Stephania Bell: Dallas Clark



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



Quick Hits


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



It 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!

LT and Peterson to be limited at best

September, 20, 2008
9/20/08
4:44
PM ET
Talk about injury-themed trends. I'm not sure if it's a big-toe-injury trend. (LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Darren McFadden and Bernard Berrian are all dealing with these). Or maybe it's the I-drafted-him-as-my-top-running-back-but-he's-hurt trend. (Again LT makes the list, along with Adrian Peterson, Willis McGahee and Laurence Maroney.) Maybe it's the No. 1 and No. 2 guys-may-not-go trend if you own Justin Fargas and McFadden or Maroney and LaMont Jordan (or in the case of Seattle's wide receivers, the Nos. 1-5 and counting ... Can you believe that newly signed Koren Robinson is already on the injury report because of soreness in his knee?). Wherever you want to find a trend this year that links fantasy football and injuries, you can create one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a couple of IDP tidbits ...


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

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

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for Week 2.

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

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

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

Roethlisberger should play

September, 13, 2008
9/13/08
1:29
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Here's a fun fact: The Miami Dolphins have a clean injury report. That's right. Nobody, no one, not a single player is on their injury report this week. I'm not sure I've ever seen this before, but how happy must a team be when they can submit their injury report to the league office Friday afternoon and it's a blank sheet? Is there anyone out there in fantasy league-land who has every player on their roster healthy? I didn't think so. That's why we bring you the injury updates heading into Week 2. Set your injury-adjusted lineups and hope for a healthy week.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
George Gojkovich/Getty ImagesRoethlisberger should be out on the field leading the Steelers, but if a blowout occurs, he could get pulled.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Although he didn't practice Wednesday due to the sore throwing shoulder, he did some work Thursday and managed a full practice Friday. Roethlisberger is listed as probable, meaning he is expected to play, but if the shoulder starts to give him trouble as the game goes on, or if he shows signs of fatigue in the arm, expect his playing time to be limited. Roethlisberger has a history of playing through various ailments, and this should be no different, but the team will make every effort to preserve him for the long haul.

Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Barber was already looking like someone who expected to play Monday night despite a rib injury in that he fully practiced Wednesday and Thursday. Friday did nothing to dispel that as he practiced fully yet again. He is officially listed as probable, and with the extra day of rest, it appears he will see a regular workload. Perhaps even more significant is the idea that he has been doing so well already, he may not need to wear the protective gear that could make ballhandling a little more challenging. For someone who relies on speed and ball control, carrying no extra weight and minimizing interference is a bonus. Barber looks to be in good shape for Monday night.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, and Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: Who knew that big-toe problems could be contagious? The Chargers have another star plagued by a big-toe injury, as Tomlinson jammed it in last week's contest. The good news is that X-rays were negative, but the toe was painful enough that Tomlinson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Tomlinson was able to practice fully Friday, but he is only listed as questionable on the Chargers' injury report. According to ESPN reports, Tomlinson believes that based on what he was able to do in Friday's practice and how he felt afterward that he is closer to probable to play Sunday.

The role of the big toe in every aspect of running, pivoting, cutting and jumping cannot be overemphasized, as it has to bear the weight of the entire body with any pushing off. If the ligaments around the toe are injured, repeated stress not only causes pain but can make it difficult to heal. It appears that Tomlinson will play Sunday, but if the toe becomes a limiting factor, he may see decreased time on the field.

Meanwhile, teammate Antonio Gates put up a decent performance in Week 1 in his first outing since undergoing surgery on his big toe. He appeared to suffer no major setbacks, although he did come out of Week 1 with a sore hip to add to the toe discomfort, and as a result was limited in practice early in the week. Gates, however, was a full go in practice Friday and is listed as probable, which bodes well for his Sunday status. He acknowledges that his toe is not 100 percent, but told the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier in the week that the more he does, the better it becomes. Clearly his confidence in the foot is coming back.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Clark is listed as questionable and, although he was able to do some practice activity Friday, is far from certain to be on the field Sunday. Clark injured his knee last Sunday, and despite the negative MRI had enough discomfort to keep him from doing anything in practice until Friday. It does not sound like we should expect much, if anything, from him this week.

