- Stephania Bell, Fantasy Sports
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Last week we had the pleasure of three games on Thanksgiving, so having only one Thursday game in Week 13 feels like a bit of withdrawal. The upside? A few more days for some ailing players to get themselves a little healthier.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning played last Thursday and we later discovered that he is dealing with yet another issue in his right foot, a stress reaction in one of his midfoot bones to be exact. Since the best treatment is indeed rest, 10 days off could be viewed only as a good thing. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw got a few extra days to rest his newly sprained left ankle, not to mention the fracture in his right foot, which at least gives him a better shot of playing this Sunday. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was visibly uncomfortable while trying to play through his separated (nonthrowing) shoulder last Thursday, so some additional downtime benefited him. It also helped his primary target, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who told The Detroit News that it was "big for me just being able to get home and get my feet up," allowing his sore knee to rest. Over in Dallas, quarterback Tony Romo had a few more days to quiet his sore back and tight end Jason Witten's foot was given some additional recovery time as well.
So how concerned should fantasy owners be about the health of their roster heading into Week 13? Here's what we know so far ...
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: On Tuesday, I outlined the information we have so far on the status of Ryan's big toe injury. The fact that he did not have surgery and is receiving treatment suggests that the team is hopeful that he could return. The Falcons indicate that they will provide a status update next week. In the meantime, Ryan is definitely out for Week 13, so adjust your roster accordingly.
Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals: Warner was inactive Sunday after lingering visual disturbances caused him enough uneasiness to report the symptoms and elect not to play. First, Warner should be applauded for making a difficult but correct decision. The more players are forthcoming about these types of symptoms following head injury, the more acceptance there will eventually be about respecting the significance of these injuries and the potential consequences of returning too soon.
Warner also paid a visit to an ophthalmologist, a physician who specializes in eye care, for further evaluation. According to the Cardinals' official Web site, everything was "fine" with Warner's eyes. He reported feeling better and returned to practice but split first-team reps with teammate Matt Leinart. Consider Warner's status day-to-day and recognize that the decision to play might be a game-time one, and with the game not being played until Sunday night, it'll be tough to use him in your lineup.
Eli Manning, New York Giants: On Tuesday I outlined the new challenge for Manning and his injured right foot. As expected, Manning continues to be a full participant in practice and is preparing to face the Dallas Cowboys Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger is expected to be under center for the Steelers this week when they face the Oakland Raiders. He returned to a full practice Wednesday and unless he experiences a setback, such as another bout of exercise-induced headache, he will be the starter.
Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers: In what seemed a foregone conclusion at the start of the week, ESPN reports that Matt Moore is expected to start for the Panthers on Sunday in place of Delhomme. Delhomme suffered a broken finger on his throwing hand in last week's contest, which made the decision to replace him easier for coach John Fox. The Rock Hill Herald reports that Delhomme was on the sidelines at practice with his index and middle fingers taped together, a common form of splinting to immobilize the injured finger. It suggests that the break is small and nondisplaced, and that surgery was not required. Nonetheless, the bone has to heal and then he will need to regain adequate range of motion and strength in the finger to throw the ball effectively. Since effectively throwing the ball was a bit challenging for Delhomme before the break, it's not clear just how long this will sideline him.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook has already been ruled out for Week 13. He continues to be evaluated following his second concussion of the season and to that end, traveled to Pittsburgh this week to visit again with experts in the field. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, coach Andy Reid said that the specialists in Pittsburgh would like to "check him again in a week or two." Reid also said that Westbrook experienced "a slight headache" after a workout last Friday. It sounds as if he will not return before Week 15, and in the meantime, his response to exercise will continue to be monitored closely. LeSean McCoy will continue to be the primary back for the time being.
Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins: Portis has already been ruled out for Week 13 and is scheduled to return to Pittsburgh next Monday for follow-up evaluation related to the concussion he suffered in Week 9.
