Stephania Bell: Derrick Ward

Keep close eye on injured Steelers

October, 6, 2011

The season has ended for two more players: Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne will undergo surgery to repair a separated left (nonthrowing) shoulder suffered in Week 4, and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola will need surgery to repair a torn left triceps. Amendola has been out since the season opener after dislocating his elbow. As if the injuries alone weren't bad enough, ESPN sports business contributor Andrew Brandt points out that both players were in the final year of their respective contracts. Entering free agency with the uncertainty of coming off season-ending surgeries is less than desirable. At least Henne can point to Matthew Stafford as someone who had a similar surgery on his throwing shoulder, and we all (especially appreciative fantasy owners) know how well his recovery has turned out.

With that we turn to those players who could affect your fantasy roster this week.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
Mitch Stringer/US PresswireBen Roethlisberger expects to play Sunday, but don't expect him to be terribly mobile.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger was wearing a protective boot at Wednesday's practice and is limiting stress on it early in the week. After he got back to practice Thursday, the expectation is that Roethlisberger will play Sunday. The team already is making preparations for that possibility, not unlike those taken last season to protect his then-ailing right foot. Roethlisberger indicates he will wear a modified shoe, one that is a size larger than normal with a metal reinforcement to limit bending in the injured region of his foot. While the shoe is intended to protect his foot, by design, it also limits mobility in the forefoot. Since it is the left foot that is affected, the one Roethlisberger steps into as he throws (i.e., not his plant foot), the injury is not likely to significantly affect his delivery. Unless pain prevents Roethlisberger from transferring his weight properly and forces him to throw from his back foot, passing should not be a huge issue.

Thursday practice undoubtedly went a long way in proving he could make necessary throws. General mobility, particularly movements such as pivoting to the right, which requires pushing off the left foot, will be more challenging. That said, Roethlisberger repeatedly has demonstrated that he can play through pain and perform effectively even when his mobility is compromised. Of concern has to be the fact that he already has been sacked 14 times this season. Naturally, the more protection Roethlisberger can secure Sunday when the Steelers face the Tennessee Titans, the less the chances of aggravating the injury in-game, so the offensive line is officially on notice.

Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward, RB, Houston Texans: Foster had a strong Week 4, rushing for 155 yards on 30 carries, and, most importantly, he emerged from the game no worse for the wear. Foster's health is critical this week with the team's primary receiver, Andre Johnson, having suffered a significant injury and the team's depth at running back compromised somewhat by injury this week as well. Tate suffered a groin injury in Week 4 and left the game early. While the team says he is making progress, he has not practiced yet this week. Ward has been out since Week 1 because of a high ankle sprain. He received an injection last week, and although he has not yet practiced, he has done some light running and cutting, according to the Houston Chronicle. Ward hopes to return to practice Friday, at which point the Sunday game plan for running backs should start to take shape. The one thing that appears certain is that Foster is expected start and carry a heavy workload against the Oakland Raiders.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Mendenhall strained his hamstring in Week 4 and was unable to practice Wednesday or Thursday. While Mendenhall still could make an appearance Friday, practice sessions are preparing Isaac Redman to be the starter. Redman showed some nice running ability when he stepped in for Mendenhall in Week 4, perhaps making the decision easier to allow Mendenhall's hamstring adequate recovery time. Fantasy owners in need of a running back for Week 5 should try to snap up Redman if he's still available.

Quick Hits

• Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson will be out for an extended period, as we indicated Tuesday. While the Texans have acknowledged that Johnson underwent some type of procedure on his hamstring, the details have been notably absent. There have been multiple reports of a projected three-week timetable. However, coach Gary Kubiak, speaking to reporters after Wednesday practice, indicated the team would not put a timeline on Johnson's return, saying, "The doctor feels good about it. Andre feels good about it." There you have it. Everyone's feeling good.

Everyone, that is, except fantasy owners wondering what to do with Johnson. The short-term approach is wait and see. Johnson showed remarkable resiliency last season in mostly playing through an ankle injury that likely would have sidelined others longer, and clearly the Texans expect to have him back this season. Although Johnson is likely to miss several weeks, if his hamstring is indeed improving, his activity level should increase within the next week. Only once he starts pushing it will we get a sense of whether things are going according to plan. For now, it seems a little early to jump ship. Meanwhile, Jacoby Jones becomes the Texans' No. 1 wide receiver option.

[+] EnlargeAaron Hernandez
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesAaron Hernandez has missed the past two games with injury but had TDs in his first two games of the season.
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez might be the most asked about player in my chats, emails and Twitter. I wonder whether he knows just how popular he is. He hasn't appeared in this space since last week because once a player is ruled out of a game, there's nothing to report until he returns to practice ... or goes backward. So today, some good news. Hernandez was not only at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis, but it was a full pads workout. That is a pretty strong signal that he is at least testing the knee (and his sprained MCL) with a more rigorous workout to see how it responds. This is at least encouraging for the prospects of having Hernandez available Sunday; it will be even more so if he follows it up with another practice Friday. Caution is warranted, however. It might still be early for return to competition, but if Hernandez holds up well this week, it certainly suggests his return could be near.

New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a swollen knee. According to the New York Daily News, Jacobs wanted to return to practice Thursday but was held out an extra day "to be safe." The concern is still only minor, unless Jacobs is "safely" held out again Friday.

Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant returned to full practice this week after receiving medical clearance. Grant missed Week 4 with a bruised kidney but was actually feeling well early in the week. Consider it a week to get fresh legs. Grant should be a full go Sunday night in Atlanta.

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno is participating fully in practice. After just two carries for 4 yards last week, the hope is he will increase his activity this week. Daily practice with no setbacks could go a long way in making that happen.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson does not appear on the injury report this week. The groin injury he aggravated earlier this season seems to be doing better. Teammate C.J. Spiller did not practice Wednesday due to a sore knee but was back to full practice Thursday.

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is again looking like he'll be out Sunday, as he has not practiced in order to rest his sore foot. Teammate Vincent Jackson has a hamstring strain to accompany the abdominal strain he's been nursing for a few weeks. Jackson is likely to have a week much like last week in which he spends most of it resting. The team hopes he will be able to go Sunday -- and he certainly has delivered despite being at less than full capacity -- but the dual injury combination might affect just how much playing time he'll see.

• And San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore tells reporters his ankle is feeling much better this week than last. It's amazing what a big late-game performance and a 3-1 record can do for one's spirits. So far Gore has been limited in practice, but if he played last week, it's a safe bet he'll be out there again Sunday when the 49ers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 5 in the Saturday morning blog.


Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: On Tuesday, we outlined Bradford's injury concerns following the hit to his index finger in Week 1. On Wednesday, the Rams got some good news (one might say deservedly so, after all of the blows they were dealt on Sunday). Bradford returned to practice sooner than expected and looked better than expected. He was making numerous throws in practice Wednesday, prompting wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker to say, "I would've never thought he had a hand problem today, if I'd never seen the game Sunday," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Post-Dispatch notes that Bradford has been wearing a glove connected to an electrical stimulation unit to help with swelling reduction. Apparently, something has been helping. Bradford said his hand felt, "10 times better than it did on Sunday" and plans to play Monday night. Naturally one of the keys, beyond the finger feeling better, is how effectively he can deliver the ball. Based on what his teammates are saying, that question appears to have been answered. Barring a setback, Bradford's quick progress suggests he will be under center Monday night.

