Stephania Bell: Fred Jackson

Buffalo Bills RB injury update

October, 24, 2013
10/24/13
1:42
PM ET
Fred Jackson sprained his left MCL in Week 4 but managed to play in the Buffalo Bills' following contest against the Cleveland Browns just four days later. Last Sunday, Jackson looked to be in great discomfort at several points during the game after aggravating the injury, but he managed to get through it.

It really should come as no surprise that Jackson was given Wednesday off to rest his knee. He was back at practice Thursday and appears on track for the game against New Orleans this week. The expectation is that Jackson will play Sunday, just as he has every week this season.

The bigger question has to do with Jackson’s counterpart, C.J. Spiller, the running back most projected to have the larger role in the Bills’ running game this year. Instead, injury has limited Spiller’s ability to be productive, and now his coach is wondering aloud whether Spiller should indeed take a breather. Spiller has said for some time that he expected to be dealing with soreness in his ankle up until the bye week (Week 12) but has maintained that his ankle continues to improve in the interim.

His performance would suggest otherwise, likely prompting coach Doug Marrone to consider whether the best thing might be to hold Spiller out for a week (or more). As it is, Spiller did not practice Wednesday and was limited to just individual drills Thursday.

This is always the challenge with in-season injuries. The broken legs are obvious, as are the torn ACLs; certain injuries force an absence. Virtually everything else becomes a matter of how well the player can function while not compromising his long-term health. Compromising health usually refers to the risk of exacerbating an injury to the point where it might cost a player multiple weeks. (Obviously if there were a risk of serious bodily harm by playing, the decision to sit the player is a no-brainer.) Some injuries are described as the type that “can’t be made worse.” Even if the particular structure involved is not likely to deteriorate further or the stability of the joint is not threatened, there is always a risk that an injured player trying to press through pain, weakness or restricted motion will compensate in some way that results in another injury.

But if every player with an ailment were forced to sit until that particular problem was 100 percent healed, there would not be enough players to field a team. Any team. If one were to survey all 32 teams and remove every player dealing with some sort of ailment from the equation, there would likely be fewer on the field than on the sideline, especially at this point of the season.

That brings the discussion around to performance. A player may be feeling better, noting improvement in his range of motion and strength or in more subtle areas like quickness and agility, but he still may not be playing to the level that allows him to be who he is when healthy. Spiller appears to be that guy right now. He can be believed when he says he’s “10 times better” this week, because he no doubt can see -- and feel -- subtle improvements.

But those improvements may not be enough to translate to visible changes in game situations. Consequently, Marrone is also to be believed when he says he sees that Spiller’s ankle is “probably not as well” this week as last. As ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak notes, Spiller even seems to acknowledge that playing each week is likely slowing the overall healing process. That doesn’t mean he agrees with his coach’s assessment.

It is clear Spiller wants to continue to play. But when Marrone says, “We need to make a good decision this week,” it certainly hints at the possibility that Spiller will not get his wish.

Buffalo Bills Thursday injury update

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
12:01
PM ET
The Buffalo Bills travel to Cleveland to play the Browns in this week’s Thursday night matchup. The biggest injury question heading into this game has to do with who will be running the football for the Bills. As it turns out, that question may not be answered until just before kickoff.

Running backs

C.J. Spiller, ankle (questionable), and Fred Jackson, knee (probable): Both backs took hits that left a mark last Sunday; Spiller sprained his left ankle and Jackson sprained his medial collateral ligament (MCL).

Jackson, familiar with the nature of an MCL sprain after suffering a similar injury last season, indicated his ailment this time around was far less serious and that he fully expected to play Thursday night. He seemed to back that up by participating in practice this week, albeit on a limited basis and sporting a brace. While knee braces do not come with a guarantee of preventing injury, they can be particularly helpful with medial ligament sprains. Reinforcements along the inner aspect of the brace can help provide good resistance against medial (valgus) stress, which would bow the knee inward, stressing the MCL. Jackson, listed as “probable,” is expected to play. There don't appear to be any major concerns about him being limited.

Spiller, however, might be a different story. He came into last Sunday’s game with a quad injury, but after practicing in full every day, did not appear to be limited ... until the ankle injury. After spraining his ankle, Spiller carried the ball just two more times and expressed uncertainty as recently as Tuesday about his status for Thursday night. "If I can go, I'll go," Spiller said. "If I can't, I can't." According to ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak, Spiller was still walking with a “heavy limp” after Tuesday’s practice, where he was at least able to do some jogging.