Portis appeared on John Thompson's radio show on ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C., and provided some insightful commentary as to how he's evaluating his post-concussion situation. Portis said, "I would love to be on the field trying to get out there and finish out the season. At the same time, I have to do what's safe and what's best. If I'm cleared and can get back out there for the last few games, I'm definitely going to try and get back out there. If I can't, I'll go into the offseason healthy and starting off fresh next year." It's refreshing to hear players candidly discuss their consideration of the big picture when it comes to such injuries.
It's worth remembering that Portis struggled with other injuries earlier in the season, specifically bone spurs in both ankles and a strained calf muscle. The rest he has had so far has no doubt allowed his muscles and joints some measure of recovery, but if his season was to end early, his almost-30-year-old body would not likely complain. While it is too soon to say whether Portis will or won't return this season, fantasy owners should prepare for the possibility that he may not. With Ladell Betts on injured reserve, Rock Cartwright continues to get the start in Washington.
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons: Turner did not practice Wednesday or Thursday as he continues to rehabilitate his injured right ankle, which suffered a setback in Week 12. While the Falcons have not yet ruled him out, it seems as if the prudent choice would be to rest him in Week 13. He may be a game-time decision again this week, but unless we see more from him in practice by the end of the week, fantasy owners should be very wary. Meanwhile, Jerious Norwood is off the injury report this week.
Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott, Cincinnati Bengals: Just a reminder, folks. Coach Marvin Lewis has already announced that Benson, who missed the past two games with a hip injury, will start in Week 13. Based on Lewis' comments heading into Week 12, fantasy owners should feel confident about Benson's health. Scott, who suffered a turf toe injury Sunday and has not practiced, appears unlikely to play. That would make Benson the primary back to face the Detroit Lions with Larry Johnson as the likely No. 2.
Julius Jones, Seattle Seahawks: Jones returned to full practice Wednesday, making it appear more likely that he will be able to play this weekend. Jones suffered a bruised lung and rib in Week 10 and sat out the past two games due to lingering chest pain. Coach Jim Mora has maintained that Jones remains the starter when healthy but has also acknowledged the excellent performance of Justin Forsett in Jones' absence. Jones is not yet a sure thing by any means. He will need to show no ill effects through a week of practice and will have to convince the Seahawks that he not only has sufficient cardiovascular endurance to play in a game, but also that he can withstand contact. We should have a better clue by Saturday.
Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware, New York Giants: Ware is already ruled out for Week 13 following a concussion sustained in last week's game. Ware was providing some backup for Brandon Jacobs as Bradshaw sat out with a sprained left ankle (to go with his fractured right foot). Although Bradshaw did not practice Wednesday, he did do some running on Thursday. Apparently, it was enough to at least provide some encouragement that Bradshaw could be available Sunday, according to The Star-Ledger. Bradshaw has proved that he can play through discomfort as he has been functioning much of the season with a chronic right ankle injury and a fractured fifth metatarsal (forefoot bone) on his right foot. Having a still-healing sprain on his other ankle may make it tougher however for him to be effective, especially since his style of running involves sharp cuts and directional movements. It seems likely that Jacobs would handle the majority of the work with a sprinkling of Bradshaw if he can go.
Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints: Bush did not play Monday night, his second straight missed game with an ailing knee. He did tell The Times-Picayune on Wednesday that he thought he could have played but that it was a decision made between the medical staff and the coaches. According to Bush, their feeling was "let's rest him for one more game and allow him to be 100 percent for next week." So will he be 100 percent in Week 13? That remains to be seen, but the extended rest certainly bodes well for his availability. Bush was listed as a limited participant in a projected Wednesday injury report, so we will need to see what he actually does in the latter part of the week.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson suffered a concussion in Week 12 and has indicated that he thinks it unlikely that he will be able to play this Sunday. According to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, Jackson simply said, "I don't think I can go. I blacked out." Regardless of whether there was a loss of consciousness or not, Jackson's symptoms and performance on neurological tests will dictate whether playing this week is even an option. Trust Jackson's intuition and expect Jeremy Maclin to see some extra targets.
Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.
See you at the injury chats (Tuesday and Friday, 11:00 a.m.-noon, and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.). And check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!
Stephania Bell provides injury updates on players such as Kurt Warner, Michael Turner, DeSean Jackson and Ben Roethlisberger.