Running backs

[+] EnlargeArian Foster
AP Photo/Eric GayArian Foster hopes not to be sitting on the bench again this week after missing the season opener with a hamstring injury.
Arian Foster and Derrick Ward, Houston Texans: After sitting out Week 1, Foster returned to practice Wednesday and, according to coach Gary Kubiak, took the normal reps "for a starter" in the workout. Officially listed as a limited participant on the NFL injury report, Foster said that while he felt "pretty fluid" during the workout, he was still taking it day-by-day. The Texans were eager to see how Foster's hamstring responded to getting back into practice mode. It must have been no worse for the wear, considering he did it all again Thursday. writer Nick Scurfield posted via Twitter that Kubiak described Foster as "much better" today and indicates if the trend continues, Foster will play Sunday. Meanwhile, Ward, who started in place of Foster in Week 1 but left early with an ankle injury, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He appears unlikely to practice Friday either but an official decision as to his status may not come until the weekend.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: Jackson, who exited Week 1 early with a right quadriceps strain, did not practice Wednesday but instead spent time receiving treatment on his thigh. Although he has not yet been ruled out for Monday night's contest, he was deemed unlikely to play early in the week by coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he trusts Jackson with regard to his injuries noting, "He knows better than anybody how his body reacts." Given that Jackson has a bit of a history with soft tissue injuries but also works to keep himself at peak fitness, that trust in knowing when he can or can't push it is deserved. Jackson quickly removed himself from the game last week suggesting he was concerned about doing further damage and a Week 2 appearance seems unlikely. He has not practiced this week and it appears he won't.

Wide receivers

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: On Tuesday, we noted that Nicks was dealing with postgame swelling in his knee, but an MRI showed no major trauma. Nicks suffered a bone bruise but pointed out that he was injured in the first quarter yet remained in the game, which confirmed to him the injury was not particularly serious. Often, though, the swelling will come later, as it did for Nicks, leading to the follow-up testing. On Wednesday, Nicks did not practice, as expected, but told reporters that the swelling was beginning to subside and he thought he would be able to play Monday night. On Thursday, Nicks, who remained out of practice, told ESPN New York that the decision to play Monday will ultimately be his call. He indicated the swelling had gone down and it was just a matter of pain, which he described as "not too bad." He plans to go through some individual drills Friday and will evaluate how his knee responds. Nicks has proven his toughness before, so discomfort is not likely to keep him down. If the knee swells again, however, it makes it difficult to contract the muscles around the joint, making him not only potentially ineffective as a receiver but also at risk for further injury. If he does not play, Domenik Hixon (returning from 2010 ACL surgery) will likely start opposite Mario Manningham, so fantasy owners may want to get him as Monday night insurance.

More notes

• The Denver Broncos have two major offensive fantasy players on the injury radar. Both running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin) suffered injuries Monday night, both have undergone MRIs (the results of which have not been made public) and neither has practiced since. It is not looking optimistic for either player at this point, especially coming off a shortened week.

[+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson
AP Photo/Margaret BowlesCalvin Johnson has a very good matchup this week, as long as he's healthy enough to play.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who sprained his left ankle in Week 1, told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday, "Get the swelling out and I'll be ready." His non-participation in practice is likely aimed at doing exactly that, with the goal of having him available Sunday. Johnson has often been restricted or even held out of practice during past seasons in an effort to rest him for game days, so this is not unusual. Every time Johnson gets up in the air to make big plays, fantasy owners are simultaneously thrilled by the awesome catches and dreading the hard landings for fear of an injury. Somehow he manages to play through the majority of them and it appears he will again this week, barring an unexpected development.

• We can always count on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to update us on the status of his top players. On Wednesday, Jones told the Dallas Morning News that he expects wide receiver Dez Bryant (thigh contusion) to play Sunday, suggesting the rest will help him to get ready. Anyone watching the Sunday night game in Week 1 could see that Bryant was hampered. Given his extensive injury history, it would be helpful to see him doing something in practice before the Cowboys face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Friday will be important to gauge just how recovered Bryant appears.

• The New Orleans Saints know they will be without wide receiver Marques Colston for at least a month following surgery to repair a broken clavicle. But what about teammate Lance Moore, who suffered a groin injury in the preseason that sidelined him for the season opener against the Green Bay Packers? The extra time may have been just what the doctor ordered as Moore returned to limited workouts Wednesday. The last time Moore attempted practice he was out for several days -- and the first game -- as a result. This time he followed up Wednesday's practice with another (limited) practice Thursday. Not yet a lock to play Sunday, but certainly encouraging.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was able to make throws with his bruised right forearm Thursday and coach Marvin Lewis tells the Cincinnati Enquirer he expects Dalton to start Sunday. Dalton was having trouble gripping the ball and was using his left hand in Wednesday's practice. According to the Enquirer, Dalton handled short and medium throws Thursday and will test longer throws Friday. If the swelling has diminished to the point where he can grip and throw effectively, there is no reason for Dalton to be held out of Sunday's contest.

[+] EnlargeMcFadden
Cary Edmondson/US PresswireDarren McFadden was dealing with a shoulder injury and missed Wednesday's practice but still seems on track to start Sunday.
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden was kept to a limited practice Wednesday because of a sore shoulder, much to the alarm of fantasy owners everywhere. McFadden certainly absorbed his share of contact Monday night and, given his injury history, there was legitimate concern. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, McFadden was back Thursday, however, and is a "full go" for Sunday.

Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber (calf) returned to limited practice Wednesday but then didn't practice Thursday. Not a good sign. Wide receiver Roy Williams (groin) hasn't practiced at all. More ominous sign. Looks like both could be on the sidelines in Week 2.

• Bad news: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice, despite returning to a limited practice Wednesday, is being called a "long shot" by coach Pete Carroll to play this week. During an appearance on ESPN 710 in Seattle, Carroll spoke about Rice's talent, which they have yet to really see unfold in a game because of his absence. Rice is dealing with a shoulder injury he sustained during training camp.

• Good news: San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert is not on the injury report.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 2 in the Saturday morning blog!

Here we are, at last, with Week 1 of a new NFL season behind us. There were amazing individual performances (here's looking at you, Tom Brady) and outstanding team performances (the Houston Texans delivered). And yes, there were injuries. Some teams (ahem, the St. Louis Rams) seemed to amass more than their fair share. Now comes the time when fantasy owners start scouting the waiver wire or considering trades to fill the roster gaps created by injury. Every Tuesday we will have a blog entry in which we'll share with you the latest updates involving notable fantasy-relevant players and how their status is shaping up early in the week. The emphasis is on the word "early," since no official NFL injury reports are due until Wednesday, and much can happen between now and the next slate of games.

To revisit some of the oft-asked questions surrounding injuries and fantasy football, I revive an excerpt from a piece I posted a couple of years ago.

Following is a compilation of injury guidelines to help fantasy owners navigate the maze of injury-related information that emerges each week. Although injury information may emerge in bits and pieces, swathed in insinuation and innuendo, there are some hints fantasy owners can use to help them stay on course when assessing injury impact on their fantasy teams.

1. No two injuries are identical.

• Injuries often can be graded according to severity. Even then, subtle differences often dictate different healing times.

• Players heal at different rates, so just because one guy recovers from an ankle sprain in two weeks doesn't mean the next guy will recover at the same rate, even when the injury involves the same structures.