Jogging or not, it’s clear his ankle will not be at full health just four days after suffering the injury. Even if Spiller -- who practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday -- is active, he seems to be in line for less work than usual, particularly if he cannot run effectively. The biggest hint that the Bills are concerned came in the form of adding another running back, practice squad player Ronnie Wingo, to the travel list. Rodak, citing a league source, said Wingo will travel with the team, but the Bills have not yet decided whether to activate him. The Bills also have Tashard Choice, who stepped in last Sunday when both Spiller and Jackson were ailing and could be in line for more action on Thursday. Spiller’s status may come down to pregame warm-up tests to see how his ankle tolerates planting and cutting.

Wide receivers

Steve Johnson, hamstring (probable): Johnson’s presence on the injury report because of his hamstring is nothing new, and he is expected to play Thursday night. Given the short week -- not to mention the tricky nature of hamstring injuries -- Johnson was held to limited practices throughout the week.

To put it mildly, Johnson did not have his best outing last Sunday (one reception for a 1-yard loss on six targets), perhaps due in part to not physically being at his best. He dealt with a hamstring injury in the preseason as well, pulling up while running a route just days into training camp. A sore hamstring can be a receiver’s nemesis, making it difficult to get an edge on separation or limiting vertical range. This week, Johnson goes go toe-to-toe with Browns cornerback Joe Haden, which doesn’t make things any easier.
Jackson-SpillerAP Photo, Getty ImagesBoth Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are dealing with injuries heading in the Bills' Thursday night game.
Here's a look at some key injuries in the fantasy football world that we'll be following ahead of Week 5 of the NFL season.

C.J. Spiller (ankle) and Fred Jackson (knee), RBs, Buffalo Bills: Spiller came into the Week 4 contest fresh off a quad injury but practiced daily leading up to the game, hinting at a swift recovery. By the second half of Sunday’s game, however, Spiller had another ailment. With the Bills’ next contest slated for Thursday, just four days later, Spiller is now dealing with an ankle injury and sat out practice Monday.

Spiller has indicated that he hopes to play in Week 5, not an unreasonable possibility given that he returned to Sunday’s game after the injury. However, the short turnaround doesn't allow much recovery time, and even Spiller said he’d like to get to 80-85 percent to be well enough to play. It begs the question as to just how much fantasy owners can expect from what will certainly be a less-than-fully-healthy Spiller, if he takes the field. “The last two games I haven’t even completed a half,” Spiller noted, according to the Bills’ official website.

As for Jackson, he sustained a sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee. This is not a first for Jackson, who suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in the same knee last December and ended up missing the Bills’ final three games. "I sprained my MCL again, but it's not as significant [as in the past]," Jackson said. He did practice on a limited basis Monday and expects to be ready to go by Thursday night. Both running backs will enter Thursday’s game at less than 100 percent and on short rest, not an ideal scenario.

Darren McFadden (hamstring) and Marcel Reece (knee), RBs, Oakland Raiders: Another team, another tandem of running backs impacted by injury. McFadden injured his hamstring in the first half of Sunday’s game and the sight of him in street clothes in the second half made it clear he would not return. Reece injured his knee in the same game, but a subsequent MRI indicated his is a non-surgical situation. Coach Dennis Allen has not given any hints as to whether he expects either or both backs to be available this week, saying it’s “too early to speculate.” That won’t stop fantasy owners from speculating about the possible scenarios they’ll have to contend with if both RBs sit out, which includes the prospect of Rashad Jennings taking the lead.

Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins (ribs): Morris gingerly exited the field Sunday and looked to be in a fair amount of discomfort on the sideline. The injury was reported as a rib contusion and Morris did not return. X-rays were reportedly negative but even the absence of a fracture does not necessarily diminish the pain associated with a bruising shot to the ribs. Morris admitted to being “a little tender,” and perhaps the greatest point in his favor is that the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. Given his level of discomfort, he very well could have been forced to sit this week out. Expect little in the way of updates on Morris over the next seven days, as the primary focus for him is likely to be rest. Look for news once pregame practices and injury reports resume for the Redskins in advance of Week 6.

Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets (hamstring): Holmes has been a little slow to get started this season in his return from Lisfranc surgery, and it’s going to get even slower. Holmes injured his hamstring in Sunday’s game and it looks as if it’s going to sideline him for an extended period. ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini reports the Jets will sign veteran wide receiver David Nelson in anticipation of Holmes missing extended time.
Week 14 is in the books. Unfortunately for those of you still playing meaningful games this fantasy football season, your player options may have decreased yet again as more players were lost to injury.

The biggest injury news of the weekend centers on one Robert Griffin III, the exciting rookie quarterback for the Washington Redskins. He suffered a knee injury in Sunday's game while making one of his signature scrambles. The video of Griffin's leg whipping through the air looked frighteningly violent, causing many to fear he had suffered a significant injury. Fortunately, that was not the case. On Monday, Griffin underwent an MRI, which revealed his injury to be a Grade 1 lateral collateral ligament (LCL) sprain. