, QB, Fred Taylor, RB, New England Patriots: Brady had a foot sprain that caused him to miss practice one day last week. You knew it had to be bothering him because Brady rarely sits out. But it sure didn't look like it bothered him Sunday when he was tearing apart the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Assume that Brady will be at the helm when his team faces the Indianapolis Colts this week.

As for Taylor, he seems to be making gains in his recovery from toe injuries, as he increased his practice activity last week. Keep an eye on him, as he just might be available to help out in the next couple of weeks.

And elsewhere ...

• The Detroit Lions got wide receiver Calvin Johnson back in practice Thursday after a day of rest. Running back Jahvid Best skipped both Wednesday and Thursday practices, a reminder that his turf toe injuries are not completely behind him. Best likely will continue to play but has not shown his early-season form since the toe problems came about.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been in practice this week despite cracking a bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist. There seems to be little doubt that he will be running the offense Sunday.

Beanie Wells
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireBeanie Wells has just 34 fantasy points this season.
Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells returned to practice this week. Both Wells and coach Ken Whisenhunt said at the start of the week that they expected him to practice every day and play Sunday. But what can fantasy owners count on? Not much, based on the season so far. It isn't to say that Wells can't be productive; it's just that he hasn't been. His knee has been an issue since Week 1, and the resulting missed practice time has contributed to his limited productivity on game days. And there's no guarantee that the recurring swelling is behind him. Wells says he feels the best he has since surgery, which is great news, but will it last? Even if he's on the field, it's hard to have confidence in what Wells will bring until we actually see him deliver it.

Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain has not practiced since his hamstring tightened up Monday night, preventing him from taking the field despite being active. It certainly does not look good for Sunday. Clinton Portis continues to be limited in practice with the groin injury. All signs are pointing to another Keiland Williams start.

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a pectoral (chest) strain a week ago and missed this past Sunday's contest as a result. Reports have varied on the amount of time he's expected to miss, but he is not practicing yet and should not be in fantasy lineups this week.

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday due to a shoulder injury. He was back Thursday, however, a good sign for fantasy owners that he expects to play.



• On the concussion front, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward suffered one in Week 10, as did Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki. Ward was cleared to return to practice and participated fully Wednesday. Barring a setback, he should play this week. Moeaki did not practice Wednesday, and his status remains questionable.

Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini said early in the week that he was hopeful receiver Josh Cribbs could play Sunday despite dislocating four toes last week. Apparently Mangini has not had four toes dislocate simultaneously. And then tried to run. Fast. It sounded a bit optimistic at the time, and Cribbs has not been in practice this week. It's not looking great for his return as of now.

See you at Friday's injury chat (3-4 p.m. ET), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog.



Not getting enough football? Of course you aren't! To help remedy that situation, you get another night of NFL competition starting ... now. Tonight marks this season's first night of Thursday night football, as the Baltimore Ravens face the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.



Naturally, there is a fantasy football injury concern heading into the game. Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is listed as questionable coming off a knee bruise from Sunday's contest. It's worth noting that White ultimately finished the game Sunday, and his status for Thursday night never really appeared to be in doubt, even as he was held out of practice early in the week. White returned to a light limited practice Wednesday, and all indications are that he will play against the Ravens. Whether the knee will affect his performance at all is hard to gauge, given that he has not truly tested it since Sunday. Still, there's not enough evidence to suggest White will be significantly impaired unless he suffers an in-game setback. It's pretty hard to bench Matt Ryan's top target on the basis of a what-if scenario. Fantasy owners should check pregame inactives, but it would be very surprising if White did not take the field.



In the rest of the NFL world, four teams are enjoying a respite from competition in Week 10. The San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers get a week off during this final bye week of the NFL season.

With so many teams dealing with multiple player injuries, it made sense to lump the biggest collections of injuries together as team units in this blog entry. With that said, here's who else we're talking about in the world of injuries heading into Week 10:

Andre Johnson
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesAt this point, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Andre Johnson misses a midweek practice to nurse his ankle.
Houston Texans (Andre Johnson, WR; Owen Daniels, TE; Matt Schaub, QB): Neither Johnson nor Daniels practiced with the team Wednesday or Thursday. Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com reported that Johnson underwent another MRI on Monday as a follow-up measure for his right ankle. Johnson's high ankle sprain has continued to nag at him intermittently, and his explanation for that was perfectly reasonable. "I still have a little swelling in my joint, so that's what's causing the little pain I have at times," Johnson said. "The biggest thing now is just trying to just get that swelling out of there." This explains why the team is limiting his activity during the week. Less running and less pounding means a better chance of getting the swelling down. Less swelling translates to better joint mobility and less pain. Johnson said his ankle was "feeling pretty good" Wednesday. This cycle is likely to continue throughout the remainder of the season.

Although Johnson's nonpractice routine to protect his ankle is somewhat expected by now, Daniels has yet to get past a recent aggravation of a hamstring injury. Head coach Gary Kubiak says that Daniels is improving but will be a game-time decision, according to the Texans' official Twitter page. Daniels has had only one solid performance this season.

Schaub was limited Wednesday because of a rib injury but will play Sunday when the Texans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Minnesota Vikings (Brett Favre, QB; Percy Harvin, WR; Sidney Rice, WR): Favre did not practice Wednesday, and in what has become an ever-changing injury report for him, the notes following his name Wednesday said, "ankle, foot, calf." For those keeping score at home, "chin," which appeared last week after Favre's laceration requiring stitches in the Week 8 game, and "elbow," which made the list weeks ago, are now both absent. Which led me to wonder: What are the most body parts to appear for a player on a single injury report? Will Favre hold that record along with the consecutive-starts streak? But I digress ...

Favre was back in practice Thursday, and we all know he will start this week. Harvin might be a different story. Harvin, who limped into Week 9 with a left ankle sprain, has not practiced Wednesday or Thursday because of a migraine flare. He has developed a pattern where he typically shows up and plays well on Sunday even if he is unable to do much during the week. Although migraines are clearly far less predictable than a typical musculoskeletal injury, one has to believe that if he is functional Sunday, he will play. Still, fantasy owners should prepare for another possible game-time decision.

And everyone is wondering when we will see the return of Rice, who is back doing some work with the team following August hip surgery. Coach Brad Childress has not yet committed to a return date, stressing that he wants to be sure that Rice can handle the rigors of competition, both in terms of endurance and being able to absorb physical contact, before he participates in games. Rice has not yet been moved to the active roster, which has to happen for him to play. Although that is a possibility for Week 10, there has not been any definitive indication that it will take place. Even if it does, Childress already has indicated that Rice is likely to return to limited action initially.

Indianapolis Colts (Joseph Addai, RB; Mike Hart, RB; Jacob Tamme, TE; Austin Collie, WR): Addai is still not practicing with the team and is not expected to play in Week 10. Hart has shown no signs of returning yet, either. Expect Donald Brown to get the start at running back again for the Colts this week.

And what's this we're hearing about Tamme? The Colts already lost their starting tight end, Dallas Clark, for the season to a wrist injury. Tamme, who has been outstanding filling in, was not in practice Wednesday because of a back injury. Even more ominous was coach Jim Caldwell's acknowledgment of a "level of concern" about Tamme's status, as reported by Phillip Wilson of The Indianapolis Star. It appears that fantasy owners can breathe a little easier, as Tamme was back in practice Thursday. Friday will be telling to see whether Tamme can go on two consecutive days. Fantasy owners need to keep an eye on this one.



