Stephania Bell: Frank Gore

49ers-Rams Thursday injury update

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
1:23
PM ET
It’s an NFC West matchup Thursday night between the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams. Three weeks into the season, both teams stand at 1-2 (as do the Arizona Cardinals) while the Seattle Seahawks are perfect atop the division (3-0).

Injuries certainly can play a part in how this matchup will unfold, not to mention how fantasy owners will view their rosters heading into Week 4.

Here’s a look at where key fantasy players for the 49ers and Rams stand in terms of injuries.

San Francisco 49ers

Frank Gore, RB, knee (probable): Gore has some soreness in his knee, which isn’t unusual. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if the team had lightened his workload early in the week -- especially on a short week --but Gore turned in full practices, according to the team’s injury practice report. He is going to play and is not expected to be limited.

Vernon Davis, TE, hamstring (questionable): Like last week, Davis again will be a game-time decision, but the general consensus is that he has a better chance to play this week, as ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson notes. After injuring his left hamstring in San Francisco’s brutal loss in Seattle, Davis -- who attempted only light running the week before -- was held out of the Week 3 contest. Not only is the risk of re-injury high with any hamstring strain, but it seemed particularly wise to keep Davis on the sideline, given that the 49ers were set to play the Rams just four days later.

So far this week, Davis has participated in practice on a limited basis, but it’s unclear just how much he has pushed the hamstring in those efforts. Regardless, no practice can simulate a game, so it won’t be known until he plays -- and gets through a game without a setback -- whether he has indeed recovered. As usual, Davis will go through pregame warm-ups to test the hamstring and ultimately determine his game status.

Kyle Williams, WR, rib/knee (questionable): Williams practiced on a limited basis this week due to rib and knee injuries. The 49ers are generally vague about injuries, making it difficult to assess whether he is truly in jeopardy of missing the game or getting proactive rest. The rumblings are that Williams is likely to play, but there could be another wrinkle at the receiver position. Earlier in the week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that coach Jim Harbaugh hinted at the possible debut of Jon Baldwin, acquired in August from the Chiefs in a trade for A.J. Jenkins.

Defensive players: The 49ers will be without the pass-rushing skills of Aldon Smith, who is on indefinite leave while seeking treatment for substance abuse. Their defense could be further compromised by the potential absence of linebacker Patrick Willis, who suffered a groin injury in the second half of Sunday’s game against the Colts. Willis did not practice this week, and while the team lists him as questionable, there is a decent chance he will not be able to play.

St. Louis Rams

Daryl Richardson, RB, foot (probable): Richardson’s foot has had him on the injury report since Week 2, and last week it kept him out of virtually the entire game (he exited in the first quarter). However, Richardson put in full practices Tuesday and Wednesday, and made it clear that he expects to play Thursday. Given his “probable” tag, Richardson’s game status does not appear to be in doubt.

The question then becomes what the workload split will be like among Richardson and the Rams’ other backs, most notably Isaiah Pead. Last week, Pead saw more work when Richardson exited the game, but a healthier Richardson doesn’t necessarily clarify the RB picture, as ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner notes. “We’re a running back committee right now,” Pead said. “Daryl is the starter, but whoever gets in there has to answer the call.” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes he “had more spring to his step” this week in practice. Expect Richardson to be on the field as the starter Thursday night.

Chris Givens, WR, knee (probable): The knee issue Givens is dealing with kept him off the practice field Monday but is reported to be not serious. Givens returned to full practice Tuesday (typically the heaviest day before a Thursday game) and did the same Wednesday. With his “probable” tag, he is expected to play.

Defensive players: St. Louis will be without defensive end William Hayes, who injured his knee in last week’s contest (a sprained MCL, according to a Fox Sports report) and has been ruled out of Thursday night’s game.

Jones-Drew leads post-Week 7 injuries

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
11:43
AM ET


Week 7 is in the books! Another week, another player out for the season. On Monday night, the Detroit Lions lost wide receiver Nate Burleson to a broken leg. Burleson landed awkwardly, then went to the ground and immediately clutched his right leg. Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis tore his left Achilles early in Sunday's game, and the team wasted no time reaching out to Chris Cooley to replace him. Cooley was a star tight end for the Redskins not so long ago, before his recent injury issues prompted the team to let him go this summer.



Naturally there are other injury situations worth tracking. Here's who we're keeping an eye on heading into Week 8.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezMaurice Jones-Drew will be out at least for Week 8, and maybe more, with a foot injury.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars (foot): Jones-Drew, the perennial picture of health at a position where players are virtually guaranteed to get injured, finally appeared to succumb to the inevitable. After playing in every game last season, Jones-Drew was forced to leave in Week 7 because of injury and may be out for an extended period. Jones-Drew injured his foot almost immediately in Sunday's game, and although he has not been definitively diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury, coach Mike Mularkey would not rule out the possibility. Jones-Drew was seen on the sideline with crutches for the remainder of the game -- not necessarily unusual immediately following a foot injury. Still, the fact they did not want him putting weight on the foot does suggest a somewhat elevated level of concern.



Jones-Drew already has been ruled out for Sunday's game, and Mularkey noted when he spoke with reporters Monday that he could miss extended time. More information should emerge in the coming days, but fantasy owners should plan on a multiweek absence. Rashad Jennings stepped in to replace Jones-Drew and probably will be one of the most popular guys on the waiver wire this week.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns (rib): Richardson entered Sunday's game with a right-side rib cartilage injury. Although he was able to practice on a limited basis during the week, the injury made itself known early on and Richardson was essentially benched for the second half. According to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, coach Pat Shurmur removed Richardson because he "wasn't quite effective," acknowledging the injury likely played a role. Richardson maintains he does not want to sit out and hopes to play this week. The challenge with damage to the rib cartilage is that the tissue is notoriously slow to heal. Many players who suffer this type of injury are dealing with pain that lingers for weeks, although it gradually subsides with rest. Repeated contact can make it more difficult for the pain to resolve. Typically it comes down to how well a player can function in the presence of pain. Richardson saw that firsthand when he tried to go from limited practice to full speed -- his body was not yet ready to cooperate. We'll see how he responds over the course of the week.

Quarterbacks

Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars (shoulder): Gabbert looked to be in significant pain after hurting his left (non-throwing) shoulder and now we might know why. According to ESPN's Ed Werder, Gabbert reportedly suffered a torn labrum and will get a second opinion Tuesday from Dr. James Andrews. There is no word yet as to whether Gabbert will play Sunday.

And we're keeping an eye on

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints (ankle): Graham did not play Sunday after sustaining an ankle injury in Week 5. The fact that Graham did make it onto the practice field last week is certainly an encouraging sign, and it sounds as if the Saints are optimistic about his progress. According to Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, interim coach Joe Vitt said they would test Graham on Wednesday and that right now they "feel good" about him.



[+] EnlargeGreg Jennings
AP Photo/David StlukaGreg Jennings has just 12 fantasy points in standard leagues this year because of his injuries.
Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings could return to practice at the end of this week, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. First, he will need to test the groin by running, which is slated for Thursday. If all goes well, he could be allowed to progress his activity in practice. These are the logical next steps in what has been a very steady, graded rehab approach for Jennings since aggravating the groin injury earlier this month. Both Jennings and the Packers have said he will not return until he is fully healthy, and it is in both their interests to ensure that to the degree possible. Ultimately, in-game testing is unique in the type of demands it puts on a player, but it certainly appears that Jennings has been guarded against overdoing it thus far. It's too soon to say whether he would be able to return to play this week but a return to practice would signal he is not far off.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins (foot): Last week, we learned the source of Garcon's pain was a sprained capsule (the thicker tissue that covers a joint). This week, there are reports that the damage is more involved. USA Today Sports reports that Garcon is also dealing with a torn tendon, citing a source briefed on the specifics of the injury. The report suggested that Garcon could be held out through the team's bye (Nov. 11). While the news hints at further damage than initially conveyed, it doesn't change the team's approach, which is to have Garcon let the foot rest. The question becomes how much the extended rest will help the condition. Certainly the pain and inflammation should settle down, but one wonders whether it will return when Garcon resumes running and practice activities. Only time will tell. The bottom line for fantasy owners is that it appears it will be several more weeks before Garcon potentially returns.