There is good news elsewhere on the Colts' offensive front, however. Center Jeff Saturday, who just a couple of weeks ago was considering surgery on his torn medial collateral ligament (MCL), chose to undergo conservative treatment and is well ahead of schedule. Saturday was able to participate fully in practice all week and has a shot to play this weekend. Even if he doesn't take the field this week, the progress he is making has to make the Colts, and Peyton Manning in particular, very happy. If not this week, expect to see Saturday back next week in tandem with his quarterback.

[+] EnlargeRyan Grant
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireGrant is clearly not 100 percent, but he'll make a go of it this weekend.
Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers: Grant had a nice first week, even while operating at less than top speed. But Grant was reportedly very sore at halftime of Monday night's contest, a sign that the hamstring was clearly not fully healed. The Packers have helped Grant manage this injury well, as they are no doubt acutely aware of the risk of this turning into a season-long problem. Consequently Grant was kept to limited practice reps early in the week to allow his leg some more rest.

Grant did practice fully Friday and expects to play, but he is listed as questionable, and the Packers will want to see how he feels Saturday morning before they make a final decision on his status. Coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "He looked good. Really the question for Ryan will be tomorrow, same thing we went through last week. How does the hamstring feel in the morning? They worked it. They pushed him as far as he probably could go today, and we'll see how he is tomorrow." If Grant feels good Saturday, his chances of playing go way up.

Teammate Brandon Jackson is listed as probable and is expected to play after suffering a concussion Monday night that kept him out of practice Wednesday and limited Thursday. In fact, Jackson will likely be used more to balance Grant's playing time, given that Grant is still not 100 percent.

Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Brown did not play last week after aggravating his injured hamstring mid-week. This week did not exactly provide encouragement that he is ready to return. Brown is listed as questionable, but did not practice Wednesday and practiced only on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. Brown told the Philadelphia Daily News that he was "very limited" after Thursday's practice. I trust the words of the athlete, and this does not sound like he is confident in his recovery just yet. Of course there is the extra day, given that the Eagles play Monday night, but Brown will likely be a game-time decision, something fantasy owners should shy away from. Besides, given the fact that Brown spent most of the preseason and the first week of the season injured (first the Achilles', now the hamstring), it would be worth watching his first-game performance to see how he fares before expecting big things.

Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: McGahee was active last week, but you wouldn't know it. He spent the entire game on the sidelines, pacing a bit, hoping to get into the game. But the Ravens' coaching staff decided it would be best to wait. McGahee is now listed as probable in Week 2 and is expected to take the field Monday night (the game was moved to Monday because of Hurricane Ike in Texas).

As far as how the knee feels, the Ravens' official Web site quoted McGahee as saying "It gets better every day, so I can't complain." In addition to having the extra week to rest his knee, McGahee had additional time to work with a new offensive system and get into game shape. Expect McGahee to see action Monday, although he may not appear as the "feature" back. The Baltimore Sun reports that a full workload may not be in the game plan for McGahee, as he will likely split carries with Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain. McGahee will need to prove his commitment to working hard as a team player, while demonstrating that he can physically handle the workload before he is allowed to assume a major role. Fantasy owners should keep that in mind.

And a couple of IDP tidbits ...


OK, Carly. This section is introduced this week per your request.

Derrick Brooks, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brooks is still dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. He has not been able to practice all week and is listed as questionable. Unfortunately, his 193-consecutive-game streak is at risk of being broken this week, but ultimately the team needs to make the best decision for his long-term health. Expect Brooks to be a game-time decision.

Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tennessee Titans: Haynesworth suffered a concussion during last week's contest, and as a result was held out of practice all week. Haynesworth says he expects to play, but the team will not likely make a final decision until Sunday morning before the game. He is officially listed as questionable. Concussions are not something teams take lightly, and Haynesworth will have a series of tests he will need to pass before he is cleared to play.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, San Diego Chargers: Cromartie has a sore hip that kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. He was able to practice on a limited basis Friday and is listed as questionable, so he has a chance of being on the field. He is also likely to be a game-time decision. The Chargers have to hope they will have him available to match up against Denver's double threats, Brandon Marshall (returning this week after a suspension) and impressive rookie Eddie Royal.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured-reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for Week 2.

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Aaron Stecker, RB, New Orleans Saints: You knew Colston was out with a surgically repaired thumb. Stecker now joins him with a hamstring injury. Reggie Bush looked good last week, and Pierre Thomas showed he was a factor. Expect Deuce McAllister to get back into the game this week as well, although how much he will be utilized remains a question.

Drew Bennett, WR, St. Louis Rams: He has a foot fracture. He will appear in this section for at least a month.