Collie already has been ruled out as he recovers from a concussion.

New England Patriots (Tom Brady, QB; Fred Taylor, RB): Could the face of the Patriots franchise be sidelined this week with an injury (and not the one to his throwing shoulder that appears on practice reports week in and week out)? No is the simple answer. Brady missed Wednesday's practice, an occurrence that raised eyebrows frankly because it is such a rare event. He is reportedly dealing with a foot sprain, but he was back in practice Thursday and by all accounts will be under center Sunday night.



Meanwhile, welcome back to practice (albeit limited), Fred Taylor! He has been hampered by toe injuries, but the Patriots had to believe he could contribute eventually, as they kept him on the active roster. Maybe that time is nearing. This will no doubt progress slowly and depend on how Taylor responds to any increased activity. But it's something fantasy players in very deep leagues should at least monitor.

And elsewhere ...

Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young did not practice Wednesday because of his ankle, a bit of a concern coming out of a bye week. He returned to limited practice Thursday and is expected to play this weekend. Nonetheless, if Young's mobility is at issue, it certainly impacts his style of play.



Carson Palmer
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesCarson Palmer got an extra day to rest his shoulder, and it looks as though he'll be fine for Sunday's game.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has not practiced this week because of soreness in his throwing shoulder. However, Palmer said he plans to return to throwing Friday and, more importantly, plans to play Sunday. According to the Bengals' official website, Palmer says he's "not worried at all," indicating that the short week warranted an extra day of rest. Meanwhile, teammate Chad Ochocinco was back in Thursday's practice after sitting out Wednesday to rest his ankle. He got his leg rolled Monday night and looked uncomfortable afterward, but apparently the injury was not serious. His relative lack of targets may be the more serious issue both for him and his fantasy owners.

• The Detroit Lions expect to have Shaun Hill at quarterback this week as long as there are no setbacks. Hill is recovering from a fracture in his nonthrowing forearm, and the main concern will be protecting that forearm from reinjury. Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith had a custom-designed shell created to protect his forearm; perhaps Hill will wear something similar. In the meantime, there is no official word as to the long-term plan for Matthew Stafford. But clearly no one expects him back any time soon. Running back Jahvid Best continues to be listed on the injury report because of his toe but is expected to play.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been back in practice this week after sitting Week 9 out with a concussion. ESPN's NFC West blogger Mike Sando reports that Hasselbeck is expected to play against the Arizona Cardinals this week. As is the case following all concussions, there must be no recurrence of symptoms between now and Sunday, but given Hasselbeck's strong early week, fantasy owners can feel positive.

• As for the Carolina Panthers, Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald reported Wednesday that Mike Goodson will start at running back this week. So much for DeAngelo Williams aiming for a Week 10 return. He has not yet returned to practice, and neither has teammate Jonathan Stewart, who suffered a concussion in Week 9. It's worth noting that offensive tackle Jeff Otah, who had not played this season following August knee surgery (his absence is certainly believed to be a contributing factor to the struggles of Carolina's running game) has now been placed on injured reserve. Translation: No help on that front anytime soon. Quarterback Matt Moore joins Otah on the injured reserve list, and Jimmy Clausen will start in his place for the Panthers.



• Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, again because of swelling in his surgically repaired knee, according to Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic. According to Somers, Wells will try to practice Friday. Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence. Wells has been a question mark most weeks and has been limited even when he has played, primarily because of issues with his knee. It's not looking much more promising for him in Week 10.

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a pectoral (chest) strain in practice Thursday and, according to the New York Daily News, could miss this week's game. Apparently Smith was injured when extending his arm to reach for a ball and was not able to complete practice as a result.

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis is back in practice this week following the bye. Davis was forced to leave the game early in Week 8 after aggravating an ankle injury, but it doesn't appear to be an issue at the moment.

See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog.



As many had predicted, Brett Favre started for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. He didn't finish, but it wasn't his ankle that took him out of the game. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans announced last week that wide receiver Kenny Britt would not miss any more playing time for disciplinary reasons. Unfortunately, he likely will miss significant playing time as a result of injury. And the Indianapolis Colts, well, they still found a way to win despite the overwhelming number of injuries to their skill position players that continued Monday night.

With six teams on bye again Sunday, fantasy owners need to get a jump on their waiver-wire competition. Here are some names to keep an eye on after Week 8.

Kenny Britt
AP Photo/Gregory BullAfter going off for 225 yards and three scores in Week 7, Kenny Britt had no catches in Week 8 before leaving with a hamstring injury.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans: Britt did not start the Week 7 contest after his alleged involvement in a bar fight but was electrifying for two-and-a-half quarters nonetheless. Fantasy owners were happy to hear that Britt would not miss any more playing time for disciplinary reasons and looked forward to an even more productive Week 8. But it didn't happen. Britt was forced out of the game in the first quarter by a right hamstring injury that looked to be serious when it happened. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported that Britt was seen "grabbing his hamstring" during practice throughout the week. Perhaps it was a sign of something bigger lurking under the surface, but it was not enough to keep Britt from practicing full speed all week leading up to Sunday's game.

Although Titans coach Jeff Fisher has indicated that Britt is expected to miss some time with the injury, he does anticipate his return. According to The Tennessean, Fisher said, If it was a season-ending injury, I would tell you right now it is season-ending. No, it is not." Fisher went on to say that there would be more information after the Titans' Week 9 bye and that until then, the plan would be to treat Britt's injury "very aggressively."

Fantasy owners know from experience that serious hamstring injuries require time, above all else, to heal and should seek a replacement now.

Zach Miller, TE, Oakland Raiders: Miller has been such a fantasy star at the tight end position that his numbers from Sunday -- or lack thereof -- came as a bit of a shock. Miller was limited last week by a foot injury that obviously compromised him during the game. The day after the game, Miller was seen on crutches, clearly a measure to take pressure off his painful arch.

Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that coach Tom Cable expects Miller to play against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. So what are fantasy owners to expect? It's hard to imagine that a painful arch will be significantly improved within a week, although the early unloading (not putting weight on the arch in order to alleviate stress on the area) may help. It would not be surprising to see Miller held out of practice early in the week. Late-week practices would go a long way toward inspiring confidence that the pain will not severely restrict Miller again in Week 9. Stay tuned.

Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins: Despite his early success while filling in for the injured Clinton Portis, one of the concerns about Torain has been whether he could stay on the field. Not that his talent was ever in question, just his durability, given his history of serious injury. Fantasy owners can now be legitimately nervous, as Torain was forced to exit Sunday's game early with a left hamstring strain.

According to The Washington Post, Torain felt the hamstring pull on the final running play of the second quarter. After the game when Torain was asked whether the injury was serious, he responded with "hard to say." The Post reported that an MRI revealed no structural damage, and head coach Mike Shanahan is hopeful that Torain will be ready for the team's next game after the bye week. In the event he is not able to go, it likely would be Keiland Williams, who stepped in when Torain went out Sunday, to get the Monday night start.



Portis, who suffered a Grade III groin tear in Week 4, "took a couple plays in practice" Tuesday, according to Rich Campbell of the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star. Although his new activity is encouraging, there is still a lot of work to be done before Portis is ready to return. Increased speed and agility work as well as tolerance of full practice will all have to come before he returns to play. The Post notes that Shanahan does not expect Portis in the lineup the week after the bye, although a definitive timetable has not been laid out.