DeMarco Murray (foot) and Felix Jones (knee), RBs, Dallas Cowboys: Murray missed Week 7 with a foot injury and Jones got the start in his place. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Jones to exit the field with an injury of his own. On the second play of the game, he injured his neck, but it was deemed to be mild and he later returned. A knee bruise forced Jones to leave the game a second time, and it's not clear whether that will be something that limits him this week. Meanwhile, ESPNDallas.com reports the Cowboys are hopeful Murray can return this week from his sprained left foot. It seems like a quick recovery for a guy who was on crutches and in a boot just last week, but the real test will be at practice, when Murray tests the foot. No word yet as to when that might happen.

Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts (knee): Brown underwent arthroscopic surgery two weeks ago, and the return timetable indicated two to three weeks. Philip B. Wilson of the Indianapolis Star reported Monday that Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Brown is close to returning but may not be quite ready for Week 8. Two weeks sounded a bit quick, given that following surgery, even if relatively minor, a key to a successful return is having regained enough muscular strength to protect the joint. It will be interesting to see how much work Brown gets in practice this week.

Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers (ribs): Gore suffered bruised ribs in the team's Thursday night game and was held out for the final minutes. Their next game is Oct. 29, a Monday night game, and the extra time between games undoubtedly will help. The question then is will Gore's soreness have decreased enough to allow him to play. So far it sounds positive. According to the Sacramento Bee, Gore put in a full practice Monday and expects he will be ready to play in Week 8.

Vincent Brown WR, San Diego Chargers (ankle): Brown suffered a fracture in the preseason and was placed on the new designation of injured reserve/designated to return. He has been largely invisible to the media during his rehab, but the team has insisted that his recovery is on track. However, Wednesday was the first day Brown was eligible to rejoin the team in practice, and he did not. Given Brown's absence and given coach Norv Turner's comments about Brown going "one step at a time" on the team's official website, the earlier hope that Brown could return by Nov. 1 seems to be fading. "He has not been on the field yet. It will be a while before we give you specific timing on when he'll be able to play," Turner said. It's not clear whether Brown has even tried running yet. As of now, it appears he has a ways to go before there is any talk of game action.



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



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

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

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

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

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

Green Bay at Detroit

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

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

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

Miami at Dallas

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

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

San Francisco at Baltimore

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

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

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

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

Schaub, Cassel likely done for season

November, 15, 2011
11/15/11
3:06
PM ET


What key fantasy player on the Houston Texans hasn't missed time due to injury this year? A few days ago the best answer might have been Matt Schaub, but not any longer. To make matters worse, Schaub's injury appears as if it will be season-ending. Schaub suffered a Lisfranc injury to his midfoot and is being evaluated by specialists this week to determine the course of treatment, which may include surgery.

[+] EnlargeMatt Schaub
Margaret Bowles/AP PhotoMatt Schaub was 11-for-15 for 242 yards and two TDs against the Bucs in what might be his last game of the season.
According to the Houston Chronicle, coach Gary Kubiak indicated Schaub's injury happened during a quarterback sneak. "Somebody fell on the back of his foot, and his foot got caught in the pile," Kubiak said. A force placed on the heel while the athlete's forefoot is fixed firmly on the ground (picture a push-off position with the heel in the air at the time the load is sustained) is the most common mechanism for this type of injury in football. It is often difficult for the athlete to continue to play, and in the most serious situations, it is virtually impossible to bear weight. The surprise with Schaub, who managed to play the majority of the game in spite of the second-quarter injury, came Monday when the team discovered just how significant the injury was. According to the Chronicle, the Texans were "stunned" by the news.

Other noteworthy players have suffered Lisfranc injuries -- some severe enough to require surgery -- and have returned to play, although in some cases not to their prior level of play. Running backs Ronnie Brown (injured while a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2009) and Kevin Jones (injured while with the Detroit Lions in 2006) went through lengthy rehabilitation efforts, as did Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, who was injured in 2007. Although the term "Lisfranc" is more easily recognizable now that several prominent athletes have suffered the injury, what it describes remains a mystery to most. Many have asked on Twitter "What exactly is a Lisfranc?" to which the only response is that the answer deserves more than 140 characters. To help explain the complexity of the injury, along with the origin of its unique name, I returned to an entry I wrote in 2007 when Freeney was recovering from his surgery:

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 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, thankfully, 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.

Apparently it was a bad week to be a quarterback named Matt when it came to injuries. Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller Matt Cassel suffered an injury to his right (throwing) hand near the end of Sunday's game that coach Todd Haley said was "significant and could end his season." According to the Kansas City Star, Haley said Cassel's injury will require surgery, although specific details as to the structures involved were not provided. Looks like it will be Tyler Palko facing the New England Patriots next Monday night. Nothing like jumping in under the bright lights.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Howard Smith/US PresswireMichael Vick's status for this week is up in the air after he suffered broken ribs last Sunday.
Maybe it was just a bad week to be a quarterback whose name starts with the letter M. It only took two plays into Sunday's game for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to suffer another injury, this time two broken ribs. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, coach Andy Reid says Vick broke his two lower ribs but the severity of his injury was not immediately obvious. As to whether Vick will be available this Sunday, Reid was uncertain. "We'll see. I'll see in the next little bit. He's a tough nut." Maybe. But his ability to throw effectively may be compromised by the injury (which perhaps we saw on Sunday). His status should become clearer later in the week.

And then there were several more season-ending injuries, including two to offensive players who may be on your fantasy roster. Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno tore his right ACL, effectively ending a season that had already been limited by hamstring injuries. Teammate Willis McGahee came out of the same game with a left hamstring strain, but the Denver Post reports he has been cleared to return to practice Tuesday. If McGahee has a solid practice, he could start Thursday night. Meanwhile, Washington Redskins rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson's season came to an abrupt end when he injured his hip in the fourth quarter, leaving the stadium afterward on crutches. According to the Washington Post, Hankerson suffered a torn labrum. Fortunately for him, youth is on his side and he should make a full recovery.

Quick Hits


• The New York Jets will return to action Thursday night to face the Denver Broncos, just four days after their difficult showing against the New England Patriots. We know the Broncos will be without Knowshon Moreno, but will the Jets also be down a running back? It certainly appears that will be the case, as LaDainian Tomlinson suffered a sprained MCL in Sunday's contest. While the MRI reportedly showed no major damage, four days' rest is a very brief recovery period. Tomlinson was not practicing with the team Tuesday, generally the biggest practice day before a Thursday night game. Fantasy owners who were hoping for a flex play from Tomlinson are advised to look elsewhere.

• Uh-oh. Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune is reporting that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a broken right thumb. However, the Steelers are on a bye this week, and according to Brown, Roethlisberger says he will play in Week 12. But it's best to keep an eye on practice reports heading into that week.

• Now that Matt Schaub is out, quarterback Matt Leinart will take over under center when the Houston Texans return to action in Week 12. All indications are that wide receiver Andre Johnson will be there to help him out. Coach Gary Kubiak said he expects Johnson to participate in practice in advance of the next game, although he acknowledged nothing is set in stone.

[+] EnlargeTBD
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesJeremy Maclin was supposed to pick up the slack for the deactivated DeSean Jackson on Sunday, but instead he left the game twice with injuries.
• Even if Michael Vick does return to action for the Eagles on Sunday, he could very well be without receiver Jeremy Maclin. Maclin suffered not one but two injuries Sunday, a sprained AC joint (commonly referred to as a separated shoulder) and a hamstring injury. Maclin suffered the shoulder injury in the first half but returned to the game, then exited for good in the fourth quarter after straining his hamstring. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported following Sunday's game that Maclin was moving "very slowly and with a limp." On Monday, coach Andy Reid said the shoulder injury was the more serious of the two. Either injury on its own could be enough to limit Maclin. We will see whether he is able to return to practice this week.

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore returned from a left ankle sprain to play in Sunday's game but delivered no fantasy points. It wasn't even his ankle that was the issue. Gore took a hard fall on his knee but emerged with only a bruise, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. However, running backs coach Tom Rathman did not want Gore to return to the field and risk further injury. Gore has indicated he does not expect to miss any playing time, and Maiocco says Gore was walking without a limp Monday, another encouraging sign. The San Francisco Chronicle is echoing the sentiment, reporting coach Jim Harbaugh expects Gore to play. Harbaugh also expressed confidence in "the stable of backs" the 49ers have available, which could hint at a timeshare. The Niners will have a Thursday night game following this Sunday's contest, so spreading the workload around could be a strategy.