2. Player position must be considered when evaluating the impact of an injury.

• Any given injury will affect different position players differently depending on the demands of that position. A classic example is the MCL sprain, which can be more debilitating for a running back, who has to cut frequently, than for a quarterback. It often translates to different amounts of time missed.

3. A player's overall injury history is worth considering, especially if it is a repeat injury.

• A player who has been healthy for years and has his first injury often will return faster than a player who has sustained multiple injuries. This is especially the case when it comes to repetitive muscle strains in the same region. In other words, a guy who is on his fourth right-side hamstring strain should not be expected to heal as quickly or as fully as the guy with his first episode. There are of course exceptions to this (which always should be listed as the first rule of medicine).

4. The severity of an injury cannot always be determined by how it looks on the field.

• Appearances can be deceiving. Just because a guy gets up and walks off the field doesn't mean he's not injured. Sometimes the full nature of the injury is not appreciated until a day or two later. The reverse is also true. An injury can appear devastating because it is initially very painful but then turns out to be not so bad.

5. Beware of the following overused phrases:

• He's "100 percent healthy." No one is 100 percent healthy once the season starts. Usually it means that an athlete has been fully cleared and returned to play, but it doesn't mean there are no underlying long-term changes (such as cartilage damage for instance) that won't crop up again.

• It was a "mild concussion." A concussion is a brain injury. Brain injuries are always serious, so we should acknowledge them as such. We can't determine the true severity until we see how long it took for an athlete to fully recover. Period.

• That guy is "injury-prone." There is bad luck, and then there is bad tissue. Although there is never likely to be consensus on what constitutes injury-prone, it seems that if a player misses time with more than one injury in his career, he gets the label. Football is a contact sport. Injuries happen, and most often they are due to a series of random events. The average career playing time is just a few years for a reason. The term is unfairly overused, and in fantasy, people may be steering clear of a player who is highly valuable but labeled. That player could be a great waiver-wire pickup.

And now, on to the key Week 1 injuries:

[+] EnlargeJackson
AP Photo/Seth PerlmanSteven Jackson did score a touchdown in Week 1 before going down with a quad injury.
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams: Fantasy owners were no doubt excited to see Jackson scramble for a 47-yard touchdown play right out of the gate. As I watched the play, however, Jackson's last few strides looked suddenly labored, as though something was holding him back. Turns out, a strained right quadriceps was the culprit. Jackson remained in the game for one more carry but then was done for the day. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has not offered any specifics as to the degree of Jackson's thigh injury but has called him week-to-week and indicated he is likely to miss the Rams' Monday night contest in Week 2. Unfortunately, Jackson is no stranger to soft-tissue injuries, as he has missed time with quad, hamstring and groin injuries in the past. Although there is no way to predict at this moment just how much time he could miss, fantasy owners should plan on his absence for Monday and potentially a couple of weeks beyond. Cadillac Williams came into the game when Jackson left with the injury and finished with 140 total yards of offense.

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams: Bradford hurt his index finger in the fourth quarter Sunday, and the report of numbness had many worried. A fracture was ruled out when Bradford had his finger X-rayed. The team is referring to his injury as a bruised finger, and he expects to play Monday. The key will be for any swelling to subside and any nerve irritation to quiet down so that Bradford can grip the ball as needed to be effective. Naturally, how he progresses during the week is worth watching, but this could have been far worse.

Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams: The Rams are really being forced to follow the mantra of "next guy up," as they watched so many starters get injured Sunday. Amendola had perhaps the most visually disturbing injury of the day when he landed awkwardly and dislocated his left elbow. Although some said his season would end almost immediately, it's worth noting that the spectrum of damage resulting from an elbow dislocation has a wide range. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted, Amendola did not suffer a fracture (which can happen during the process of the dislocation), and head athletic trainer Reggie Scott did not believe Amendola would require surgery (suggesting there was not major ligamentous disruption, either). Nonetheless, this is a painful injury (look at the still photo of the injury if you're not sure), and there is bound to be a fair amount of swelling around the joint. The elbow will need to be protected in a splint for comfort, and treatment will focus on controlling inflammation while the soft tissues heal. Then there's the matter of getting range of motion back in the elbow and normal strength in the arm. It likely will be several weeks before Amendola could be ready to play, but the team is issuing no timetable. The positive news is that it does appear he will be able to avoid IR.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: Nicks did not speak of a knee injury after Sunday's game, but his coach, Tom Coughlin, did on Monday. According to ESPN New York, Coughlin did not elaborate on the injury, explaining it was being checked out, but he did indicate Nicks had swelling in his knee. Citing a source, ESPN New York indicated the MRI on Hicks was negative, but the swelling alone may be enough to limit him. If his knee is significantly swollen, the muscles around the knee will be limited in their capacity to contract, so he cannot be at full strength. It would not be a surprise if Nicks is out for a good portion of this week's practice, as the team will not play until Monday night. I sense a tough fantasy decision approaching for Week 2 when it comes to Nicks' status.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints: Colston suffered a broken collarbone in Thursday night's game and will be out at least a month. Clavicle fractures can be highly variable depending on the location and size of the break. Saints coach Sean Payton has indicated he will not update player status until he needs to on Wednesday. Plan on Colston being out at least four weeks but perhaps longer.

Quick hits

• The San Diego Chargers did not emerge from Sunday's contest unscathed in the injury department. Kicker Nate Kaeding was lost for the season to a torn ACL on the first play of the game as he tried to make a tackle during a kickoff return. The team is currently trying out kickers, but Kaeding will be tough to replace. Meanwhile, the Chargers got better news on running back Mike Tolbert, who appeared to injure his right knee late in the game after delivering one rushing and two receiving touchdowns. As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Tolbert was cleared by doctors Monday to return to practice and is expected to play in Week 2. Fantasy owners can exhale.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Ward
Brett Davis/US PresswireDerrick Ward started in place of the injured Arian Foster and scored a TD before getting hurt himself.
• Another team with several players of interest to fantasy owners is the Houston Texans. Running back Arian Foster and his much-discussed hamstring sat out Week 1, a wise move given that the team proved it could manage without him. Foster had increased his running workouts throughout the past week but had not formally practiced with the team. He reportedly worked out hard again on Monday, but it remains to be seen whether he will return to practice. His progress last week was encouraging, but so was the performance of his teammates in Sunday's game, so the team can afford to be patient.

Those teammates include Derrick Ward, who started in place of Foster on Sunday. Ward was faring well but exited early with a right ankle sprain, opening the fantasy door for Ben Tate. Ward said his removal from the game was precautionary, and coach Gary Kubiak seemed to downplay the injury as well, calling Ward "day-to-day." Wide receiver Kevin Walter has a bruised collarbone (not broken, as was widely reported Sunday) and according to the Houston Chronicle, Walter has not been officially ruled out of anything yet. Kubiak said of Walter's injury, "It's being treated as a bad bruise. He's probably going to miss a few days, and we'll see where he is [Wednesday] and at the end of the week." It would come as no surprise if Walter missed at least this week. A severe bruise can make it difficult to raise the arm overhead, and landing on the area can easily aggravate it.

• On Monday night, the Denver Broncos added a couple of fantasy players to the injury mix in running back Knowshon Moreno and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. The Denver Post reports that MRIs are scheduled for both Lloyd (groin) and Moreno (hamstring), and it's worth mentioning that both have a history of these injuries in their past. Although neither seemed to be in extreme pain, all fantasy owners know how these minor-appearing things sometimes can turn into bigger ones.