Other injury notes heading into Week 9:


• In addition to losing Britt in Week 8, the Titans saw quarterback Vince Young leave the field early with an aggravation of his previous ankle injury. The Tennessean reports that Young is likely to rest most of this week while the team is on bye but could return to practice next week. It's much too soon to write Young out of the mix for Week 10, but fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on whether he's back in practice to start the week.



• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin caught his left foot in the turf and had to be assisted off the field in the first quarter. He ended up returning to the game shortly afterward but was clearly limping in pain following the game. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Harvin said of his ability to last the entire game, "It probably was adrenaline that got me through." Now that the adrenaline has worn off, it will be a matter of seeing just what Harvin can do on that ankle as the week goes on to determine whether he can play.



Favre
Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireEven though Brett Favre did not finish Sunday's game after a chin laceration, it appears he will keep his consecutive-games streak alive this week.
• Favre was able to move well enough to start Sunday but ended up leaving the game after suffering a chin laceration that required eight stitches to close. Initially it looked as though the injury could have been much worse, but there were reportedly no broken bones. As for his ability to go in Week 9, Favre offered this: I'm ready to play next week," Favre said. "Nobody knows my body like me. I think I'll be all right, ready to play next week." He was right last time. Whom Favre will throw to with Randy Moss gone and Harvin ailing might be the bigger question this week.

• The Colts saw yet another running back leave a game due to injury. Mike Hart, who got the start Monday night in place of the injured Joseph Addai, left the game with an ankle injury. Hart was expected to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Donald Brown saw his first game action in a month, but his playing time was limited. It will probably come close to game time again before we know who will run the ball for the Colts in Week 9.

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson showed his toughness Monday night as he continued to play despite aggravating his right ankle late in the game. As we've been saying all along, this ankle injury is a perpetual source of pain for Johnson based on the demands of his position and the physical way he plays the game. In the absence of taking multiple weeks off to let it fully heal -- which Johnson is not going to do -- the ankle has the potential to flare up during a game. As long as he can play and fight through it, he will. So expect Johnson to continue to tough it out unless or until it becomes physically impossible for him to run.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was harassed all day Sunday, and it finally caught up to him. He suffered a concussion in Week 8, but although coach Pete Carroll sounds very optimistic about his return, Hasselbeck will have to meet all postconcussion medical criteria to be cleared to play. It doesn't help matters that tackle Russell Okung suffered another high ankle sprain, this time to his left side. The Seahawks have indicated that this injury appears less serious than the right ankle injury that sidelined Okung earlier in the season, and they hope to have him back in practice this week. We shall see.

• In other Raiders news, Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that coach Tom Cable expects wide receiver Louis Murphy to miss another game to continue healing from his chest contusion. Although Murphy told the San Jose Mercury News he felt fine Sunday, he understood why the team held him out of contact. Said Murphy, "... with me coughing up blood and having internal bleeding, they didn't want to take any chances with that." Understood. Meanwhile, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski says his injured throwing shoulder (AC sprain) is now feeling better. Cable has maintained all along that Gradkowski is the starter when healthy.

Donald Driver
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireAfter 133 consecutive games with at least one catch, Donald Driver has now been held without a reception in two straight games.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver aggravated the quadriceps injury that has been nagging him the past few weeks. Driver limped off the field Sunday, and after two consecutive weeks with no receptions, it is no surprise to hear that he will not play in Week 9, according to Bill Michaels of WTMJ radio in Milwaukee.



• The San Francisco 49ers managed to eke out a victory in London but lost tight end Vernon Davis in the process, as he aggravated the ankle injury that had deemed him questionable entering the week. No official word on how serious this setback is, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Davis doesn't seem to think it's serious. The team is on bye in Week 9, so he could get some extra rest, but the Chronicle reports Davis plans to "run some routes" this week. Let's see what he actually does first, but the early news sounds encouraging for Davis' availability in Week 10.

Michael Vick is expected to start at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Vick has returned to practice and, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, said he experienced "no soreness at all" with throwing. That's good news, but it's a far cry from taking contact. Vick's rib cartilage injury has the potential to cause him discomfort at the very least and severe pain at the worst, depending on the amount and type of contact he absorbs in any given game. So although the plan is for Vick to start, fantasy owners should keep insurance handy in the event there is a setback. Meanwhile, teammate DeSean Jackson has returned to limited practice after his concussion. His response to activity will be taken into account daily, and his status could come down to the wire.

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush was not able to return to the amount of activity he predicted last week, placing his status for this week in that much more jeopardy. Bush still has many hurdles to cross before returning to game play. Teammate Pierre Thomas appears to be even further from returning, as he was placed back on crutches last week and is doing no football activity. Thomas' situation appears murkier than it did a few weeks ago. It is worth keeping a close eye on their activity as the week progresses.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses with much more to come on Thursday.



Since most of Tuesday's blog was dedicated to two star players with significant injuries, quarterbacks Brett Favre and Tony Romo, today's blog will be a series of quick hits to get you caught up on your other fantasy players from around the league. Six teams are on bye this week -- Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants -- so get those replacements early as the pickings may be slim by the weekend.

Brett Favre
AP Photo/Andy KingBrett Favre was wearing a walking boot on Wednesday but it was gone by Thursday.
Before jumping into the variety of injuries across the league, here's the latest on Favre: He did not practice Wednesday and may not practice the rest of the week. Favre is resting his ankle and getting regular treatment in the hope that he will play Sunday against the New England Patriots. Head coach Brad Childress told reporters that Favre would not have to practice but would have to prove that he is mobile enough to play effectively. In the meantime, Favre has now been spotted without a walking boot, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Star-Tribune reports that Favre, who may wear a shoe larger than his usual size to play, was not expected to practice Thursday but his Sunday status has yet to be determined. Favre, who certainly has not ruled himself out because of the injury, perhaps summed it up best saying, "I wouldn't put anything past me to be honest with you." Nor would his offensive coordinator apparently. Darrell Bevell, who was with Favre in Green Bay when he played through a broken thumb, told the Star-Tribune, "It would surprise me if he wasn't able to be out there." Friday should yield more clues but it's looking more and more like Favre will attempt to play.

Favre isn't the only injured quarterback in the spotlight this week. Many teams have seen rotations under center this season, more often as a result of injury than performance.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will rejoin his team on the field after missing six weeks with a separated throwing shoulder. Stafford has been working his way back gradually and the entire team is coming off a bye. While Stafford's shoulder has been rehabilitating, the rest of his body has enjoyed over a month free from contact, so he should be particularly fresh.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is expected to return this week after sitting out Week 7 with a concussion. The Dallas Morning News reports that Garrard passed post-concussion tests Tuesday, then worked out at the team facility. The Dallas Cowboys will be hosting the Jaguars this week.

• The Tennessee Titans' Vince Young, who sprained his left knee and ankle in the Week 6 Monday night game, was back in full practice Wednesday and Thursday. According to the Tennessean, Young says he is getting better each day. Coach Jeff Fisher says, "If he is able to move around in the pocket and be effective under center, then he'll have a chance to play." Backup Kerry Collins, who started in Week 7 despite a torn flexor tendon in his right (throwing) middle finger, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He should be available this week, but it appears that Young is indeed on track to face the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable continues to state that Bruce Gradkowski will resume the starting role as his team's quarterback once he's healthy. It's not looking as though that will happen this week, however. Gradkowski, who suffered a right shoulder injury that caused him to miss the past two games, was still not in practice Wednesday. Jason Campbell, who took all the first-team reps in his absence, appears in line for another start.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Max Hall says he's feeling better after taking a blow to the head in Week 7 that forced him to exit the game. Hall passed his concussion tests Tuesday and was a full participant in Wednesday practice. He has been named the starter for this week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.