• The Detroit Lions do not expect to have running back Jahvid Best this week. Perhaps the most telling quote from coach Jim Schwartz when asked about Best was, "We're status quo with that." According to the Detroit Free Press, Schwartz added, "When we get clearance from the doctors, we'll get him back. But he needs to be symptom-free before we get clearance from the doctors." The inference there is that Best is not yet symptom-free, and as is typical with these injuries, there remains no timeline.



[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastLions QB Matthew Stafford shouldn't expect to see a lot of blitzes from the 49ers on Sunday.
Teammate Calvin Johnson was evaluated for a concussion following a big hit in Sunday's contest but passed his tests, according to Dave Birkett of the Free Press. Johnson says he will play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is also expected to play, despite a fractured index finger on his throwing hand. Stafford entered the game with the injury, which went under the radar with the Lions on bye in Week 9, but it became a topic of conversation after Stafford's less than, well, Stafford-like performance. The Free Press reports that Stafford blames the gusty winds for affecting his play more than the finger. Hmmm. It's difficult to imagine between the tape on his finger and a glove over the tape that there was zero effect from the injury, but Stafford has never made excuses based on his health as long as he could physically take the field. We'll see. This week the Lions play at home, in a dome. No wind there.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones left Sunday's game early because of a hamstring injury. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports this injury is to Jones' right hamstring, the opposite leg of Jones' prior injury that caused him to miss Weeks 6 and 7. His status for Week 11 is uncertain.

• Fellow rookie receiver A.J. Green also had an injury scare Sunday when he landed awkwardly during a touchdown grab in the end zone, hyperextending his right knee. Although his knee was stiff, Green told the Cincinnati Enquirer he did not hear a "pop," usually a good sign, and a follow-up MRI that came back negative was even more encouraging. The Cincinnati Bengals expect him to play Sunday.

• It's too soon to have any meaningful update on New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who sat out Week 10 to rest his healing foot. Bradshaw had improved to walking without pain last week. The key will be when he can progress to running. As coach Tom Coughlin told ESPN New York, "There is no sense speculating. He is going to have to go out and practice." Let's see if he does just that.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis (hamstring) has already been ruled out for Week 11. No word on Montario Hardesty's status (calf) just yet, but we will need to see if he can return to practice.

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



Let the games begin! There are no bye teams this week, so there will be a full complement of games. The only fantasy roster substitutions will be because of injury, of which there are plenty, unfortunately. Tonight also marks the first of the Thursday night games, which will run through all but the final week of the regular season. The Oakland Raiders face the San Diego Chargers in a division matchup with plenty of key fantasy players in the mix. Be sure to set those lineups early!

The Raiders will be without running back Darren McFadden, who has yet to resume running since suffering a midfoot sprain in Week 7. According to the Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Raiders will leave him behind on this trip in the hopes of having him in Week 11 against the Minnesota Vikings. McFadden is still in a walking boot, so he is not close to returning. In the meantime, Michael Bush starts in his place.



Kicker Sebastian Janikowski returned in Week 9 after missing a game with a hamstring injury and kicked a 48-yard field goal. Although there was no word on his status immediately after that game, Janikowski did not practice at all this week. He is listed as questionable, but given that he is the only kicker on the roster headed into Thursday night's game, the plan is clearly for him to play. Still, as if there isn't enough evidence by now, the hamstring is unpredictable. The Raiders have to hope that Janikowski will not suffer any in-game setbacks.

[+] EnlargeMalcom Floyd
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireIt's probably safest for fantasy owners to sit Malcom Floyd for the Thursday night game.
The Chargers are expected to be without wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who apparently aggravated a hip injury in the Week 8 Monday night game. Floyd sat out the Week 9 game just four days ago, has not practiced at all this week and is listed as doubtful. He has a chance to be available (he played once this year already after being listed as doubtful), but clearly he would not be expected to contribute much.



On a positive note, the Chargers will be getting running back Ryan Mathews back after he missed Sunday's game with a groin injury. Mathews, currently listed as probable, was able to return to full practice Tuesday, the heaviest workday for teams playing Thursday.



Wide receiver Vincent Jackson has been contending with a hamstring injury for a number of weeks but has managed to play despite not being at full health. However, on Sunday, Jackson turned in one of his strongest performances of the season and seemed to emerge no worse for the wear. He is expected to play after practicing in full all week and is no longer listed on the injury report.



Meanwhile, tight end Antonio Gates has an all too familiar plantar fascia problem that has plagued him since last season. Recently, however, Gates has been able to play and practice on a fairly consistent basis, albeit in a controlled manner. It appears Gates will play in Thursday night's game, his fourth straight game after missing three weeks earlier in the season.

Quick Hits


• It's admittedly fatiguing reporting repeatedly on the status of Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, because it seems the story is unchanged. Johnson continues to do some work on his own, primarily running and individual workouts with the rehab staff, but so far, persistent soreness has prevented him from taking that next step and returning to the lineup. Johnson has not practiced, but on Thursday, coach Gary Kubiak said Johnson is "doing extremely well," according to Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com. He suggests if Johnson is able to practice Friday, he could be a game-time decision. It's worth noting that this has also been the case in previous weeks, but he hasn't played.

The Texans have maintained they would not automatically rest Johnson through the bye in Week 11, but the timing is hard to ignore. It has been clear since the date of the procedure that the goal of surgery was to have Johnson avoid dealing with a nagging, chronic injury. It makes sense, then, that he would not return prematurely following the procedure and risk a setback that would yield the same result. While Johnson has looked good running, he has not yet felt like himself. Until he does, he will not return, and again this week, the decision likely will be in Johnson's hands.



New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram returned to limited practice Wednesday, his first since suffering a heel bruise in Week 7. Ingram followed up Wednesday's effort with a Thursday practice, a good sign that he is healing, but perhaps not enough to convince us that he's ready for games. It remains to be seen what he does on Friday but at this point, Ingram's status still appears questionable. Teammate Lance Moore was not in practice Thursday because of a tight hamstring, so keep an eye on what he is able to do Friday.

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesHakeem Nicks hopes to get back on the field after missing last week's Patriots game.
• The New York Giants have two big question marks heading into this weekend's big contest against the San Francisco 49ers. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks sat out Week 9 with a hamstring injury but is making progress daily. Nicks ran on the side Wednesday, then followed that up with individual drills Thursday. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, if he continues to feel no aftereffects from these consecutive workouts, he could return to practice Friday and hopefully play Sunday. We know better now that with regard to hamstring injuries, it is too soon to lock Nicks into your lineup, but he is at least headed in the right direction.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw has a known stress fracture in his foot and has not practiced this week. The criterion for his return revolves around when he can resume running without pain. Until we see him doing just that, it is hard to see him taking to the field.



• The 49ers have an injury concern impacting one of their own key players. Running back Frank Gore sustained an ankle injury in Week 9 and has been limited in practice this week. Gore finished Sunday's game and is expected to suit up again. But Gore was seen favoring his ankle in practice, according to CSN Bay Area, and if it is still bothering him Sunday, Kendall Hunter might see some additional work.

Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones did some increased work Monday to test his recovering left ankle. Jones has not practiced since. His return to rehab instead of the practice field suggests he will sit out his fourth consecutive game.

• Just as receiver Plaxico Burress seems to be getting in a rhythm with his quarterback, his back starts to act up. Last week, Burress entered the game questionable because of back spasms but managed to endure. This week, Burress has not practiced because of his back, but at his age and coming off extended time away from football, he may be awarded a little more recovery time. Stay tuned to see whether he returns to Friday practice.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog!



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

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

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

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

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



Quick Hits


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep close eye on injured Steelers

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
5:47
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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.

Good news for Vick, Foster, Colston

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
5:36
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Quarterbacks

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: Last week, a concussion put Vick's status in question. This week it's a hand contusion, but Vick isn't leaving much room for doubt about his availability, as he told reporters Wednesday that there's a "100 percent chance" he'll be starting Sunday. Vick put in a full practice Wednesday showing that the swelling in his non-throwing hand is not enough to limit his ability to handle the ball in all situations. After two weeks of early departures due to injury, the only question this week is can Vick last four quarters? Vick took that on as well, saying "they'll have to cart me off the field" for him to exit the game, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Without a doubt he'll be a target, just as he always is. The only way to prove that he can stay on the field will be to actually do it. We'll see what happens come Sunday.