Brodie Croyle, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Croyle has a separated shoulder and will likely miss two weeks, minimum.

Bobby Engram, WR and Maurice Morris, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Seattle's poor offense and their string of bad luck continue. Expect these two to be here for a few more weeks.

Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans: The knee, the hamstring, and everything else. His timetable is very hard to predict right now.

Kevin Curtis, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Still recovering from sports-hernia surgery but coming along nicely. The Eagles hope to have him back in the first half of October.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at 12 p.m. EST. Good luck in Week 2!

In the course of 48 hours, we have learned of three key players whose 2008 season ended almost as quickly as it began. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is going to have season-ending surgery on his left knee. The Patriots have yet to specify the exact nature of his injury, but it likely involves at least one major ligament if surgery is involved. The Seattle Seahawks, who were thin at wide receiver to begin with, lost Nate Burleson to a torn ACL, and he too will undergo reconstructive surgery. Lastly, San Diego Chargers All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman had a significant knee injury that was well-documented before his start of the season. Merriman played substantially in Week 1, but apparently the knee issues proved too daunting to overcome. Merriman has now been placed on injured reserve as he too prepares to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.



For all the fantasy owners in mourning over this latest turn of events, don't despair; that's why there's the waiver wire. At least you know these players are done. On the other hand, there are plenty of players who got nicked up this weekend whose status is a little less than certain. Here's what we know so far.

Vince Young
AP Photo/John RussellVince Young likely will miss at least a couple of games with a knee injury.
Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans: Tests have confirmed the initial diagnosis of a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain, according to The Tennessean. Early reports suggested that Young could miss two to four weeks, which, for a mild sprain, represents a feasible time frame for a quarterback. Since the lateral mobility demands for a quarterback are less than that for a running back, a quarterback can often return to action a little sooner, wearing a brace for reinforcement. Young plays a physical game, though, and it would be surprising to see him back early, especially considering how much pain he looked to be in at the time of the injury. He was also nursing a sore hamstring heading into Week 1, so he may benefit from extra time to ensure that he is truly healthy before he attempts to return.



The other issues surrounding Young's overall well-being cannot be ignored. Nashville police were searching for Young on Monday night when his family did not know where he was and he did not have his cell phone with him. All ended well, and it turned out that Young was with a friend, but the incident raised the specter of how adversity might be affecting the young quarterback. Young's mother, Felicia Young, told The Tennessean, "It is hard, all he is going through right now. He's hurting inside and out."



If Young is your quarterback, be sure to get a replacement this week. It looks as if the reins have been turned over to Kerry Collins for the immediate future, and there is no guarantee, particularly if Collins does well, that Young automatically assumes his role when he returns.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: There does not appear to be any major cause for concern here. After all, what sort of football season would it be in Pittsburgh if Big Ben were not getting a bit banged up? Roethlisberger appeared to suffer a leg injury (later called a knee bruise) in the first half and looked to be limping, but returned in the second half, proving it was not serious. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said his knee was hyperextended on a tackle by Amobi Okoye.



Turns out Roethlisberger also suffered a bruised shoulder in the season opener, thanks to a Mario Williams sack. That injury seemed to be a bigger concern to coach Mike Tomlin, who told the Post-Gazette that he expects Roethlisberger to be limited in practice with the sore shoulder. Other than calling it sore, there has been no particular diagnosis on Roethlisberger's shoulder, which is a good sign. A hard fall on the turf, when it doesn't result in a separated shoulder, can impact the rotator cuff tendons. Any swelling or bruising in the area could affect a thrower's ability to deliver the ball accurately. Rest, ice and some treatment in the training room are no doubt a big part of Roethlisberger's schedule over the next few days. Stay tuned.

Marion Barber
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireMarion Barber had two scores in Week 1, but his hard rushing style has already resulted in an injury.
Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Team owner Jerry Jones told the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram that Barber likely will have to play in some pain for a while. I wonder if he's ever had a rib cartilage injury. Hmmm. It hurts just to take a deep breath, much less take a hit from a large human moving at breakneck speed.