• And across the pond, where the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos have traveled for their Week 8 contest at London's Wembley Stadium, it will be a different Smith taking the snaps for the 49ers. Troy Smith, who came to San Francisco from the Baltimore Ravens, has been chosen to start this week. Alex Smith suffered an AC (acromioclavicular) sprain to his left (nonthrowing) shoulder in Week 7 and is expected to miss two to three weeks. Backup quarterback David Carr, who stepped in to finish the game after Smith was hurt last Sunday, wasn't injured. He just wasn't good. The 49ers are hoping for some kind of spark from Troy Smith, who, incidentally, had never taken a snap with the first team until this week.

Beyond the injuries to those who throw the ball in the NFL, there are numerous ailments among those who run and catch the ball as well. Midseason is that difficult time of year when no one is expected to be fully healthy, simply by virtue of playing the sport of football, but the question is who is healthy enough. Just what is healthy enough? Fantasy owners have seen players who are healthy enough to take the field but have little impact (Antonio Gates in Week 7) and those not fully healthy yet but amazingly productive (Steven Jackson in Week 4). Here are the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends we're talking about this week:

• The San Diego Chargers continue to nurse a multitude of players back from injury. Wide receiver Malcom Floyd is expected out in Week 8 and is not an automatic for Week 9, either. Teammate Legedu Naanee appears to be improving from his hamstring injury and did take part in some practice Wednesday. His late-week activity will be telling.



New Orleans Saints running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are not likely to be available for your fantasy rosters this week. Bush, who indicated earlier this week that he was medically cleared to return to practice, has not done so. While he has increased his activity to include outdoor running, he is not yet doing the activities that would suggest he is ready to resume his role. Bush needs to clear some more hurdles before he is thrown to the wolves, also known as the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Meanwhile it's no secret that Thomas has been somewhat "stuck" in his progression and reports Thursday are not especially encouraging. Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported via Twitter that coach Sean Payton announced that Thomas consulted with a foot and ankle specialist, who advised reducing his workload. That's enough for fantasy owners to know not to expect Thomas to return this week. It does raise more concern going forward. We will be following this closely to see if more details emerge.

• On Tuesday, we noted that St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson underwent surgery on his finger. Jackson did not practice Wednesday, which is not surprising given his surgery was just two days prior. So far there is no indication that he will be limited for this Sunday's contest against the Carolina Panthers.



• That might not be the case for his counterpart on the opposing team, however. DeAngelo Williams left Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers with a foot injury that was not considered serious. He sure looked uncomfortable when he left the field and he was not in practice Wednesday or Thursday. Williams owners need to be prepared with a replacement if Williams does not show he can run on that foot by Friday.

Knowshon Moreno
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireFormer Bulldog Knowshon Moreno would have to be considered the best running back of the Mark Richt era.
• Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno gave folks a scare when he grabbed his right hamstring near the end of practice Wednesday and was then seen talking it over with the medical staff, according to the Denver Post. On Thursday, coach Josh McDaniels told the Post he believes that Moreno will be ready to go "for at least some duty in Sunday's game." Not exactly completely reassuring. This is the same hamstring that Moreno injured this season, causing him to miss three games. Moreno appeared strong in his performance the past two games, but there's always concern for reinjury with the hamstring. Let's see what Moreno does Friday. Teammate Eddie Royal seems to be in worse shape with his groin injury, although the Broncos have him on the trip to London. According to the Post, they want to see his progress before Sunday. Given his limitations last week, it's hard to imagine Royal being in top form by game time.

• Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy looked to be in great pain after a big collision in Sunday's game and the immediate thought was that he aggravated a previously bruised collarbone. Murphy apparently has a chest contusion and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Tom Cable says the deep bruise is "in the lung area," and Murphy is doubtful for Sunday. Depending on the severity of Murphy's injury, he could miss extended time. That means more targets for Zach Miller.

• Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston was kept out of last week's game partly due to wet field conditions, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt. Breaston was involved on a limited basis in Wednesday practice and appears to have a good shot at playing this week.

• San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has not practiced for two days over in London because of an ankle injury. Although details about the injury itself have been limited, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that Davis is not limping and his status should be apparent by the end of Friday's practice.



• And then there's the banged-up Indianapolis Colts. First off, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez insisted earlier this week that his ankle was fine and that he expected to play Monday night. It's a good thing, too, since fantasy rock star Austin Collie is expected to be sidelined for several weeks following thumb surgery. Blair White is in the receiver mix as well. Gonzalez missed the majority of last season and most of this season with injury, so fantasy owners have little confidence. But the Colts, while fairly secretive when it comes to injury information, seem skilled at decision-making when it comes to returning players to activity. Their solid depth helps, but typically when their players return, they return strong. Pierre Garcon is proof of that already this season. And Gonzalez has been a full participant in practice both days this week.

Joseph Addai
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesJoseph Addai's shoulder could keep him out this week, and with the Monday night game, fantasy owners may need to look elsewhere.
• Meanwhile, in the running game things appear even less certain for the Colts. Joseph Addai, who injured his left shoulder in Week 6 and described his arm as "dead," has been slow to recover. Since the Colts play Monday night, they did not issue a Wednesday injury report, but Addai did not practice Thursday. Coach Jim Caldwell told reporters that Addai's status is day-to-day and that he has an "unusual" pain tolerance. Meanwhile, Donald Brown has been nursing a hamstring injury for weeks and it's unclear whether he'll be ready to take the field by Monday night. In fact, according to Tom James of the Terre Haute Star-Tribune, Brown did not practice Thursday, raising questions as to how healthy he truly is. According to the Indianapolis Star, Caldwell showered praise recently on Mike Hart (who had a hip issue of his own a couple of weeks ago), suggesting he would have to "be the guy to step it up a little bit" if Addai is unable to go. Friday's practice is even more important for the Colts this week with the game coming on Monday night.

See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 8 in the Saturday morning blog!



So I'm heading into Sunday night thinking, "Hmmm, relatively speaking, it was a light week when it comes to big injury news ..." It was all downhill from there. Two huge quarterback injuries have dominated the football headlines in the past 24 hours and will no doubt keep our attention for the near future. Meanwhile, a top fantasy running back quietly underwent surgery this week, and another may be on the verge of returning to your fantasy roster.



Here are the big stories we're talking about after Week 7.

Romo
Tim Heitman/US PresswireTony Romo could return by the end of the regular season from his broken collarbone, but that may be too late for most fantasy owners.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys:

This is what we said last week in this space: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffered a bruised left (nonthrowing) thumb. He is not expected to miss any practice time.

This is what we're reporting this week: Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo fractured his left (nonthrowing arm) clavicle (collarbone). He's expected to miss at least six to eight weeks.

Yep, the news is indeed worse this week for Cowboys fans and fantasy owners. Romo should be off your fantasy team at this point because there's no assurance that he'll make it back in time to be useful, so you're better off using the roster spot on someone else. How does this news affect your Cowboys wide receivers? My colleague Matthew Berry says that Miles Austin goes from a No. 1 to a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver but remains an every-week start. Roy E. Williams continues to be a flex play, and rookie Dez Bryant remains a matchups play. (Berry loves the rookie's skill and upside, but Bryant is still not on the field in two-receiver sets and, as I note, is a regular on the injury report.)