Running Backs

[+] EnlargeArian Foster
AP Photo/Joe HowellArian Foster appears ready to be the Texans' primary running back once again.
Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward, Houston Texans: There has been a bit of a running back carousel in place thus far in Houston, born as much out of necessity, thanks to injuries. That carousel turns again this week as it appears Foster, who rested in Week 3, will not only play but will, in all likelihood, start. Foster actually practiced last week and by his account, could have played. The Texans opted for another week of rest, not wanting to press their luck after Foster had already suffered one setback with his hamstring before the season started, and then tightened up halfway in Week 2. With Ward out since Week 1 with a high ankle sprain, Ben Tate has proven to be an able backup, but a backup he remains. Foster participated fully in Wednesday's practice and afterward, according to the Texans' website, he said of his hamstring, "I have no issues with it anymore." Let's hope not. Of course the only way to know for sure that the issue is behind him is to watch Foster play in multiple games without a setback, something fantasy owners everywhere are eagerly awaiting.

Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams, St. Louis Rams: Jackson was back in Wednesday practice for the first time since injuring his quadriceps. It was a limited practice but quarterback Sam Bradford seemed pretty excited about it. Bradford told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Anytime he's out here [for] Wednesday practicing, especially the way he looked today -- he looked great, he looked fast, he looked like himself -- that's definitely going to be big for us." So the Rams have some inspiration and fantasy owners have hope that there will be more action for Jackson in Week 4. Although Jackson was active in Week 3, he only had four carries, a plan specifically designed by the coaching staff to get Jackson on the field but control his activity. As for Jackson's backup Williams, he too was limited in practice as he recovers from a hamstring ailment. Williams was on the injury report before last week's game yet still carried the bulk of the running workload, so he should again be available. If all goes according to plan, Williams will actually function as the backup this week.

Wide Receivers

[+] EnlargeMarques Colston
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezMarques Colston could be back in action much sooner than expected.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: Colston has been out since the season opener with a clavicle fracture and underwent surgery to have a small plate implanted. However, his recovery has been swift. The Saints originally projected him to miss four weeks but there were rumblings Wednesday that Colston would actually return to play in Week 4. Not so fast. While Colston did return to practice Wednesday, it was only in a limited capacity. And the report he would play Sunday came from an Associated Press report following a conference call between Saints head coach Sean Payton and the Jacksonville media. The exact words from Payton, according to a transcript released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, were, "Yeah, he was listed as limited, but he's cleared. He'll be up this week." It's not exactly Payton definitively stating Colston takes the field Sunday. According to James Varney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Payton rarely offers that type of detailed injury information, especially early in the week. But Varney also notes that the words "up this week" typically refer to a player being on the 46-man active roster with the expectation that he will, indeed, play. So what are fantasy owners to make of it? It's probably still too early to say for sure but the signs are encouraging that Colston is close. The main issue is whether the healing in Colston's collarbone is sufficient for there to be low concern about the risk of reinjury should he land hard on that shoulder again. Typically it takes four to six weeks for bone to heal, although evidence of substantial healing can appear sooner, depending on the individual. Fantasy owners would be wise to keep an eye on injury reports through the remainder of the week and see how things are shaping up as Sunday draws closer.

Quick Hits


Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells sat out last week with a hamstring strain and was limited in practice Wednesday. Although Wells seems confident he'll take the field this Sunday, head coach Ken Whisenhunt seems cautious. According to the Cardinals' official website, Whisenhunt expressed the common fear surrounding any hamstring injury. "It's one of those things where you are worried that when he opens it up it may pull and you can feel that little twinge," he said. The Cardinals will see how Wells tolerates the week of practice before making a final decision.

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore has been a limited participant in the team's practices thus far. It still sounds as though head coach Jim Harbaugh is leaning toward Gore playing Sunday, but how the carries would be divided between him and Kendall Hunter is up in the air.

[+] EnlargeFelix Jones
AP Photo/Tim SharpFelix Jones has battled shoulder issues the past two weeks.
Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones practiced fully just two days after aggravating his shoulder Monday night. He appears to be on track to play this week. Teammate Dez Bryant's status might be of more concern. Bryant played intermittently Monday night after sitting out in Week 2 with a deep thigh bruise. Clearly he has not fully recovered from the injury as he remained limited in practice Wednesday then did not appear at practice Thursday. With Miles Austin expected out again because of his strained hamstring, the Cowboys would like to have Bryant on the field. This could be another gametime decision.

• Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is recovering from a hamstring strain and sounds as though he expects to play Sunday. He did not practice Wednesday but did return to the field Thursday for some work. The story with hamstrings is familiar: See how the athlete responds as the week progresses. Even then, it may come down to the pregame warmup to determine just how Maclin is faring.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd is no longer on the injury report this week but teammate Knowshon Moreno is. Moreno did practice fully Wednesday, something he has not done since injuring his hamstring, but needs to get through the rest of the week to inspire any confidence. Moreno was active but did not play a single snap last Sunday. It appears teammate Willis McGahee is still expected to garner the bulk of the work, at least until Moreno shows he is healthy enough to challenge him.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson did not practice Wednesday but is expected to play again in Week 4. After limping out of the Week 2 game, Johnson appeared strong through the entire contest in Week 3. It remains an injury that could flare up but as long as he's performing, Johnson will not be limited.

Antonio Gates
Jody Gomez/US PresswireAntonio Gates has scored just seven fantasy points all season.
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates looks like he'll miss Sunday's game. On Tuesday we referenced the challenges Gates is facing with his chronic foot pain. At this point Gates appears resigned to missing some time, it's just unclear how much.

• It's looking as though Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant will not receive medical clearance to play after suffering a bruised kidney in Week 3. Grant has not practiced yet this week. James Starks would start in his place.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice made an impact in Week 3 after sitting out the first two weeks of the season with a torn labrum. He reportedly emerged no worse for the wear and is expected to play on in Week 4.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is still recovering from his sprained left MCL. He sat out Week 3 and although he sounded optimistic about potentially returning in Week 4, it's far from a sure thing. Hernandez was not in practice Wednesday or Thursday and until we see him out there in some measure, it's hard to believe he'll be ready Sunday.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 4 in the Saturday morning blog!



Week 3 remained true to form. There was another season-ending injury to a key fantasy player (Kenny Britt), a big blow was dealt to a top-rated quarterback (Michael Vick) and, well, there were plenty of other nicks and bruises.



[+] EnlargeKenny Britt
Jim Brown/US PresswireKenny Britt, in the midst of the best start of his career, will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL.
The Tennessee Titans lost wide receiver Britt for the rest of the season, not to the ailing hamstring that had bothered him since camp, but to a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. Britt landed awkwardly on his right leg as he spun away from contact with a defender and his knee buckled. Between Britt's obvious pain and the dreaded cart driving him off the field, it had all the signs of being serious from the outset. Britt will soon undergo season-ending reconstructive surgery.



The Philadelphia Eagles lost Vick for a portion of the game, just as they did in Week 2, but the injury was not as severe as initially reported. Vick's injury was originally reported to be a broken hand, but upon further evaluation Monday, it was determined to be a contusion (a deep bruise). No fracture was present. Coach Andy Reid indicated that a blood vessel in the area of the bone being examined gave the illusion of a fracture on X-rays taken at the stadium, but a more detailed CT scan taken Monday showed no break.

Quick Hits


• Prior to the season, Antonio Gates' foot was raising some red flags. Now there's more reason to be concerned. Gates is dealing with increased pain in the foot and is being forced to evaluate how to proceed moving forward. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote a detailed piece explaining the options Gates faces -- essentially trying to play through the discomfort on a weekly basis or rest for a few weeks in the hope it helps him get through the latter part of the season -- but also the frustration Gates is experiencing. He is expected to see a specialist Tuesday and we should learn more in the coming days. For fantasy owners, even if Gates opts to try to play, his status may be in doubt from week to week.



Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones aggravated his right shoulder late in Monday night's game, but according to ESPN Dallas, owner Jerry Jones doesn't seem overly concerned about him missing time. The concern with Felix Jones is that every time the shoulder absorbs contact, it has the potential to increase pain as well as prevent the involved tissue from healing.