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

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, 3 p.m., and Friday, 11 a.m.), and we'll have further updates with blog entries on Thursday and Saturday (and as news warrants).

The Colts conundrum

December, 24, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guys whom you should NOT expect to see this weekend

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

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

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

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

Broncos RB carousel continues

December, 5, 2007

Well, it finally happened. My injury-laden fantasy team in our GMC Pro Grade League finally succumbed in a loss that pushed me out of playoff contention. But not without a fight! Despite the multiple injuries over the season, which forced me to nearly completely renew my roster, I lost by a hair (six points) to Matthew Berry, the Talented Mr. Roto, he of the high-scoring Tom Brady, Wes Welker, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Justin Fargas crew. In fact, had Brett Favre, whom I just recently acquired via trade because of the recent injuries to Donovan McNabb, not left Thursday's game with an injury, I am confident that I would have won. I guess my point is two-fold: 1) Berry can mock my undying loyalty to my 49ers, but he cannot gloat in his barely eked-out victory, and 2) I believe that I have demonstrated, by virtue of my injury-laden team, that I understand and sympathize with fantasy owners everywhere whose teams have been decimated by those unpredictable injuries that can make all the difference between agony and ecstasy.

So for those of you fortunate enough to have made the playoffs, and for those of you just trying to spoil the playoff dreams of others, here are some of the injuries fantasy owners should be aware of early this week. Keep in mind that the Thursday matchup will feature Chicago at Washington.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Well, it seems the questions about Peterson's readiness to return have been answered. He looked remarkably solid in his first outing since tearing his lateral collateral ligament, brace and all. The Vikings somewhat limited Peterson's activity as planned -- he had 15 carries and did not appear in the fourth quarter -- but he is so dangerous whenever he touches the ball that his numbers made it seem as if he played the entire game. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson felt as good as he has all year after Sunday's outing, so we can expect to see him and Chester Taylor utilized in tandem the rest of the season.

Marshawn Lynch, Bills: Coach Dick Jauron still is being cautious about Lynch's status for Sunday, saying Lynch has made a lot of progress but he doesn't want to "overstep it right now." Jauron's comments on the Bills' Web site are the most positive since Lynch's injury about four weeks ago, but they are necessarily guarded, given the nature of the injury (high ankle sprain). Lynch will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis as he practices throughout the week, and we should have a better idea of his status late in the week.

Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, Giants: The Giants have made it official. Ward has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken fibula in Sunday's contest. So will Jacobs make it back this week? It appears that way if you listen to coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin told the New York Daily News that all along, the plan has been for Jacobs to return this week, and he is not being rushed back because of Ward's injury. That sounds reasonable. Now, let's hope Jacobs can not only make it back, but also stay to finish out the year healthy.

Selvin Young and Travis Henry, Broncos: Young appeared to be the healthier back headed into Sunday's game and, in fact, was the starter. But he managed to sustain yet another injury, this one to his arm, according to the Denver Post, and his status is uncertain for this week. Meanwhile, Henry received word from the NFL that he won his suspension appeal, so now his game availability depends only on his health. Henry was able to get back in the lineup last week, so if Young cannot go, Henry likely will start. There always are more running backs to be found in Denver, though, so starting does not necessarily translate into more fantasy points. It is worth watching the practice reports throughout the week to see how the running back lineup is shaping up.

Larry Johnson, Chiefs: Johnson already has been ruled out for Week 14, but the Chiefs continue to be guarded in their statements regarding Johnson's status for the season. In comments made on the Chiefs' Web site, coach Herm Edwards reinforced the idea that no decision has been made, saying only that Johnson is "getting better" and the team will continue to evaluate him. He did say that if the star back were to return too soon and re-injure his foot, it could result in Johnson requiring surgery, which always is the potential scenario for a mid-foot injury. It is not totally clear what is going on with Johnson and the Chiefs. Johnson being ruled out so early in the week suggests he is a long way from being able to return. Yet the Chiefs continue, at least outwardly, to indicate there is hope he will return this season. Perhaps there is some motivational incentive; the potential of getting back on the field might help Johnson maintain the intensity of his rehabilitation. And he might yet return, but it remains just a possibility, not one worth taking up a spot on your fantasy roster.

LenDale White, Titans: According to the Tennessean, White (dislocated middle finger) is expected to play Sunday against the Chargers. On Monday, we mentioned fumble concerns as a possibility, especially if the finger remains sore and swollen. Given Chris Brown's effectiveness Sunday after White exited the game, there could be concern Brown will steal some action from White this week, especially if White shows any signs of struggling with the finger.


Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay: According to the St. Petersburg Times, Garcia said his back is feeling better by the day and he expects to return to practice Wednesday. Despite some residual soreness, Garcia plans to play Sunday against the Texans while his mobility and flexibility continue to improve. It still is wise to check back at the end of the week, but at this point, it sounds as if he is preparing to make his return.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles: has reported that McNabb is expected to return this week from the thumb and ankle injuries that have caused him to miss two straight games. Coach Andy Reid said McNabb can grip the football well now but might wear a brace on his hand to protect the thumb. The bigger concern is his mobility with the ankle, but Reid said McNabb moved around better in practice last week. Nonetheless, he held McNabb out of Sunday's contest because he did not feel he was ready to go from a health standpoint, and the extra rest no doubt has helped the quarterback. Barring a setback in practice this week, expect McNabb to get the green light Sunday.

Marc Bulger, Rams: According to a report by ESPN's Len Pasquarelli, Bulger underwent another battery of tests Tuesday as a follow-up to his concussion a week ago and was cleared to return to practice Wednesday. The Rams are optimistic that Bulger will be available Sunday, but it should be noted that he will be monitored throughout the week to ensure his symptoms do not return as his practice activity increases. Bulger's replacement, Gus Frerotte, suffered a shoulder injury Sunday that might keep him out for at least one game. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Frerotte has a sprained shoulder and a partial tear of the labrum, the ring of cartilage that helps reinforce the shoulder joint. Frerotte injured the shoulder in the third quarter of Sunday's contest but was able to return to finish the game; however, the shoulder was much more sore the next day, prompting the additional tests. If neither Bulger or Frerotte is able to go, it could be Brock Berlin. Fantasy owners, keep your fingers crossed that practice agrees with Bulger.

Brodie Croyle, Chiefs: Croyle sat out last week's contest with a sore bruised back but could make his return Sunday if, as coach Herm Edwards said on the Chiefs' Web site, he's "mobile enough to get out of the way." Edwards also said that although the Chiefs would like to see Croyle back in the lineup, the team will not risk putting him in there if he is not fully recovered. Croyle is expected to return to practice Wednesday, and his progress, particularly his mobility, will be evaluated throughout the week.