And what about Romo's injury? ESPN's Ed Werder reports that the Cowboys have determined Romo will not require surgery. Even though he is not going under the knife, it takes approximately six weeks for the fracture itself to heal, assuming that proper, uneventful healing occurs. Clearance to return to collision or contact sports typically takes two to three months, give or take, depending on the progress of the patient. According to Werder, the Cowboys are projecting a six-to-eight-week absence for Romo and are leaning toward the latter.

The good news for Romo is that the injury is to his nonthrowing arm, as an injury to his throwing arm would have lengthened the rehabilitation process and increased the concern. Nonetheless, there has to be confidence on the part of the medical staff that he is at low risk for reinjury before he returns. Given the sport that he plays, Romo is more than likely to experience more hits similar to the one that resulted in Monday night's injury. That concern might extend the timetable for returning, as in not returning at all, especially if the season appears beyond repair.

Brett Favre
AP Photo/Matt LudtkeBrett Favre's record consecutive-games streak is definitely in jeopardy, but he's played through all sorts of injuries during his career.

Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings: Favre came into the season with an ailing left ankle. It has endured three surgeries, the most recent being this year in advance of Favre's decision to return to football. The ankle certainly isn't feeling any better after Sunday night's game. Now diagnosed with a couple of fractures in the calcaneus (heel), including an avulsion fracture (where a tendon or ligament pulls away from the bone, taking a small fleck of bone with it), Favre has seen his limp worsen, and his status is very much up in the air.

Favre went down hard on a leg tackle from Green Bay Packers linebacker Brad Jones with his foot pointing sharply downward, the weight of the defender coming down on top of him, jamming the joint. That may well have been the most range of motion Favre's ankle has seen in months, and it came at a price. Although there's no way of knowing for sure that the damage seen on Favre's latest MRI occurred at that moment (remember, this is a chronically injured ankle), it clearly was a turning point in the game. Favre came up limping and struggled with his passes as well as his mobility throughout the remainder of the game. But he never left.

The fact that Favre was not forced out of the game is a positive consideration when evaluating the potential for his return in Week 8. After all, he has not been medically ruled out of competition and is currently resting his ankle in a walking boot in the hope that it will alleviate some discomfort. Not all fractures are created equal, either. There may be cracks or loading fractures in Favre's ankle that are due, in part, to the already weakened condition of the bone in the area. Often an avulsion injury, which is generally caused by the same mechanism as an ankle sprain, may simply heal on its own. This is not the same type of injuries as, for example, Romo's clavicle fracture, where he is exposed to significant risk by playing. This is not meant to minimize Favre's discomfort but rather to point out that it may be a matter of pain, more than anything else, that determines Favre's status. And Favre has played with pain.



In outlining the criteria for Favre's availability, Vikings coach Brad Childress said in his Monday news conference, "Once he's functional, he can play." Childress also pointed out, however, that Favre needed to prove he could perform. "He needs to be able to do all the things a guy in his position does," Childress said. "You can't put a guy that's a sitting duck out there." The point Childress appeared to be making was that Favre not only needs to make plays but also needs to be able to protect himself from further injury by escaping the pass rush.

Can Favre play? It will be challenging. His mobility will be hampered, and his pain and stiffness might affect his performance. If he can't step into his passes and throws off his back foot, the ball will have a tendency to sail, something we saw after his injury Sunday night. But he can make some adjustments. Favre can operate primarily from the shotgun, avoiding the need to drop back and putting some distance between him and the defense. The Vikings can opt to go run-heavy, and Favre can certainly hand the ball off repeatedly to Adrian Peterson. Medically, Favre can get a pain-relieving injection before the game and have the ankle heavily wrapped. It will be a balance between providing stability and pain relief for his injured ankle while permitting him the necessary mobility and feel to perform at the position.

So will Favre play? Ah, that is the question that will no doubt go unanswered until late in the week, perhaps even Sunday morning. It's hard to imagine the guy who has started 291 consecutive regular-season games -- through a broken thumb, sprained knee ligaments, a torn biceps and numerous other ailments -- sitting idly on the sideline. He seems to will himself to perform in ways that are unique to him, even when he's not at his physical best. Favre may not finish Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if he's out there at the start.

Other notes heading into Week 8:


St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson underwent surgery to pin his ring finger on his left hand. (A pin holds the joint in place while it heals.) This guy is so tough, we had no idea he broke a bone en route to more than 100 yards rushing last Sunday. For his part, Jackson said via Twitter on Monday that he "shouldn't miss a beat." Naturally, we'll need to see what he does in practice, but there isn't huge concern at this point.

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush is returning to practice Wednesday with the hopes of getting back to competition shortly. Bush, who suffered a broken right fibula in Week 2, has not stressed the leg with directional movement or live practice. How he responds to these new activities will determine whether he's available for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers or whether he will need a little more time.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses with much more to come on Thursday.



It is at this midweek point that we fantasy owners typically agonize over whether the injured players on our rosters will be available this week. With only one day of formal injury reports under our belt (at least that's the case for most teams at the time this blog is written), there is a big question as to whether many of the players appearing on these reports will be well enough to play in their games. Occasionally we find out early in the week that a player's injury is significant enough to sideline him. Disappointing as that news is, at least we can start searching for ways to make roster adjustments. Unfortunately, that early news is rare. However, this week, for better or for worse, we already know of several players who are projected to be out Sunday so we might as well get to those names straight away.



Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is still dealing with the effects of the concussion he sustained Sunday following a collision with Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson. Jackson did not practice Wednesday and head coach Andy Reid has already indicated that he does not expect the wide receiver to play this week. It also appears quarterback Michael Vick will be out another week, despite putting in limited practice Wednesday. Vick, still healing from his rib cartilage injury, has already spoken about targeting Week 9 (the Eagles have a bye in Week 8), so expect Kevin Kolb to get another start.



The San Diego Chargers have already indicated that two of their players will be out this weekend. According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, kicker Nate Kaeding will be out for Week 7 because of a groin injury. Meanwhile, wide receiver Malcom Floyd injured his hamstring in the Week 6 contest, which was severe enough that the Chargers are already preparing for his absence. The question will be whether he can return in time for the following week and whether Legedu Naanee can step back into the lineup this week. Naanee missed last week with a hamstring strain of his own and didn't practice Wednesday, but did do some side running and hopes to return to practice Thursday.

This is an off week for the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, so that extra time off is most welcome. However, even with the bye week, there's already a lot of bad news with the Colts.

Dallas Clark
AP Photo/John RaouxFantasy owners were already going to have to do without Dallas Clark this week, but the absence may be much longer.
First off, there's tight end Dallas Clark, as he's facing an "indefinite" absence as a result of a wrist/hand injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that in the wake of the injury, Clark would be seeking multiple opinions as to the optimum course of treatment. On Thursday, Colts general manager Bill Polian confirmed Clark's indefinite absence. According to the Indianapolis Star, Clark is seeing a specialist in Cleveland on Thursday for what is a "relatively rare" injury and the team is awaiting word on the course of treatment before providing any more details, including a timetable. Said Polian, "This is not the kind of injury that is very common where our doctors can say, 'Hey, look, this is a four-week injury or this is a six-week injury.' So we'll know more later tonight."