[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesJeremy Maclin has gotten off to a decent start, but a hamstring injury makes his status a question mark heading into this week.
• Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin strained a hamstring and, like his quarterback, was forced out of Sunday's game early. Maclin underwent an MRI on Monday after which coach Andy Reid told reporters the injury was not as bad as originally feared. That said, the MRI does not tell the whole picture and it will be far more telling to see how Maclin looks in practice this week. Fantasy owners should have a backup plan, just in case he ends up sitting out against the San Francisco 49ers this week.

• Speaking of the 49ers, running back Frank Gore was on the sidelines for the bulk of the second half in Week 3 with a sprained right ankle. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Gore said his ankle was injured in the second quarter on a tackle by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga and was noncommittal about his status for Week 4. Coach Jim Harbaugh, who usually says very little when it comes to injuries, did tell the Chronicle that in his mind Gore was "good to go." It sounds like the 49ers are not overly concerned about Gore's availability.



• Across the bay, Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden suffered a groin strain after racking up 171 yards on the ground against the New York Jets. McFadden, currently the league's leading rusher, downplayed the issue after the game, suggesting he will not miss any time with the injury. Head coach Hue Jackson also seemed confident that McFadden would be fine for Week 4, but he's not taking any chances in practice this week. According to the Oakland Tribune, Jackson told reporters, "I'm going to be very cautious with him to make sure he's OK."

• We're hearing a lot about internal organs on the injury report this year. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo suffered a punctured lung last week, and this week Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant suffered a bruised kidney. Painful, yes, but depending on the degree of bruising, it may not be a long-term issue. New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston suffered a similar injury last year in the preseason finale but played in the season opener. The Packers will monitor Grant closely and we should hear more about his status later in the week.

• There is early optimism on a couple of other players, as both Houston Texans running back Arian Foster and Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells are expected to return in Week 4 after both missed Sunday's game due to hamstring strains. As we all know by now, the final verdict will come down to how they are able to get through the practice week.



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



My sympathies are with my fellow San Francisco 49ers fans this morning as everyone tries to resolve conflicted feelings of joy over a big Monday night win and sadness from the loss of running back Frank Gore to injury. Gore suffered an apparent right hip fracture and looks to be done for the season. It's an unusual injury to be sure and the details are lacking (such as where exactly the break is), but any fracture is serious and typically requires more than a month to heal, which is about all that is left to the season. Gore, as most people know, is more than just a running back for the 49ers; he represents a significant portion of the offense. Matt Maiocco of Comcast Sports Net Bay Area provided a telling statistic last night: Gore has accounted for 37 percent of the 49ers' total offensive yardage. Think he'll be missed? More than a little, I'd say.

[+] EnlargeFrank Gore
AP Photo/Paul ConnorsFrank Gore finishes the season with 1,305 total yards, five total TDs and 147 fantasy points in standard leagues.
It's worth noting, however, that the fresh legs of Brian Westbrook handled the bulk of the running workload after Gore's injury, making him look like a far more critical acquisition now. Anthony Dixon still found his way into the end zone, but the 49ers saw that Westbrook can provide a spark. Westbrook is no stranger to injury himself, with a history of chronic knee and ankle problems, not to mention the concussion issues that cut his 2009 season short. But the time off -- from fewer games played last season to the paltry five carries he had heading into Monday night's game -- may be a huge benefit now. Westbrook showed that he can still make big plays; whether he can do it for 16 games remains in question. Luckily, the 49ers need Westbrook's productivity for only five more weeks unless, of course, they make the playoffs. After all, they are only one game out of first place in the, ahem, less competitive NFC West. Maybe Westbrook is in your fantasy future after all?

And on that note, here's who else we're talking about in the injury department as we count down to Week 13:

• What would the injury blog be without a section dedicated to the San Diego Chargers? They have dealt with a myriad of injuries on the offensive front, and there appears to be no end in sight. Most notably this week, wide receiver Vincent Jackson was limited to two plays in his 2010 debut before being forced out with a calf injury. And then the conspiracy theories began. Ultimately the questions are just how injured Jackson was and why no one saw it coming. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chargers confirm that Jackson's injury, a strain of his right calf, is legitimate. The chronology of Jackson's injury began in Friday practice when Jackson reportedly hurt his left calf but did not leave the field. The injury was decidedly not serious, with some suggesting it was more soreness from overdoing it in practice than a true injury. According to the Union-Tribune, Jackson then injured his right calf in pregame warm-ups but attempted to play, obviously unsuccessfully.



With regard to Jackson's status, Coach Norv Turner told the Union-Tribune, "I would think it would probably be hard for him to play this week. Then, after that, it would be on a week-to-week basis." Good thing Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee appear to have emerged relatively unscathed from Sunday's game. Both wide receivers are recovering from hamstring strains.

Perhaps the best news for the Chargers coming out of the Sunday night game was the return of tight end Antonio Gates to the playing field, and the fact that he felt pretty good afterward. According to Turner, Gates felt "better than anticipated," welcome news after his first big test since he tore the plantar fascia in his right foot. Gates did not appear to be moving particularly well early in the game but managed to contribute nonetheless. Considering he was still struggling in practice Thursday, his performance was impressive. While he's not 100 percent, he looks to be able to move forward.

Last but not least, Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has been out for two weeks since aggravating his high ankle sprain. While the Chargers indicate Mathews could be available this week, it remains to be seen whether he can return to practice, a likely precursor to game play.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
Rafael Suanes/US PresswireAdrian Peterson still had 70 total yards and a touchdown before leaving Sunday's game with an ankle injury.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has an injured right ankle, which forced him to leave the Week 12 contest early. Interim head coach Leslie Frazier told reporters Monday that Peterson had an MRI which revealed "only" a sprain. Peterson's availability will largely depend on what he is able to do this week. Severe sprains can significantly hamper a running back's mobility, especially laterally, so while there has to be relief that nothing is broken, this injury can still present a challenge for Peterson.



Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young has taken to the social media airwaves again, tweeting that his thumb surgery was a success. Since he's on injured reserve, we'll wait until next year to see how his thumb is faring. Of more immediate concern is who will run the Titans' offense in Week 13. Kerry Collins has been sidelined with a calf strain but appears to be approaching a return. Coach Jeff Fisher indicates that the team will have a better idea of Collins' status late in the week.

• The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their quarterback suffer an injury in Week 12 as well, as Ben Roethlisberger suffered what is being called a foot sprain. ESPN is reporting that Roethlisberger expects to play in Week 13 but likely will wear a protective boot to rest his foot during the week. Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that they will "see where the week takes us." Roethlisberger has already shown he can perform with limited practice and he never was the most mobile quarterback. So far there is reason to be encouraged about his status.

• The usually quiet Indianapolis Colts have given us a clue about the status of one of their key players for Week 13. According to Phillip Wilson of the Indianapolis Star, general manager Bill Polian said that running back Joseph Addai will need more time before returning. Addai returned to limited practice (noncontact drills only) last week, but his recovery from a nerve injury affecting his left shoulder continues to be slow. Donald Brown likely will be the starter again this week.

[+] EnlargeMike Williams
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMike Williams had two straight 100-yard games before sitting out Week 12 with a foot injury.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams sat out Week 12 because of a foot injury. Williams, who was injured in Week 11, was originally believed to have a serious foot injury that might threaten his season. By late last week, however, the Seahawks were comfortable that the injury was not nearly as bad as feared, but Williams was still not able to be on the field. His status for this week remains uncertain. Coach Pete Carroll told the Tacoma News-Tribune that the medical staff examined Williams "and there wasn't a lot of improvement." The team would like to have him practice by the end of the week if he is to play Sunday.

• Wide receiver Greg Jennings suffered a foot strain in Week 12. The Green Bay Packers' website reports Jennings could miss some practice time this week, but he does not appear in danger of missing playing time. Foot injuries can be problematic for receivers when trying to push off and cut, so the test will come when Jennings tries those maneuvers. Fantasy owners should keep an eye on this one just in case it turns into something bigger.

• The Dallas Cowboys initially sounded as if they expected to be without running back Marion Barber for a couple of weeks because of a calf strain suffered on Thanksgiving. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting, however, that Barber's calf improved significantly over the weekend. While he still appears likely to miss this week's contest, the Cowboys are calling him day-to-day. Calf strains tend to linger a bit, though, and if Tashard Choice is available, fantasy owners may want to go and get him. He'll be the beneficiary if Barber is down.



We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 13 on Thursday and Saturday!