Alex D. Smith, 49ers: Smith has sat out the 49ers' past two games because of lingering pain in his shoulder (a Grade III, or complete, separation) and his forearm (tendinitis, which developed after he injured the shoulder, possibly while trying to rehabilitate the arm). Smith might yet face shoulder surgery, but before that decision is made, Smith will try to throw this week, according to ESPN's Len Pasquarelli. Smith will see how the arm feels while throwing and then will consult with the medical staff to evaluate his status. Either way, he is not a factor for the remainder of the fantasy season (not that he was much of a factor beforehand). His progress will be relevant for next year, so we will monitor him with that in mind.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Roy Williams, Lions: Williams sprained his posterior cruciate ligament Sunday and, according to a report in the Detroit News, is expected to miss the last four games of the season. ESPN's John Clayton is reporting that the Lions do not plan to put Williams on season-ending injured reserve in the hope that he can heal quickly, but it is a slim hope. This is an injury similar to the one that kept Broncos running back Travis Henry out four weeks and Texans receiver Andre Johnson out eight weeks. Coach Rod Marinelli said the ligament is not torn, usually a reference to the ligament not being completely torn, since any sprain reflects some degree of injury to the tissue, even if microscopic. The timeframe will depend on how long it takes any swelling and pain to subside, and the amount of tissue healing that needs to take place. Williams then would need to regain his strength and mobility, as well as the confidence that his knee is stable enough to support him running, cutting and jumping. That is a lot to ask in less than four weeks. Nonetheless, if the injury is minor, there is a chance he could return, but it is a small one. If Williams is on your fantasy roster, you need to find a replacement that you can count on for the duration of the season.

Santonio Holmes, Steelers: Holmes, who missed the past three games with a high ankle sprain, could return in Week 14, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Coach Mike Tomlin said "it depends on how [he] perform[s] in practice." Even mild high-ankle sprains often require about four weeks before a player can return, so Holmes is just now coming up on that mark. Practice will resume Wednesday, meaning we won't have a real indicator as to whether Holmes is likely to play until late in the week. Stay tuned.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back later in the week when we check further Week 14 updates. We also will quickly touch on any Thursday game injuries at that time.

Ward unlikely to return

December, 3, 2007

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: Schaub dislocated his left shoulder Sunday when he was sacked by Antwan Odom, and anyone could see he was in a good deal of pain. It is his non-throwing shoulder, which is clearly not as serious for a quarterback, particularly in the long term, as it would be if it were his throwing shoulder. Keep in mind, however, that between pain and limited mobility in the left arm, this injury could affect his ball handling on snaps and handoffs, as well as his ability to take hits. The big concern is the risk of re-injury once the tissue has been stretched to this degree. People can suffer a one-time traumatic dislocation to the shoulder and go on to have no further problems. But, if Schaub returns before the tissue is adequately healed and before the muscles around the shoulder can protect it, and then he takes another big hit, it could adversely affect his entire prognosis. According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, coach Gary Kubiak said there is "a little hope" that it is not season ending. Schaub will be evaluated further early this week, and then we should get a better idea as to his timetable. Expect Sage Rosenfels to start in his place for at least this week, more likely two. Consider the possibility that he could be out for the rest of the season when finding a replacement quarterback for your fantasy playoffs.

Derrick Ward, RB, Giants: What is it with the Giants' running backs? They seem to be on an injury carousel. Just when one gets knocked out of the lineup, the other returns, only to switch places yet again. Ward looked outstanding in his return from ankle and groin ailments that had caused him to miss several weeks. Unfortunately, he was not able to last the entire game without suffering yet another injury. The New York Daily News reported that Ward had fractured his left fibula, the skinny bone on the outer leg. Although the Giants aren't saying it officially, it appears unlikely he'll return this season. A broken bone typically takes six weeks to fully heal, sometimes less if it is a hairline crack. Either way, Ward would likely be immobilized first to protect the healing bone, but the immobilization often results in a stiff ankle. Ward will have to get the range of motion and strength back in his ankle before he can return to the field. If you do the math, there doesn't appear to be enough time in the regular season for all of this to happen. Ward indicated that his injury was not as severe as the one suffered by teammate linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, who broke his left fibula two weeks ago. Kiwanuka required surgery to implant hardware to stabilize his fracture, meaning the fracture was likely displaced, where the bones are out of alignment and surgery is necessary to help ensure proper healing. Many fibular fractures, however, are clean breaks, or cracks, where the ends stay in good alignment and will heal together during a period of immobilization without surgery. In that scenario, Ward's injury would be less severe than Kiwanuka's, but it would not eliminate the time required for the bone to heal. Ward's teammate Brandon Jacobs, still nursing his sore hamstring, was out Sunday but could return this week depending how he fares in practice. The question will then be, "Can Jacobs last the remainder of the season?"

Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals: Boldin dislocated a toe, according to a report in The Arizona Republic. That is the injury being reported, but I also saw Boldin take a hard fall on his right hip, the one that caused him to miss several weeks earlier in the year. He appeared to be wincing, so there is a possibility that he may have aggravated the hip, as well. The injuries to Boldin are definitely a concern given that Larry Fitzgerald sat out Sunday's game with a groin injury of his own. The good news is that Fitzgerald's injury appears to be minor, and he has been practicing on a limited basis. We'll keep an eye on the status of both players, but don't be surprised if Boldin sits out Sunday, while Fitzgerald could return.

LenDale White, RB, Titans: White dislocated his middle finger on his right hand and needed stitches in the locker room, according to an Associated Press report. Although it's not a serious injury in terms of missing time, it could become a factor handling the ball if the finger is swollen and painful. White has had some fumbling problems in the past, so it is something to consider if he returns this week.

Roy Williams, WR, Lions: is reporting that the injury to Williams is a sprained right knee, but no further specifics were given by coach Rod Marinelli as to the severity or which ligaments were involved. Williams did attempt to return to play for a series after sustaining the injury, but the knee did not cooperate, and he was forced to leave the game. The fact that he actually could be on the field for a series suggests that the injury is not severe, but of course we will learn more as the Lions go through practice this week.

That's a quick hit for Monday. Be sure to check back throughout the week as further information becomes available and we update these and other injuries.

The tragic death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor has cast a pall over the NFL this week, as the Taylor family, the Redskins family and the NFL family at large grieve together. In the spirit of the saying, "the show must go on" the Redskins will put forth their best effort this weekend, no doubt with heavy hearts. We offer our condolences to everyone affected by this sad event as we look toward Week 13.

Here are some of the injuries fantasy owners should be aware of early this week. Keep in mind the Thursday matchup between Green Bay and host Dallas.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: It appears that Peterson will make his eagerly anticipated return this week from a torn lateral collateral ligament. Peterson has been working his way back, gradually increasing his activity over the last week to the point where he even tested the leg in pregame warm-ups this past Sunday. The team decided Peterson was not quite ready to join the fray, but the fact that he looked so good only two weeks post-injury, combined with the additional week of practice, makes his return all the more likely this Sunday. This would still be a relatively speedy comeback from a Grade II (plus) ligament tear, but the Vikings have no doubt taken all the risks of reinjury into account and weighed those against the progress of their young superstar to determine his readiness to play. Additionally, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, Peterson had a repeat MRI to assess the LCL, and according to coach Brad Childress it showed "excellent healing" of the ligament. If Peterson does indeed return Sunday, he will be wearing a brace to provide some additional lateral joint reinforcement for the knee. Childress went on to point out that Peterson would be eased back into the rotation as a component of returning him to game-level conditioning. As the week goes on, we should have a better idea of whether Peterson will play for sure, and how much he'll be utilized.