Clark was apparently injured late in Sunday night's game when he put his left hand down to break his fall. He was then seen sporting a cast on his forearm and hand while at a fundraiser earlier in the week, hinting at the seriousness of the injury. Fantasy owners obviously need to make lineup adjustments in preparation for the possibility that Clark's absence is extensive.



And if you thought it couldn't get any worse for the Colts, Polian also revealed Thursday that wide receiver Austin Collie has an undisclosed injury that is being further evaluated. Adam Schefter reports that Collie has already undergone hand surgery and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks. No word as to the specifics of the injury and subsequent surgery, but suffice it to say fantasy owners will need a fill-in if he is out a few weeks.

Fantasy owners who own both Clark and Collie in their leagues (including this writer) may need to be restrained from acting out in frustration, but fortunately they were already going to be out this week anyway. More details as they emerge.



Meanwhile, there are also questions at the running back position. Joseph Addai, who suffered an injury to his neck and shoulder area in Week 5 but played in Week 6, was forced out of last Sunday's game after injuring his left shoulder. The Indianapolis Star reports that Addai says he is dealing with a "nerve" injury that could take up to five weeks to heal. Without knowing more about his diagnosis, it's hard to tell how accurate Addai's own prognosis about his condition is. NFL.com reports he is currently seeking a second opinion. The good news is that the Colts are on a bye this week and Donald Brown is getting healthier. Fantasy owners will want to be sure they target Brown in the event Addai misses some extended time.

As for the rest of the Week 7 injury concerns, read on ...

Quarterbacks

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Favre's elbow is reportedly feeling better than it did a week ago and he should be fine to take the reins for Sunday. Although he was listed as a limited participant in practice, he did do some throwing Wednesday. This is likely to be a condition that will have its ups and downs as the season continues, but with careful management, Favre could manage to play through it.

David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars: Garrard rested at home Wednesday and Thursday rather than participate in activity at the team's facility as he recovers from a concussion sustained Monday night. As is often the case with these injuries, Garrard is resting from cognitively demanding activities, such as meetings and film review, while also laying off physical activity. The evidence would suggest that Garrard will not be ready to play in Week 7.



The question then becomes who will be under center for the Jaguars? Trent Edwards injured his thumb Monday night and was not at Wednesday practice either. At issue will be how much pain and swelling interfere with Edwards' ability to grip and control the ball. The Jaguars may rely on Todd Bouman to face the Kansas City Chiefs.

Vince Young, Tennessee Titans: Young, who sprained his left knee and ankle Monday night, did not practice Wednesday and was seen "limping on the sideline," according to the Tennessean. Backup Kerry Collins did not practice Wednesday either as he rested a sore right middle finger, but it appears he was set to return to practice Thursday. Young relies on his mobility so if he cannot maneuver well by Friday, expect Collins to get the start.

Running Backs

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: He split reps Wednesday with Michael Bush. The Oakland Tribune specifically noted that the plays did not seem to be testing the "burst" of McFadden, something he suggested he would do earlier in the week to evaluate the progress of his injured hamstring. Whether McFadden can practice on successive days and work up to full speed by the end of the week will give a better clue as to his status for Sunday. There's a possibility that the team could head into the game against the Denver Broncos with a load-share situation.

Wide Receivers

Steve Smith
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireThe return of Steve Smith would be most welcome for his fantasy owners and the Panthers' struggling offense.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers: When possible, we like to bring good news to fantasy owners in this column and the sight of Smith putting in back-to-back full practices this week is indeed good news. Last week at this time, it seemed as though Smith might be headed for a more prolonged absence, but the prognosis has since improved.

The Gaston Gazette reported Wednesday that Smith said he felt "healthy," adding "I'm out of the boot and I don't have much pain so I'm able to move around. So I feel good." Smith reportedly has been recovering from a high-ankle sprain and it has only been three weeks since the injury. While his practice activity is certainly encouraging and indicates his likely availability against the San Francisco 49ers, it will be more encouraging long-term if he gets through that game without a setback.

Quick Hits


• Chargers tight end Antonio Gates did not practice Wednesday, as expected, to rest his sore toe. Coach Norv Turner has indicated that this injury does not appear serious and the team hopes to have him back in practice Thursday. At this point, it does not appear that his Sunday status is in doubt, although fantasy owners will want to see what Gates is able to do as the week progresses.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver strained his quadriceps late last week but still managed to play in Sunday's game. Nonetheless, the quad did seem to hamper him and he was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. Friday's practice should give a better clue as to his availability but it is possible, even if he plays, that he will not be at full health.

• Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects both Steve Breaston (knee surgery) and Early Doucet (sports hernia surgery) to be back in the mix this week for the Arizona Cardinals. Both players participated in limited practice Wednesday.

• Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Mike Sims-Walker was limited in Wednesday's practice because of a shoulder ailment. There is no word of a major injury, but it is worth keeping an eye on his activity the remainder of the week.

• Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday, but expect him to be in the action again this week. Every week that goes by is another week of the rib fracture healing itself, so there appears to be no cause for concern here.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis continues to slog it out through his thigh injury. He was kept to a limited practice Wednesday but based on his prior performance, expect him to suit up this week.

New Orleans Saints running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were not in practice Wednesday. According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Bush is targeting next week for a return to practice, hoping to return to play in Week 8 or 9. Thomas was hoping to resume running this week, suggesting that he is more than a few days away from returning. As of Thursday, expect Chris Ivory and Ladell Betts to be in at running back.



Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap did not practice Wednesday because of a sore neck. Heap, who was on the receiving end of a big -- and much discussed -- hit from the New England Patriots' Brandon Merriweather, remained in Sunday's game after the hit but apparently the soreness lingered. The good news is that Heap returned to practice Thursday and appears to be on track to play in Week 7.

• At this point, Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini is suggesting that Colt McCoy could get his second start of the season, barring dramatic improvement in the ankle health of Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace. Given their injuries, McCoy is likely to be running the offense this week.

• Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski only watched practice while Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller split reps, according to the Oakland Tribune. When asked by Denver reporters during a conference call who would start for the Raiders this weekend coach Tom Cable responded, "We have no idea at this point."

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, Friday 3-4 p.m.), when we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 7 in the Saturday morning blog!



A number of fantasy stars went down in Week 5, and the news on at least one of them is not too encouraging.

Jermichael Finley
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesJermichael Finley could return by the end of the season, but it likely won't matter for fantasy owners if that happens.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday and it looks as if he could miss the remainder of the season. While it's possible he could return, his fantasy season is essentially done, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners (including, ahem, yours truly) who invested heavily in his talent. Finley did not disappoint but his knee failed to cooperate. The prognostic timetable in advance of Finley's surgery was that he would miss 3-6 weeks. After surgery, however, that timetable became a projected 8-10 weeks. According to Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Finley had a lateral meniscus tear and repairing it (as opposed to removing the torn meniscus) became an option, hence the expanded timetable.



Following meniscus repair, rehabilitation is much more conservative in an effort to protect the repaired tissue and ensure better healing. Even 10 weeks is optimistic in the case of a repair. The repair option is chosen, when possible, to try to preserve the long-term health of the knee as complete removal of a meniscus is associated with degenerative (arthritic) changes in the knee. Considering long-term health is the goal, there is no reason to rush a player back during the recovery process and potentially jeopardize the outcome. The Packers may ultimately decide to place Finley on injured reserve, something that is being evaluated in the context of the entire team's needs. Fantasy football owners can make the move to replace Finley on their rosters right away.