It's time for fantasy owners to make midweek moves to boost their fantasy rosters. Injury concerns naturally factor into those decisions as we try to gauge who is going to miss time and just how long that absence will be. This week there are four teams on bye: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers, so be sure to secure your replacements. Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 5.

Quarterbacks

Eli Manning, New York Giants: On Tuesday, I detailed plantar fasciitis, the condition afflicting Manning. On Wednesday, Manning sat out practice and coach Tom Coughlin indicated Manning would be considered day-to-day. For his part, Manning appears intent on playing and Coughlin has said that his star quarterback could play even if he's unable to practice during the week. The bottom line at this point is that this is shaping up to be a potential game-time decision, one which will depend on whether Manning can maintain his normal throwing mechanics despite the pain.

Matt Hasselbeck
Steve Dykes/US PresswireMatt Hasselbeck wants to play this week, but will injuries elsewhere hurt his chances to get a start?
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: Hasselbeck sat out Weeks 3 and 4 while recovering from a broken rib and was still having pain with deep breathing last week. Coach Jim Mora told reporters his quarterback is "without question doing everything possible to get out on the football field." Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp remarked that Hasselbeck's throwing motion looked fine but that he was not quite in football shape. However, he shared practice time with Seneca Wallace on Wednesday, according to The Seattle Times. Hasselbeck indicated that he wanted to come back, but would go with what was in the best interest of the team. A main concern for the Seahawks will be providing him enough protection up front should he be able to play Sunday. Despite the team's recent struggles, the goal is clearly to avoid any setbacks and to have him available for the long haul. On the other hand, the Seahawks have been plagued with offensive line injuries, which may also factor into the decision as to whether he gets the start in Week 5.

Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles: McNabb will start Sunday. Coach Andy Reid said it himself Wednesday and made it clear that McNabb is resuming control at the helm in Week 5. McNabb is reportedly feeling much better, but knows he is not yet 100 percent recovered. He acknowledged on the Eagles' official Web site that things like laughing and coughing still cause discomfort, but he does not expect to be restricted at all playing football. McNabb will no doubt be wearing some extra protection over his ribs this weekend, but now that he's back in practice, fantasy owners can expect to have him back in their lineups as well.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Stafford reportedly suffered a patellar subluxation in Week 4 (although the Lions are staying mum on the topic), and on Tuesday I outlined the nature of such an injury. He did not practice Wednesday, which is not especially surprising given the nature of the injury. Although coach Jim Schwartz is not speculating as to whether Stafford is going to be available for Sunday's contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, if the rookie misses another day, it would be hard to imagine him playing. From the physical perspective, Stafford would need to have enough resolution of pain and swelling to allow his quadriceps muscle to function normally. He needs to be able to play the position without apprehension that his patella (kneecap) will go out on him again, so quadriceps strength plays a large role. Although Stafford could (and most likely will) eventually play with some sort of support around the kneecap, it seems unlikely that he would be turned loose against the Steelers' defense if he is not fully mobile. If Stafford is on your fantasy team, it is probably best to secure another option at this point.

Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams: Kyle Boller filled in for Bulger last week as Bulger nursed a bruised throwing shoulder. Bulger did perform some throwing in pregame warm-ups, however, and continued with light throwing Monday. On Wednesday, Bulger continued to progress with his throws, but ESPN's NFC West blogger Mike Sando reports that it is almost certain the Rams will hold Bulger out another week. With his shoulder still on the mend, some issues with the offensive line and a tough Minnesota Vikings pass rush, the decision might be to simply allow him another week of healing and avoiding hits.

Running Backs

Felix Jones and Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys: Barber was a full participant in Wednesday's practice and Felix Jones was absent. While nothing definitive has been said regarding Jones' status, at the time of his injury (PCL sprain), there were rumblings that he would miss a couple of weeks and fantasy owners should plan on his not being available. Meanwhile, Barber, whose quad tightened up in the second half of last week's game, should fare better this week. If he continues to practice fully throughout the week, he can be expected to start Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. By the end of the week, we should have a better idea as to how much work we can expect from Barber in the game.

Willie Parker
Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMIWillie Parker hoped he'd play last week but didn't. Now, he's far less optimistic that he'll play this week.
Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers: Parker sat out Week 4 with a case of turf toe sustained during the Week 3 contest in Cincinnati. Although Parker appeared to be holding out hope during the week that he would play, as the Sunday deadline approached and he was still unable to run, it became apparent that he would need to rest the painful toe. As is often the case with turf toe, this is not a problem with a quick fix. Parker seems to be resigned to that and is not nearly as optimistic heading into Week 5. After not practicing Wednesday, Parker told reporters that although he wants to go out and compete, he is not where he needs to be right now to perform. Given Rashard Mendenhall's solid performance in Week 4 and knowing the Steelers are headed to the turf of Detroit's Ford Field, it is sounding as if Mendenhall will again take the place of Parker in Week 5.

Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook will join his teammate Donovan McNabb back in the lineup in Week 5. Westbrook missed Week 3 as he recovered from a sprain to the right ankle he had surgically addressed in June. It appeared that Westbrook's intended return would follow the bye week, and so far things are going according to plan. Coach Andy Reid has already indicated on the Eagles' official Web site that he expects to rotate Westbrook with LeSean McCoy. We have been saying for some time now that this was the likely evolution at the running back position so that the Eagles could make use of Westbrook's talents while not overloading his joints. Barring a setback late in the week, Westbrook should at least be in line for a portion of the action Sunday, but how much time he sees is unknown.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers: Regular readers won't be surprised to learn that Frank Gore has been ruled out for this Sunday's contest with his ankle injuries, according to Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Gore was initially projected to miss a few weeks and was not expected to return until after the 49ers' bye week (which is in Week 6) at the earliest.

Correll Buckhalter, Denver Broncos: Buckhalter suffered a sprained left ankle in Week 4 and it looks as if the door has been opened for rookie Knowshon Moreno to get his first career start. Buckhalter missed practice Wednesday and reports suggest that the Broncos may be without his services when they face the New England Patriots in Week 5. Moreno appeared to be progressing toward a starting role for the Broncos as his workload has expanded over the first few weeks of the season. Buckhalter's injury may have just moved the timetable along. Moreno's fantasy owners have to be excited about the prospects here.

Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins: The Washington Times reports that Portis will be ready to face the Panthers in Week 5 despite aggravating an ankle injury. Earlier this year coach Jim Zorn indicated that Portis was dealing with bone spurs in both ankles and had been trying to play through pain. Just last week, Portis remarked how much better his ankles were feeling with his current treatment regimen. Despite that optimism, this situation is likely to be ongoing throughout the season. Nonetheless, Portis was not on Wednesday's injury report, which is a good sign heading into the weekend.

Fred Taylor, New England Patriots: Taylor did not practice Wednesday and was listed on the practice (injury) report as "ankle." Given the Patriots' notorious secrecy when it comes to injuries, there are no indications as to whether this is a serious injury that could result in missed time or whether they are resting Taylor's ankle in advance of this week's contest. Stay tuned for practice reports as the week progresses.

Wide Receivers

Roy E. Williams, Dallas Cowboys: Williams says he expects to play in Week 5 despite injured rib cartilage, according to The Dallas Morning News. That said, Williams did not practice Wednesday. His status could evolve heading up to game time, so stay tuned for updates.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Johnson rested his bruised thigh Wednesday and did not practice. Although the Lions have not indicated whether or not they expect Johnson to be available, his status will remain day to day until proven otherwise.

Wes Welker, New England Patriots: Welker was finally able to get back on the field in Week 4 after being limited with a mysterious knee ailment that had kept him out since Week 2. Welker had a modest fantasy performance Sunday but showed that he was able to run at full speed and make some plays. Welker was held to a limited practice Wednesday, suggesting that the Patriots are still being cautious when it comes to his knee. However, if he continues to practice daily it's likely he will see the field again this week.



Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bryant was able to get in the end zone Sunday and appeared to be more Antonio Bryant-like in Week 4. He has been working his way back from post-surgical knee soreness that appeared after his Week 1 debut. Although Bryant was limited in practice Wednesday, this may well be a precautionary measure to ensure his availability for Sunday.

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 11:00 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 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. to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!



Welcome to the post-Week 3 breakdown. It was nice to see a couple of players return from injury and show us that they are definitively on the mend (Pierre Thomas, Kevin Walter). Of course there are always new names to add to the injured list. Here's what we have so far ...