That aside, it does sound as if the Cowboys expect Barber to return to practice Wednesday and be ready for Monday night. Despite the optimism, keep an eye on practice reports throughout the week, as this is the type of injury that can linger. It's also possible that Barber may wear added protection for his ribs. The bulkiness of the extra gear can make ballhandling a bit more difficult, so players often prefer not to use it. After Barber practices this week, we should have a better picture of his Monday status.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints: Wow, this one was a surprise! Colston apparently suffered a ligament injury to his left thumb during Sunday's game, which ultimately required surgery. The surgery was performed Tuesday, according to The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, and Colston is projected to be out at least a month. Depending on the healing process, the time frame could extend upwards to six to eight weeks. No specifics have been given as to which ligament was damaged, but in all cases, the role of the thumb for a receiver is critical in terms of ballhandling. This is not exactly a position where it would be easy to return wearing a splint or a cast, so expect him to be out closer to six to eight weeks. More catches could be in line for David Patten, Devery Henderson and tight end Jeremy Shockey as a result.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Clark underwent an MRI on his injured right knee, but the specifics have not been made public. According to The Indianapolis Star, general manager Bill Polian said team physicians were "fairly optimistic" about Clark's knee. This is another situation where Clark's practice activity this week should give a better hint as to whether he will be available this weekend. Coach Tony Dungy told the Star that he hopes Clark will be OK, but "if it is going to be a couple of weeks, we'll adjust." It sounds like contingency plans should be made if you're a Clark owner.

Drew Bennett
Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesAs if the Rams offense needed any more bad news, Drew Bennett has a fractured foot.
Drew Bennett, WR, St. Louis Rams: Bennett suffered a foot fracture in Sunday's opener and is expected to miss at least a month and probably longer. Fractures take four to six weeks to heal, and then there's the issue of actually being able to run, turn, jump and land on the foot effectively enough to play the receiver position. If Bennett is on your fantasy team, it's probably worth going in a new direction as it will be quite some time before he could potentially contribute. Not to mention the Rams' offense didn't exactly light it up in Week 1. Bennett is likely to be replaced by rookie Keenan Burton, and the Rams just signed veteran Eddie Kennison.

Maurice Morris, RB, Seattle Seahawks: It wasn't enough for the Seahawks to lose a receiver to injury. They also saw one of their running backs exit the game with a knee sprain. Fortunately, Morris' injury was not as serious as Burleson's, but nonetheless he is expected to miss at least two weeks. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seahawks are hopeful that Morris, Deion Branch (still recovering from a reconstructed left ACL) and Bobby Engram (healing from a fractured shoulder) will all return after Seattle's Week 4 bye. Former Cowboy Julius Jones will get the starting nod at running back in Seattle, at least for the time being.

Jeff Garcia, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Garcia sprained his ankle Sunday but managed to finish the game, tough guy that he is. It does appear that the ankle injury could be problematic, though, since coach Jon Gruden told The Tampa Tribune that Garcia had swelling, and he has been labeled as questionable this week. Garcia was already nursing a calf injury during camp as well as a jammed pinkie finger on his throwing hand. Garcia is known to play through pain, but wasn't altogether effective last Sunday, which may factor into the overall decision on whether to start him.

Fantasy owners beware. We've been down a similar road before. Late last season, Garcia took a shot to the back and was stiff, sat out part of practice, but by the end of the week was assuring everyone that he could play. At the last minute, Gruden scratched him from his start, much to the dismay of Garcia fantasy owners. For his part, Gruden told The Tampa Tribune that he wants to decide who will be under center by Wednesday. (Brian Griese is the backup in Tampa Bay).

Let's see what Garcia actually does in practice this week, but if you own him in your league, secure a replacement just in case.



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Ahman Green, RB, Houston Texans: Did you really think Green would stay healthy the entire season? He has had a tough time of it over the past year or so. Last year, he was continually challenged with inflammation in his knee that effectively ended his season prematurely. This year he was limited in camp with a groin injury but had recovered enough to suit up for Week 1. The clean bill of health did not last long, however, as Green was forced to the sideline early with an ankle injury. Other than listing him as day-to-day on their official Web site, the Texans have not released the specifics as to the nature of Green's ankle problem.

Rookie Steve Slaton saw increased action as a result and likely will continue along that path. However, according to the Texans' official Web site, they plan to bring in some other running backs for workouts and may also consider bringing up Darius Walker from the practice squad. Could Shaun Alexander show up here? He's certainly made it known that he's available. This could get interesting.

That should get your waiver wires going for the week. Be sure to tune in to my chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET here on ESPN.com as we discuss all things injury-related. Also, my injury blog will update Saturday with the latest injury-report information headed into the Sunday games.

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