Ricky Williams and Jesse Chatman, Dolphins: Well, the Ricky Williams 2007 chapter ended almost as soon as it began. Williams was stepped on while he was prone on the ground following a fumble during Monday night's game, which resulted in a torn pectoral (chest) muscle, according to the Palm Beach Post. It appeared that the cleat of Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons landed on Williams' right scapula (shoulder blade), which sits atop the rib cage. To make matters worse, Williams was actually propped on his right elbow, putting a stretch on the pectoral muscles and making them more at risk for injury should someone happen to, say, come down hard on the back of the ribs. The force of Timmons' leg pushed the scapula, and therefore the ribs, forward, placing a sudden harsh stretch on the anterior ribs where the chest muscles attach. Torn muscles need approximately six to eight weeks of rest to allow the primary tissue to heal, clearly putting an end to Williams' 2007 season. Williams' arm will be in a sling for that period of time to minimize any stretching on the muscle during the healing. He will then need to undergo physical therapy to get his range of motion and strength back in the chest, shoulder and arm. The total recovery time could be as long as five to six months. I guess we'll be waiting until 2008 to see the real return of Williams. Meanwhile, Chatman entered Monday night's contest with an ankle injury that had him operating at less than 100 percent, and it showed as he struggled during the game. Chatman then sustained a neck injury in the third quarter on a tough collision which forced him out of the game. His return for this week is questionable. The Dolphins have indicated that Samkon Gado, re-signed after Williams' injury, would get the start this Sunday if Chatman is unable to go. We will keep an eye on practice reports throughout the week to see how this is shaping up.

Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, Giants: Apparently, Jacobs is getting an introduction to the slow-healing nature of hamstring injuries. Jacobs, who said that until now he had never suffered a hamstring injury, did not initially think the injury was serious. Nonetheless, it has already caused him to miss one week, and he looks to be on track to miss another. According to the (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, Jacobs has not yet been cleared to practice. Last week, I said count on two to four weeks, because even minor hamstring injuries can cause significant limitations. That still looks like a reasonable timetable for Jacobs. Teammate Derrick Ward has been dealing with an ongoing ankle problem, and more recently, a groin injury. Ward, who also missed Sunday's game, may be able to return to full practice for the first time in weeks. As the week goes on, we should have a better idea of who will start at running back for the Giants. At this point it looks more like Reuben Droughns or Ward, less like Jacobs.

Ahman Green, Texans: The Texans indicated that Green could make a return this week, according to their official Web site. It is reasonable to be skeptical. Green has been struggling with ongoing knee swelling and has not been able to make it on the field. The Texans are keeping a spot for him, but your fantasy team should not. Even if he does return, it is likely to be in a very limited fashion, with Ron Dayne still seeing the majority of the work.

Selvin Young, Travis Henry, Andre Hall, Broncos: Henry has yet to hear the official word regarding his appeal, and while he waits, his knee recovers. It looks as if Henry will be available to the Broncos in Week 13, and according to the Denver Post, Henry (partially torn PCL) thinks he will "definitely" be well enough to play. Young is expected to try to play as he recovers from his own knee injury. Meanwhile, Hall, who stepped in when Henry and Young were both out, suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday (although he did continue to play after the injury, suggesting it is on the mild side) and his status is uncertain. The practice reports will definitely be key in Denver this week to see how this running back situation is shaping up.

Larry Johnson, Chiefs: Coach Herm Edwards told the Kansas City Star that Johnson is still rehabilitating his foot and is not expected to play this week. This is not a surprise, but it does confirm what we already suspected. Expect that to continue for at least two more weeks.

Cedric Benson, Bears: Benson did indeed suffer a season-ending injury last week, an injury that will require surgery to repair. Benson broke his leg (the fibula; the skinny bone on the outer aspect) above the ankle. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, he will undergo surgery to have hardware installed (a plate and screws) to stabilize the fracture. He will then face a lengthy rehab primarily directed at getting his ankle mobility back (which he loses while his ankle is immobilized during the fracture healing process). After getting his range of motion back, Benson will need to regain his strength and conditioning, and ultimately his directional movement. It is a lengthy rehab process, but one that should have him ready for next season. Unfortunately for Benson, he was just starting to make some gains in his ground game when the injury occurred. This latest setback certainly does not help. In Benson's absence, it appears that Adrian Peterson will become the starting running back in Chicago.


Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay: Garcia injured his back during Sunday's game and exited for a period of time. He returned in the fourth quarter, but his mobility and effectiveness were limited by his sore back. Nursing what the Tampa Tribune is calling a deep lower back bruise, Garcia said Tuesday that he could barely even throw the ball. This may be soreness and stiffness talking, and he may be able to work that out before Sunday. Garcia is tough and he's a gamer, so we can expect that he will try his best to make it back to face the Saints. If he is unable to increase his activity over the next few days, he will be sidelined. In that case, it appears, according to the St. Petersburg Times, that Luke McCown is in line to get the start, not Bruce Gradkowski. Fantasy owners should make preparations in the event that Garcia is not able to play. We will, of course, update his status later in the week.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles: McNabb sat out Sunday night's game with a sprained ankle and a jammed thumb. He may be sitting out again. McNabb will be evaluated as practice goes on throughout the week to see if the ankle and thumb continue to limit him. Coach Andy Reid, according to an Associated Press report, said he wants to have McNabb at 100 percent before he puts him back out on the field. A.J. Feeley, coming off a very decent performance against the New England Patriots, could see another start if McNabb can't operate at 100 percent.

Marc Bulger, Rams: Bulger says that he feels better now than he did on Sunday, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He acknowledged the seriousness of any head injury and says he will await the results of follow-up tests with team doctors but does expect to play Sunday. We will see if Bulger is able to practice as the week goes on.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Patrick Crayton, Cowboys: Crayton sat out the Thanksgiving Day game because of a left ankle sprain that he sustained the Sunday before. Crayton told the Cowboys' official Web site on Monday that he is "good to go" and expects to play Thursday against the Packers. It does not appear that he will be hampered by the ankle.

Javon Walker, Broncos: Walker saw limited action in his Week 12 return to the Broncos. Not to worry, though. Coach Mike Shanahan says Walker will be integrated more into the offense in Week 13, according to the Broncos' official Web site. It is not unreasonable that Walker was kept to some restricted activity in his return, especially since he had developed some minor swelling earlier in the week, and the field conditions on his return were less than optimal. Walker could have a nice performance this Sunday.

D.J. Hackett, Seahawks: Coach Mike Holmgren confirmed to the Tacoma News-Tribune that Hackett had aggravated his previously injured ankle. He indicated that Hackett is expected to miss at least two games. The extent of this injury is unclear, but keep in mind that Hackett missed six games earlier this season with the initial injury. This latest projection sounds as if it was a minor setback, but again, given the area of the ankle, it is best to take a conservative approach. Although Hackett could conceivably make it back by Week 15, he could also very easily be held back if the ankle is at all tentative. It's probably best to find a fantasy alternative with the expectation that Hackett may not be available in time to help your team.

Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, Packers: Although neither receiver was in pads in Monday's practice, both are expected to suit up against the Cowboys. Both receivers participated in some team drills, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, and it appears that both will be in fine shape for Thursday's game.

Marvin Harrison, Colts: It's speculation time again. There is some buzz that Harrison will return to the field this week, after missing what seems like an eternity with ongoing inflammation related to a bursa in his knee, all resulting from a hard fall on the turf. The bottom line is that this remains a day-to-day situation, and until Harrison really tests the knee in practice (which then will tell us whether he has pain, more inflammation, or both in response to such tests), it is hard to project whether he will, in fact, play. Remember, coach Tony Dungy was quoted more than once as saying he really expected Harrison would play (and I believe he meant what he said), but then Harrison's knee would not cooperate and he wound up unavailable on game day. Frustrating as it is for fantasy owners, imagine how Harrison feels. He does not want to be sitting on the sidelines here. This has really become a strategic management issue and the Colts' goal is to try to keep Harrison healthy for as long and as late in the season as they can. With that in mind, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and know that we will update you later in the week as the situation develops.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back later in the week when we check further Week 13 updates. We will also quickly touch on any Thursday game injuries at that time.