Felix Jones
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesFelix Jones ran for 94 yards on just eight carries before getting hurt.
Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Once it became official that Marion Barber would sit out Monday night's game with a strained quadriceps, fantasy owners had high expectations for the Felix Jones and Tashard Choice tandem. And they delivered ... but not necessarily as expected. Jones was off to a great start but was then forced to exit the game early with what the team is calling a knee strain. This vague terminology provides no specific clues as to the severity of Jones' injury, but ESPN's Ed Werder reported it may be something more serious. According to Werder, team owner Jerry Jones said that the running back was "unable to loosen his left knee," adding that he will undergo further evaluation Tuesday. Keep in mind that Jones suffered a partial tear of his left hamstring last season, followed by a left toe injury that required season-ending surgery. Now this. Although Barber has clearly made some progress, whether he is able to run full speed and play in Week 4 remains in question. While we await further test results on Jones and practice results on Barber, Choice, who had a fantastic second half functioning as the only healthy running back, is looking like a good fantasy option for Week 4.

Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Despite the fact Gore suffered a minor ankle sprain in Week 2, reports indicated that he looked to be in good shape heading into Week 3. However, just one carry into the game, Gore's day was over. The 49ers' official Web site is reporting that an MRI on Gore's right ankle revealed the presence of a "strain" (implicating muscle or tendon, most likely tendon given the location near the joint) along with a "hindfoot sprain" and he is expected to be out for "approximately three weeks." A hindfoot (or rearfoot) sprain is less common and can present a bigger challenge in terms of recovery, especially since it usually requires more force to suffer the injury in the first place. Fantasy owners would be wise to make immediate preparations (like picking up Glen Coffee if he's available) for Gore's absence. The 49ers have a bye in Week 6, so his initial targeted return stands at Oct. 25, but stay tuned as that can certainly change.

Other quick hits:

Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith suffered a shoulder injury that has not been detailed by the team, although Smith told the Detroit News that he doesn't "have any bone damage or anything like that." Actually, it's the soft tissue injuries that are the most worrisome in the shoulder, so Smith's revelation isn't especially helpful. But Smith did add that he hopes to practice Wednesday. It may be ambitious, but if he's able to get back to some activity that quickly, it's a positive sign.

Marc Bulger may not be available to call the signals for the St. Louis Rams this week after bruising the rotator cuff on his throwing (right) shoulder. While he has yet to be ruled out for this week's game, there has to be enough reduction of any pain and swelling for him to get his arm overhead and throw effectively. It will most likely require a week of rest to get there, so expect Kyle Boller to get the start for Week 4, barring some quick healing.

• ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the right quadriceps injury suffered by Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney on Sunday night is expected to keep him out for two to three weeks. Just like a running back who needs his quad to be explosive in order to perform effectively at his position (see Marion Barber), a speed rushing defensive end depends on that same explosive power. He will not be able to return until he can run full speed, so it is simply a matter of how long it takes the tissue to heal.

• In the season-ending injury department, Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Laurent Robinson were added to the list. Pennington suffered a torn capsule in his shoulder, according to ESPN's Chris Mortenson, while Robinson suffered a broken fibula (lower leg bone) in conjunction with a high ankle sprain. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Robinson will undergo surgery. Pennington's immediate plans are less certain, other than that he is expected to pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews, who has performed two operations on Pennington's rotator cuff. A third serious injury to the throwing arm of a quarterback is very discouraging, particularly when the stability and strength are threatened.



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

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11:00 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.) and we'll have the latest injury updates in the Thursday and Saturday blogs.



Welcome to the post-Week 2 breakdown. Literally, some more guys are breaking down this week. I think there's a copycat phenomenon happening in the NFL. In the preseason, I thought it was the MCL sprain. Now I think it might be the rib fracture. Forget bruised ribs, these guys are taking it to the extreme with broken bones. When does a fantasy owner need to start worrying about making roster moves? Here's what we have so far ...

Matt Hasselbeck
AP Photo/Ben MargotMatt Hasselbeck suffered a broken rib in very similar fashion as Donovan McNabb.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle Seahawks: In a chapter out of the Philadelphia Eagles' playbook, Hasselbeck suffered a fractured rib when a San Francisco 49ers player collided with him as he went down to the ground. Hasselbeck struggled to get off the field and there was concern that he might have suffered additional internal injuries. The good news there is that imaging tests showed no internal damage, but unfortunately they did confirm the presence of a broken rib. For his part, Hasselbeck told the Seattle Times that he has "definitely felt worse." He went on to say that he has woken up on a Monday feeling worse than he did this week, which he finds encouraging. Hasselbeck says he hopes to play, but the fact of the matter is that it really comes down to what happens as the week progresses. While his optimism is encouraging, it would not be surprising to see Seneca Wallace start in his place.

Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys: His injury was painful to watch. Barber, who had been running beautifully, reached for his left leg as he pulled up and then crumbled to the ground. The fact that he reached for the front of his thigh suggested a quadriceps strain, the question was how severe it was. Barber underwent an MRI on Monday and the Dallas Morning News is reporting that the test confirmed a strain. Although the team has not indicated the severity of the strain, we take our clues where we can get them. A confirmation of tissue damage on MRI suggests a Grade II, or moderate, strain, which represents a wide range of injury. Depending on just how much bleeding there is in the area, the healing time frame can range from two weeks to more than a month. Remember that St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson suffered a quadriceps strain last year and it cost him four games and part of a fifth. Coach Wade Phillips says they will "have to wait and see" whether Barber misses any time and certainly his ability to practice will help determine that. Fantasy owners should plan on seeing more Felix Jones and Tashard Choice this week.

Mike Bell, RB, New Orleans Saints: It may be the running back carousel in New Orleans and not necessarily by design. After stepping up ably for the injured Pierre Thomas in the first two weeks, Bell suffered an injury of his own. He sprained his right knee, his medial collateral ligament (MCL) to be exact, just like Thomas. However, it sounds like Bell's injury may be slightly less serious, as his MRI showed no structural damage, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune (suggesting a Grade I, or minor, sprain). This is still something that could cause Bell to miss time, although perhaps only a week or two, so the healing Thomas could ramp up his workload as a result. The Saints are not yet saying whether Bell will sit this week out, but fantasy owners should prepare for that eventuality.

Other quick hits


• Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is still feeling pain where he broke his rib, which is no surprise. After all, this is the kind of injury that hurts for weeks. Just imagine how much worse his pain would be if he had played. There is still a question as to whether McNabb will indeed start Sunday. You have to imagine that if there is any doubt as to whether he can be effective, Kevin Kolb will get the start against the Kansas City Chiefs and McNabb will rest until Week 5 (the Eagles have a bye in Week 4). Once again, it all will depend on whether he can practice this week or not.

Brian Westbrook
AP Photo/Matt SlocumNot surprisingly, Brian Westbrook is banged up again, although for now it looks like he'll be able to go on Sunday.
• Sticking with the Eagles and a familiar name when it comes to injury, running back Brian Westbrook suffered a sprained right ankle in Week 2. It is worth noting that this is the ankle he had surgery on during the summer. This should not come as a complete surprise to regular readers here. As I indicated in June, when Westbrook made the decision to undergo surgery, the damage to the joint likely reflected some instability, and that is likely a contributing factor here. While the injury itself has not been deemed serious, it is probably indicative of the challenges Westbrook will continue to face from week to week. Expect a healthy dose of LeSean McCoy in Week 3. Also, wide receiver DeSean Jackson appeared to aggravate the groin injury suffered in Week 1, although it didn't hurt his fantasy stats. Jackson probably will be held to limited practice this week, but it will not become clear whether the groin will threaten his playing status until later in the week.