Four more teams are on bye in Week 6: the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers looks like he's in position to start on Sunday despite suffering a concussion late in last week's game.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers did not practice Wednesday, which was not surprising given that he suffered a concussion just last Sunday. At that time coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Rodgers was going through the protocol the team has in place following such injuries, adding, "I probably won't know his situation until [Thursday] morning, as far as his availability for the game, let alone practice."



Apparently, Thursday brought some encouraging news as Rodgers returned to practice. It's worth monitoring how Rodgers responds to the increased activity before penciling him into the start position. If he tolerates the activity well and returns for more Friday, then a Week 6 start is looking good.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: Cutler has been given the go ahead to return to full practice and was on the field Wednesday doing just that. He is expected to start for the Bears in Week 6.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: Vick has indicated that he is feeling better this week following his Week 4 rib cartilage injury. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vick says that he has "his throwing motion back." While Vick has certainly increased his activity in the last few days, he has not yet returned to practice. Vick maintains that he does not need to practice in order to play, but the risk remains that the injury could be easily aggravated by contact. He has not been ruled out for Sunday's game, but it would be surprising to see him back in Week 6.

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Could the consecutive starts streak end at 289? It's at least a topic of discussion this week as Favre is reportedly battling tendinitis in his throwing elbow. Generally speaking, tendinitis in that area refers to inflammation of the common extensor tendon, a wide band that represents the "common" attachment of the wrist extensors just above the elbow. In addition to extending the wrist, the extensors are involved in grip. In the case of a quarterback, ball control and delivery is affected by the function of this group of muscles. Tendons are the tissue that anchor muscle to bone, so when muscles contract, the contractile energy is transferred through the tendon to the bony attachment, resulting in movement. The bottom line: If Favre throws, he's stressing the injured area. With rest being the best form of management, the question naturally arises as to just how much rest Favre will require. Coach Brad Childress told reporters that the team will limit Favre's practice reps in an effort to rest the elbow, and Favre told reporters he would consider sitting out a game or two if the condition worsens.



Really? Are we to believe the man who has played through an MCL sprain, ulnar nerve irritation, a partially torn biceps tendon, chronic ankle pain and various assorted other ailments might consider sitting for some tendinitis? It seems highly doubtful that Favre would sit because of pain alone but he might sit (emphasis on "might") if he feels that his condition would present a liability to the team. After Monday night's loss to the Jets, Favre lamented that some passes got away from him late in the game because of the elbow. Managing the elbow condition becomes the name of the game here because complete recovery is not likely to occur in-season and the Vikings' bye week has come and gone. It's certainly a situation worth watching for fantasy owners, but until a Sunday comes and goes without Favre on the field, it's hard to imagine him sitting out a game.

Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, Cleveland Browns: We noted the injuries to both quarterbacks in Tuesday's blog and the outlook is no better for either of them to return this week. In fact, coach Eric Mangini is indicating that the team is leaning toward Colt McCoy getting the start. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Mangini said Thursday that "the lean is more pronounced."

Running Backs

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: As noted in Tuesday's blog, Hillis aggravated his quad strain Sunday, and he had not practiced through Thursday. That, however, will not keep him from Sunday's game, according to Mangini. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Mangini expects Hillis to be available Sunday but also notes that newly acquired running back Mike Bell is "a fit for the plays we have for Peyton." Sounds like the Browns wanted Hillis-specific insurance. There's no doubting Hillis' toughness, but there might be some doubt as to whether he can be Hillis-like in the presence of this injury. And the Browns have the Pittsburgh Steelers on the docket this week. This could be a risky week for Hillis fantasy owners.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: It seemed as if Mathews was out of the woods with regards to his ankle injury, but that does not appear to be the case. Lingering soreness in the ankle has kept Mathews from practicing fully, and this week Mathews was not in practice at all Wednesday. Coach Norv Turner has hinted over the past two weeks that the goal is to have Mathews functioning like a feature back but not at the risk of setting him back. If Mathews is not able to fully practice during the week, he is not likely to be placed in that role. Mathews' ability to play Sunday does not appear to be in jeopardy, but he could very well be sharing the job with Mike Tolbert. Fantasy owners just love hearing that.

Wide Receivers:

Calvin Johnson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCalvin Johnson's arm and shoulder issues could keep him out this week against the Giants.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Although we have not heard specifics about Johnson's injury, we have heard enough to be concerned about his status this week. Johnson was present at practice Wednesday and Thursday but he has not been able to make much use of his right arm. On Wednesday, he ran routes but caught no passes. Johnson told reporters that his range of motion was not quite all the way back. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Johnson remained limited in Thursday's practice, still heavily favoring his right arm and catching passes primarily with his left. If Johnson is still struggling with overhead motion, it's unlikely that he is back to form by Sunday. We should learn more after practice Friday, but with the Lions heading for a bye next week, it would not be surprising if Johnson rests Sunday if there is no further progress.



Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones, Houston Texans: Johnson appeared to emerge from Week 5 relatively unscathed and will no doubt forge ahead into Week 6. Johnson's ankle is not perfect but that didn't stop him from being the top receiver for the Texans last week. Jones and his calf are another matter. Jones, who did not practice last week, was not back in practice Wednesday and is being called day-to-day at this point.

Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts: Collie, despite being in a protective boot most of last week, did end up playing Sunday and appeared to run well. Collie was back in the boot to start the week, however, and did not practice Wednesday, which reminds us that he is not fully recovered. Based on his routine last week, there is no reason to worry just yet about Collie's Sunday availability. Garcon did not practice Wednesday either, but there were no reports of a setback after his return to the field Sunday. Gonzalez, who has missed multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain, did limited work Wednesday and could be on track for a return this week.

The lineup for the Colts' receivers should also become clearer after Friday practices.

Quick Hits


In Indianapolis, there are questions at running back as well as receiver. Joseph Addai, who suffered an injury to his neck and shoulder area last week, participated in limited practice Wednesday and Thursday. It appears that he will be available this week. Teammate Donald Brown is back in practice after a hamstring injury also, but he is still limited.

LeSean McCoy
Hunter Martin/Getty ImagesLeSean McCoy rushed for 92 yards last Sunday despite dealing with a rib injury that nearly kept him out.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday, but expect him to be in the action this week. After all, if he could play as well as he did just one week after cracking a rib, there's no reason to think he'll be hampered this week. Keep in mind that former Browns running back Jerome Harrison, recently acquired by the team for Mike Bell, is around to back up McCoy as needed.

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas has yet to return to practice, thus putting his status for this week in doubt again. While he has not been ruled out, it's worth noting that the Saints added former Seahawks running back Julius Jones to their roster. Coach Sean Payton assured reporters that the move was just for "depth" and not a reaction to the play of Chris Ivory or Ladell Betts. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush is still sidelined with a broken fibula and has yet to run outdoors. This weekend marks the four-week mark since Bush's injury (he originally projected himself to be back in four weeks), and he is hoping to return in the next week or two. We'll see how he advances in terms of activity, but the original six-week projection still appears likely.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski does not look like he will have recovered enough from his shoulder injury to take the field Sunday. He did not practice Wednesday, and Jason Campbell is taking the first-team reps. Running back Darren McFadden is still not fully recovered for this week's contest after sitting out Week 5. He did return to the practice field Wednesday, but Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports coach Tom Cable says Michael Bush will remain the starter this week with McFadden's hamstring not yet 100 percent.