Key Seahawks options hurting

November, 24, 2007
This has been an unusual week because of the Thursday games and the Thanksgiving holiday. I posted plenty of updates in my late Friday blog, so today I'll keep the conversation brief, looking only at those players who did not appear in Friday's report.


The following players have been added to the list as officially out for Week 12.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Shaun Alexander, RB, Seahawks: We already knew he wouldn't play; now it's official.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Zach Thomas, LB, Dolphins: The lingering migraines continue.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers: It wasn't looking good anyway. Now you know that <a href="javascript:newWin('')">Nate Washington is starting in his place. In fact, you might want to go and get him.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers: The Steelers' defense takes a hit because of Polamalu's knee injury.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">James Thrash, WR, Redskins: He'll miss because of an ankle injury. Moss and Randle El will handle the load.

Whether the following players suit up for Week 12 is still unknown.

Running Backs

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Fred Taylor, Jaguars: Taylor is listed as probable, meaning he is virtually certain to play. He is on the injury report because of a thigh injury that kept him limited in practice early in the week, but he was able to practice fully on Friday.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Derrick Ward, Giants: I discussed his injuries Friday, but that was when he appeared to be a game-time decision. Since then, Ward has been downgraded to doubtful, meaning he has less than a 25 percent chance of playing. Go Reuben, go.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">DeShaun Foster, Panthers: Not a big source of worry here. Foster has been bothered by a toe injury for several weeks. He did not practice Wednesday to give the toe a rest but was back in practice Thursday and Friday to finish the week strong. He is listed as probable and is expected to start.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Frank Gore, 49ers: The biggest worry when it comes to Gore right now is the offense he plays in, not any injury. Sure, Gore's ankle has not been 100 percent since he sprained it several weeks ago, but that is not the main reason for his lack of production. Nonetheless, the ankle is the reason he appears in this report. He was limited in practice early in the week to avoid aggravating the ankle, but he did practice fully Friday and is listed as probable. He will start again for the 49ers on Sunday.


<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Alex Smith, 49ers: He is listed as questionable, but we shouldn't expect him to do much. Smith is still resting his shoulder and forearm and will be re-evaluated in the coming week.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks: Hasselbeck has bruised ribs, reportedly from the Week 11 game. He was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday but was able to participate fully on Friday, taking most of the first-team snaps. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Hasselbeck said he feels "as close to 100 percent as [he has] felt in a long time." Although he is listed as questionable, he is expected to start against the Rams, and it does not appear that he will be limited.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

D.J. Hackett, Seahawks: Hackett, who missed several weeks because of a high ankle sprain but managed to return looking fantastic, now has a new injury issue: He is listed as questionable because of swelling in his knee. After resting the knee Wednesday and Thursday, Hackett was able to participate fully on Friday and reportedly looked sharp while running, although he was wearing a wrap, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. All signs point to his playing against the Rams, but be sure to check the inactive reports Sunday.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Bernard Berrian, Bears: Berrian has a toe that is bothering him, but it does not appear that it will keep him from playing Sunday. Berrian is listed as probable after being able to practice fully on Friday, and he should start Sunday.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Plaxico Burress, Giants: Burress' ankle has bothered him more of late, and it is possible that it is affecting his overall productivity. The Giants continue to do their best to manage his condition by keeping him out of practice all week to save him for Sunday. His designation is questionable, so it is always important to check his status before game time. But he is expected to start. Although the past few weeks have been unremarkable for Burress, he remains one of Eli Manning's top receiving targets and always has the potential to have a big day. He also has the potential to aggravate the ankle and leave early. Risk, meet reward.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Santana Moss and <a href="javascript:newWin('')">Antwaan Randle El, Redskins: Moss (probable) still has a bruised heel, but the modified shoe with a heel cup insert seemed to help Moss in Week 11. He was allowed to rest the foot early in the week but was a full participant in practice Friday and will be ready to go Sunday. Randle El (also probable) is on this week's report because of a chest injury (no specifics given), but he practiced fully on Thursday and Friday and is expected to play.

Defensive players

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Tommie Harris, DT, and <a href="javascript:newWin('')">Nathan Vasher, CB, Bears: Harris did not practice Wednesday or Friday (he did only limited work Thursday) because he continues to battle a sore knee, but according to the Bears' official Web site, coach Lovie Smith said Harris "should be able to go." The news is not so good for Vasher, who has been hampered by a groin injury for weeks now. Vasher, officially listed as doubtful, is likely to miss his eighth straight game. We saw with <a href="javascript:newWin('')">Steven Jackson how nagging these groin injuries can be, and when your position requires significant speed and directional running, a groin injury can be particularly challenging. Vasher admits that the injury is frustrating and hopes he can return relatively soon.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Chris McAlister, and <a href="javascript:newWin('')">Samari Rolle, CBs, Ravens: Rolle has been on the Ravens' injury report for weeks now with a previously undisclosed illness, but Rolle announced this week that he has epilepsy. Rolle decided to speak publicly about it now that he has the condition under control, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun. Rolle has had three significant seizures since the start of the season, and the medications he was prescribed took their toll in side effects. Now Rolle seems to have struck a balance with the proper medication and has been gradually resuming his practice activity. His teammates, meanwhile, are reportedly thrilled to have him healthy and back on the field with them. Rolle is listed as probable and could see action Sunday. His teammate, McAlister, is not faring as well for Week 12, though. After returning to action in Week 11, McAlister's knee has been sore, and he has not practiced all week. He is listed as questionable and could play, but it will come down to a game-time decision.

<a href="javascript:newWin('')">Dwight Freeney, Colts: I put Freeney last on the list so that those of you who are not interested in reading about a player who has already been placed on injured reserve can stop reading now. However, for those of you who are curious about these "Lisfranc" injuries, read on.

Freeney underwent surgery on his foot after suffering a Lisfranc injury during Week 10. The term has become familiar enough that many now call it the "dreaded" Lisfranc injury, as it can be quite serious, even career-ending, if not managed well.

So what is this thing they call a Lisfranc injury? There is a region in the middle of the foot where the long bones of the forefoot (metatarsals) articulate with the small tarsal bones in the middle of the foot. This joint, for obvious reasons, is thus called the tarsometatarsal joint. It is also referred to as the Lisfranc joint. Why? Frenchman Jacques Lisfranc, a field surgeon in Napoleon's army, described an amputation technique through this region to address forefoot gangrene following frostbite. There is also the story that soldiers wounded in battle would fall from their horses, but a foot would often remain caught in the stirrup, right at that tarsometatarsal joint. Such an injury often resulted in amputation of part of the foot, from the injured joint forward. In fact, amputation to that region still bears the same name (although NFL players don't need part of their foot amputated when they suffer Lisfranc injuries).