• The New York Giants added to their injury roster this weekend. Most notably, defensive end Justin Tuck had a hard fall onto his shoulder. Tuck was not only in pain after the injury, he was angry about how it happened. Tuck was visibly tripped by Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams and referred to the play as "bush league." X-rays taken at the time were negative. However, according to the New York Times, Tuck, who was wearing a sling after the game, was in so much pain that he was having trouble dressing. MRI results have not been released but Tuck says he will play. As a defensive end, he needs to be able to get his arm up high and have enough strength to wrap up an opponent as his shoulder is getting yanked. We will see if he can get to that point in time for this Sunday's contest. Meanwhile, wide receiver Domenik Hixon suffered a knee sprain in that same game, but was seeking to get back into the game, suggesting that it is not terribly serious.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Bryant stayed home this weekend to rest his sore post-surgical knee, skipping the team trip to Buffalo. The Tampa Tribune is reporting that Bryant has a bone bruise, but no timetable has been issued as to when he can return. Much will depend on Bryant's pain, which he currently describes as dull, an improvement over the sharp pain he was experiencing previously. He hopes to play this weekend but is mindful of the big picture, i.e. his availability for the long haul of the season. Fantasy owners should not panic over Bryant's condition at this point as it appears he will be available within the next couple of weeks.

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore had an awesome week! He also suffered a mild right ankle sprain. X-rays were negative and the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Gore is probable for this week's matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

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

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pre-game 10-10:30 a.m..) and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 2 in the Saturday morning blog!

Gore to play, but how much?

December, 27, 2008
12/27/08
1:32
PM ET
If you're still in the hunt, there's no doubt that this is THE week for you. Make or break. Do or die. Sink or swim. Fortunately for those of you still playing, most NFL teams have more at stake than the Indianapolis Colts, so at least some starters are worth starting. But not everyone will see a full four quarters of action. Teams are still exercising caution when it comes to injured players, and so should you. Here's how things are shaping up for the week to end all fantasy weeks, Week 17.

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: If Barber is one of your fantasy players, you know the drill by now. Yes, this is a must-win game for the Cowboys. But no, Barber did not do anything exceptional in practice this week to give any more confidence that he is approaching full strength. Barber was still a limited participant throughout the week and is listed as questionable. The Dallas Morning News reports that Barber actually split some reps with Tashard Choice when practicing with the first team. This is a sign of progress. Don't let that fool you, though. Coach Wade Phillips has been hinting throughout the week that Barber is clearly not at full speed and has been wondering aloud whether resting him earlier would have had him healthier sooner. The effect of Barber's still-ailing foot is undeniable; he simply has not been able to push off and cut in his normal fashion. He will be a game-time decision again this week, and will likely be in uniform, just as he has been the past couple of weeks. Choice, however, will continue to carry the bulk of the running game, whereas Barber, if he plays, likely will provide only a limited contribution.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Sure, coach Tom Coughlin wants his starters to stay in the rhythm of the game. He certainly does not favor rhythm over long-term availability, though, and in the interest of ensuring that Jacobs does not take a step backward with his knee, he will protect him. Jacobs is listed as questionable, but he did not participate in Friday's practice and looks as if he will see extremely limited time, if any, on Sunday. Derrick Ward will probably see the majority of the action in the run game for the Giants this weekend.

Kevin Boss, TE, Giants: Boss has shaped up to be a decent fantasy tight end option, but don't count on him this week. He is nursing not one but two injuries -- an ankle sprain and a concussion -- and he is listed as doubtful after missing practice all week. Expect the Giants to allow him to sit this one out, as you should on your fantasy team.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers: Gore has missed the past two weeks of your fantasy playoffs with his sprained ankle. This week he is listed as probable, which, as everyone knows by now, means "virtually certain to play." So you're excited if you're a Gore fantasy owner, right? Well, not so fast. Despite the encouraging status upgrade, Gore has been able to practice only on a limited basis, and according to Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Gore's status remains a game-time decision. Maiocco reports that 49ers coach Mike Singletary says he does not want Gore to play if he is not fully healthy, because he does not want Gore to risk reinjury. In fact, Singletary suggests that the fact Gore is near the 1,000-yard mark for the season will not be a factor. Singletary has already proved himself to be a great motivator, and while I do believe he doesn't want a gimpy Gore on the field Sunday, he also knows how much playing in this season finale means to Gore. Singletary no doubt wants to see more evidence before Sunday that Gore is ready to be on the field. I think he will see that in the pregame warm-ups, and there are already some encouraging signs. Maiocco reported that Gore looked good (not great) running Friday but was able to do some cuts in practice (cuts are one of the more challenging skills for an unstable ankle). I expect Gore will earn his opportunity to play Sunday, but there has to be some concern about how much playing time he will see. Singletary has set the stage for some time-sharing with DeShaun Foster, and assuming Gore does play, it will probably be a limited role.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Cardinals: For all the positive projections coach Ken Whisenhunt made earlier in the week about Boldin's Week 17 status, the latter part of the week has taken a different turn. Boldin is again listed as questionable with a sore shoulder, and of most concern, has not participated in practice all week. The Arizona Republic reports that Whisenhunt has said he would like Boldin to see some playing time and that he could play despite not practicing. After last week, the Cardinals need to see some positive play out of their starters heading into the playoffs. But they also need their starters to be available when the playoffs begin. The Cardinals have not issued a specific diagnosis related to Boldin's shoulder, but they have to be concerned enough about his health that he is not taking any reps in practice. Risking Boldin does not make a lot of sense, so even if he does suit up (and he is a game-time decision), he will likely be restricted to limited playing time.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: Lynch is listed as questionable again this week with his sore shoulder and practiced only on a very limited basis. Sure, the Bills are out of playoff contention, but wouldn't it be fun for them to spoil the Patriots' chances? All things considered, it seems as if Lynch, another dreaded game-time decision, will suit up in the team's final effort of the year. Teammate Fred Jackson is likely to get significant opportunities, though, especially after his performance last week. In fact, Jackson may get the heavier workload of the two.

Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints: Thomas has been an amazing find for fantasy owners this year. But the year may end a bit prematurely, as Thomas' status for this week is very much in question. Thomas, officially questionable and a game-time decision, was not able to practice all week. With the Saints out of playoff contention and Thomas nursing two injuries (back and wrist), why would the Saints place at risk the player they may view as their new feature back? According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints will give Thomas a chance Sunday morning to see whether he is able to go, but at this point, the odds are not in his favor. Expect Deuce McAllister and Mike Bell to get the touches if Thomas is out.

Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings: Berrian sprained his ankle in last week's contest against the Falcons, and it has limited his practice all week. He is listed as questionable to face the Giants in a game the Vikings need to win. So what should fantasy owners expect? Well, going back to last week, Berrian was able to continue to play despite the injury, which suggests it is not terribly serious. If past performance is any indicator, remember that while Berrian was recovering from a knee sprain earlier this year, he managed to put up some of his best numbers on the year. It is not surprising that the Vikings gave him some rest during the week, and it will not be surprising if he shows up ready to go Sunday.

Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens: Few performances have been gutsier than the ones Mason has put up in recent weeks. Playing with an unstable left shoulder that gets jostled every time he makes contact with another player or hits the ground, Mason has managed to make more big-time one-handed grabs than other big-name receivers with two healthy arms. The Baltimore Sun reported this week that in addition to the instability in the joint itself, Mason has been dealing with intense muscle spasms around the shoulder. This is not an uncommon side effect; the body does anything it can to try to protect an injured joint, usually in the form of muscle spasm or protective guarding. The spasm, or guarding, serves to compensate for the increased laxity or instability of the joint itself by securing the position of the arm. The problem is that not only are spasms painful, but they also don't allow for normal motion, so use of the injured limb (in this case Mason's arm) is awkward and restricted. This problem is not going to resolve itself before the Ravens' season is over. But it does not appear that it will be a problem that keeps Mason off the field, either. Mason, listed as questionable, has indicated that he expects to play against the Jaguars, and based on what he has done so far this season, he seems to be a man of his word. There is another variable to consider, though. If the Patriots lose to Buffalo in their 1 p.m. game, the Ravens, who play at 4:15, will have secured a playoff spot. Although Mason could still suit up for the game, the Ravens might be inclined to limit his playing time in order to protect him from further injury. Just a thought for fantasy owners out there who may want the insurance of a late-game alternative.

OUT: The following players have already been ruled out for Week 17.

Dominic Rhodes, RB, Colts: It's a matter of making sure he's healthy when it counts. This game doesn't count, so he'll watch from the sidelines. Expect Joseph Addai to play, but not for long. Chad Simpson and Najeh Davenport will likely divvy up the remaining running back duties.

Jeremy Shockey, TE, Saints: Yet another ankle problem sidelines Shockey. His season is over, and Billy Miller will see more playing time as a result.

Good luck in Week 17! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for the pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

The Colts conundrum

December, 24, 2008
12/24/08
6:30
PM ET


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!

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