Lions running back Jahvid Best did not practice Wednesday but was back Thursday. The day off may have been a proactive rest day, as there has been no word of any setback. While Best is likely still dealing with some level of discomfort, he certainly has been pressing forward and playing each week. His performance in Week 5, while not outstanding, was certainly improved from the prior week so the hope is that he will continue to trend upward.



Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno did not practice Wednesday but got back on the field Thursday. It's too early to determine his Sunday status, but moderate practice is quite different from a full game.

See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 6 in the Saturday morning blog!



The joy in the city of New Orleans is palpable as the NFL season gets under way tonight. As I walked the streets Wednesday, an always friendly city seemed even friendlier, almost giddy, with "Who Dats" all around as everyone gears up for opening night. The start of the NFL season has a holiday feel here as schools and businesses close early today so that everyone can enjoy the festivities. Isn't that what the start of the football season is all about?

It's true that the New Orleans Saints' fans are still celebrating their Super Bowl victory. But everyone has reason to be excited about the start of the NFL season, because at this point, everyone's a winner. And that includes you, the fantasy owners. No matter who you've drafted or what your leaguemates think of your roster, everyone is on even par until the first week of matchups is complete.

The key to making sure you celebrate at the end of your fantasy season as much as you do at the start is managing your team well week in and week out. Injuries have always been one of the big levelers in any fantasy football league and it will be no different this year. As any fantasy owner knows, injuries are already making their mark on the 2010 season. Here are a few to consider as we head into Thursday's season opener.

Brett Favre
Tom Dahlin/Getty ImagesBrett Favre's consecutive games streak is still intact, but an ankle injury could give him trouble for a good part of the season.
Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings (P): Favre's left ankle is likely to be a topic of discussion throughout the season. Unlike last year, when Favre underwent a minor procedure on his throwing shoulder, which allowed him to resume play without incident, this year's ankle procedure is not a quick fix. The surgery to remove loose bodies no doubt alleviated some of the pain and improved Favre's ankle mobility, but this was his third surgery on the ankle and there are arthritic changes that cannot be undone. That was evident when Favre indicated he had recently received an injection of a lubricant into the joint. These injections provide a soothing effect for the cartilage and can help with pain and mobility, but the underlying condition remains.



The key to keeping Favre on the field will be protection up front, minimizing the contact he absorbs and granting him enough time to make plays without being forced to scramble regularly. Favre's offensive options have taken a hit with the loss of Sidney Rice for multiple weeks and the extended absence of Percy Harvin during the preseason. Favre himself has seen only limited preseason action given his late arrival and in an effort to protect his health. It will be interesting to see in the first week how all of these factors come together and how playing an entire game impacts Favre.

Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings: Harvin's preseason migraine challenges got everyone's attention, including that of his teammates, but here's what should get fantasy owners' attention: Harvin is not on the injury report in advance of the Thursday night opener. Barring a late surprise, Harvin will be on the field and he is expected to see plenty of action not only as a receiver but also as a kickoff return specialist. Harvin may be a favored target for Favre in the passing game with Sidney Rice out following hip surgery. There will be lingering uncertainty for fantasy owners as to whether Harvin will be limited because of migraines down the road, but at least for Week 1 it appears to be all systems go.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints (P): Colston reportedly suffered a bruised kidney during the Saint's final preseason game, but the condition apparently wasn't that serious, as he was cleared to return to practice. Colston was a full participant in workouts throughout this week and has indicated that he is feeling fine heading into Thursday's game. Colston, who also underwent minor offseason knee surgery, should not have any limitations. Breathe a sigh of relief, fantasy owners.

Robert Meachem, WR, New Orleans Saints: No, Meachem is not on the injury report, but he is someone fantasy owners may have been keeping their eye on given that he missed part of the preseason. Meachem underwent surgery on the second toe on his right foot in May to address a problem that actually began late last year. According to NewOrleans.com, despite resting his toe following the Super Bowl run, it continued to nag at Meachem during the team's offseason program, leading to the decision to undergo surgery. As a result he was on the active/physically unable to perform (PUP) list to start training camp but was activated in mid-August.

Meachem has practiced since and even played in a couple of preseason contests. However, at times he has appeared to be bothered by the toe and not quite back to his deep threat ways. Knowing that Meachem had his shoe customized to include a shank support under the insole (which helps protect a toe by limiting mobility), I thought perhaps the shank might alter how his foot feels when pushing off, which athletes sometimes complain about while adjusting to it. When I spoke with Meachem after Wednesday's practice, he indicated that the presence of the shank does not bother him, and that it feels "natural." In fact, he says he is working on getting all of the natural elements of his position to come together, which I took to mean that he is just working his way back toward receiver shape. It will be worth watching how Meachem fares in the season opener to gauge just how far he's come.

Other quick hits


• Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was back in full practice Wednesday for the Arizona Cardinals. He missed several weeks of the preseason after sustaining an MCL sprain but this news points to his readiness for the season opener. A bigger concern might be the fact that teammate Beanie Wells was not in practice Wednesday after suffering a knee injury in the final preseason game. Wells has downplayed this injury since it happened, but absence from practice days before the season opener is a concern. At this point, the expectation is that he will still play, but what he does in practice later in the week could be telling.

• One major bit of news is that Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart was not on the team's midweek injury report. That might be the most positive sign since Stewart returned to team practices following offseason Achilles surgery.

• Also off the injury report this week is Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant. Bryant, who was sidelined through the bulk of training camp with a high ankle sprain, is eager to showcase his skills and it looks like he will have that opportunity this weekend. ... Meanwhile, quarterback Donovan McNabb is the expected starter on Sunday night when the Washington Redskins face the Dallas Cowboys. As if there were really any doubt. McNabb has been nursing a sprained ankle during the preseason but practiced fully Wednesday. While McNabb maintains that the ankle might not yet be 100 percent, this is not going to be the type of thing to get in the way of football.

Maurice Jones-Drew
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesMaurice Jones-Drew is not on the injury list right now, but questions about his knee still remain.
• Perhaps the most significant fantasy player with an injury concern is Maurice Jones-Drew. The concern revolves primarily around the lack of information related to his supposed ailing knee. Jones-Drew was held out of practices for more than a week for "rest" while he and the Jacksonville Jaguars quashed reports of an alleged surgical procedure. Jones-Drew has insisted all along that he's fine and ready to play, but fantasy owners have been understandably mystified. One positive sign for fantasy owners is Jones-Drew's absence from the Jaguars' midweek injury report. It appears there is no doubt he will be in Sunday's starting lineup but whether this is something that will crop up again down the road remains to be seen.

• The Denver Broncos are looking forward to the return of running back Knowshon Moreno, who has missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. Moreno was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and his status for Sunday does not appear to be in doubt. The bigger question for him will be how his hamstring holds up to the test of game play.

Oakland Raiders running back Michael Bush continues to impress following surgery to repair a Bennett's fracture in his thumb. Bush has participated in limited practice this week with his thumb splinted, but head coach Tom Cable says Bush is doing more and more. Cable even went so far as to tell the Oakland Tribune that there is "a real chance" that Bush could play in Week 1. Fantasy owners should not get overly excited just yet. Even if Bush plays -- and it would be surprising if he did -- his work is likely to be very limited. Nonetheless, his progress is encouraging and he will almost certainly beat out initial projections of a lengthier absence.

Be sure to check back Saturday for the late updates on key players heading into Sunday's contests. In the meantime, enjoy the season opener and celebrate the start of fantasy football leagues everywhere!

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