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

Are all Lisfranc injuries the same? No. In fact, the name Lisfranc refers to the region of the foot, not necessarily the severity of the injury. By virtue of its important location (the midfoot essentially forms the arch), any injury to this region needs to be taken seriously. That said, not all Lisfranc injuries are created equal. When the midfoot buckles, the ligaments that connect the various bones can become damaged. Ligament injury without any bony impact would be the mildest version of a Lisfranc injury. The problem is that damage to the ligaments can affect the relative position of the bones in the area, and they can shift or dislocate, which is often accompanied by a fracture. Now it's getting more serious. In the worst-case scenario, an artery passing over that area can also be damaged, affecting blood supply to the foot. A shift of the bony alignment typically requires surgery to realign the joint and provide stability. Failure to do so can result in chronic instability and pain, eventually leading to major arthritis in the area. Even with surgery, it appears that people who have suffered a significant Lisfranc injury are more at risk for arthritis down the road, simply because of the trauma to the joint. The bottom line is that players who suffer these injuries must have their treatment managed carefully, not only with surgery, but in the postsurgical rehabilitation process as well. We have seen evidence of this with Lions running back <a href="javascript:newWin('')">Kevin Jones, whose activity has been carefully monitored across the season, based on how his foot is feeling.

Good luck to everyone this week! Be sure to check our inactive reports leading up to game time here at

Brandon Jacobs out again

November, 23, 2007

OUT: The following players have been listed as officially out for Week 12 Sunday games.

Steve McNair, QB, Ravens: McNair's left shoulder still is listed as the official reason for him sitting out.

Demetrius Williams, WR, Ravens: An ankle injury will keep Williams out of the lineup this week.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: We detailed what we know about his injury on Wednesday. You can expect to see him on this list for a while longer.

Ahman Green, RB, Texans: As expected, Green did not practice this week and is not expected to play, according to the Houston Chronicle. Ron Dayne likely will get the start again for the Texans.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: Lynch has not practiced all week and has been ruled out for this Sunday's game. To make matters worse, the Bills' Web site reports that Lynch has a high ankle sprain. Originally reported as an ankle sprain, Lynch's injury immediately becomes more serious because of the location. High ankle sprains, as we have reported many times, generally are more difficult to recover from and can be easily aggravated if a player returns too soon (see Michael Pittman). We will check back in on Lynch next week. Until he begins to test the ankle in practice, it will be difficult to project his timetable. Anthony Thomas will get the start in Lynch's place.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Jacobs is out with a hamstring injury (more information below).

Travis Henry, RB, Broncos: Henry continues to struggle with his left knee (PCL sprain) and did not practice all week. Keep an eye on him as he could return in Week 13, contingent on his knee healing enough and him winning his appeal.

Here's what we know so far about other players with injury concerns heading into Sunday.

Running Backs

Selvin Young, Broncos: Young, who injured his knee in Monday night's game (no specifics given by the team), did not practice until Friday, when he did limited work. According to the Broncos' Web site, Young will test his leg before the game (late start Sunday) to see if he will be able to play. Andre Hall will get the start if Young cannot go Sunday.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Peterson (torn LCL) has taken part in very limited practice this week, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, wearing a knee brace all the while. Although he has not been officially ruled out, do not expect him to play this weekend, despite the upgrade to questionable. It sounds as if the Vikings are suggesting he could return very soon, but again, I believe he really needs to show he can do everything in practice before the Vikings risk putting him back on the field (see Wednesday blog).

Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, Giants: Jacobs missed practice all week with a sore hamstring and is out for Sunday. According to a report in Newsday, Jacobs and coach Tom Coughlin gave the impression earlier in the week that Jacobs would miss Sunday's game. The major concern, as it always is with a hamstring injury, is that it could get worse and end up costing Jacobs more missed time overall. With other capable backs in the wings, the Giants are smart to play it cautious. But then there's Ward, who also is currently hampered by lingering injuries. Ward has been dealing with an ankle sprain, which reportedly is much improved, and a groin strain, which he sounds less confident about. Ward's comment -- "You never know. It might regress, it might progress" -- does not exactly evoke optimism. Ward has been a limited participant in practice, and his status may well come down to a game-time decision. Reuben Droughns looks to get the start Sunday, and the Giants' Web site quotes Coughlin as saying that Ahmad Bradshaw is the No. 2.

Reggie Bush, Saints: Bush was limited in practice all week with a shin bruise, but coach Sean Payton is hopeful that Bush can play Sunday, according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He will be a game-time decision.

Shaun Alexander, Seahawks: Insert last week's report here. Alexander has not practiced, and if he does not practice, he does not play, according to coach Mike Holmgren. The Tacoma News Tribune reported that Alexander also is trying to get rid of the cast. Apparently that is not going to happen, but the medical staff is trying to find a way to make the cast smaller. Once again, expect Maurice Morris to start in Alexander's place.

Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham, Buccaneers: Pittman, who worked so hard to get back to the playing field, re-injured his still-healing high ankle sprain, perhaps seriously, and is out indefinitely. There has been some speculation that Pittman could be put on injured reserve, but that does not appear to have been decided yet. According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, Pittman's swelling is severe, but the athletic training staff expects him to make a return in a few weeks. Meanwhile, Graham still is nursing a sore ankle and has been limited in practice this week, but he is expected to play.

Jesse Chatman, Dolphins: The Dolphins most certainly don't need this. Chatman has an ankle problem that limited him in practice the whole week. The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reported Chatman still is limping, which does not help his chances to play Monday night. Granted, there are a few days before the game, but if Chatman is limping now, he will not be at his best come Monday. Could this signal the return of Ricky Williams? It more likely signals some increased action for Patrick Cobbs at this point, but stay tuned to this scenario, because if Chatman's ankle problem lingers, there might be a new starting running back in Miami right around the time of fantasy playoffs.


Donovan McNabb, Eagles: McNabb has two problems that kept him out of practice all week: a sprained ankle and a jammed thumb. Coach Andy Reid told the Associated Press that McNabb "has gotten a little better each day." Neither of these injuries appears particularly serious, but they could be just bad enough to either keep McNabb from starting Sunday night, which appears more likely, or keep him from performing effectively if he does play. Either way, with the game being on Sunday night, and the opponent being the Patriots, this probably is one for fantasy owners to avoid.

Receivers/Tight Ends

Santonio Holmes, Steelers: Holmes is recovering from a high ankle sprain and remains doubtful for Monday's game.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals: Houshmandzadeh participated in full practice Friday after resting earlier in the week with a bruised back. He is listed as probable and is expected to play. Houshmandzadeh still is feeling soreness in his back and told the Bengals' Web site that if he can't tolerate the pain, he won't play. Given that comment, be sure to check his status before game time, but with the probable designation, it does appear he will be active.

Javon Walker, Broncos: Walker had good practice sessions this week and is looking like he will return Sunday. Walker has made nice, steady progress, and although he is reported to have had some swelling after Thursday's practice, he expects to play, according to the Broncos' Web site. His status is questionable, so be sure to check Sunday's inactive reports before the game.

Reggie Williams, Jaguars: Williams is a late addition to the injury reports with a back problem. He is listed as questionable after being limited in practice Friday. If you have him on your roster, be sure to check before game time.

Todd Heap, Ravens: Hopefully you have found a fantasy replacement for Todd Heap by now. He is listed as doubtful again this week because of the lingering problems with his hamstring. Despite his efforts to return, the hamstring has not cooperated, and there is no telling when his leg will be healthy enough to allow him to come back.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back this weekend when we have the latest practice reports before the games, as well as a few IDP additions.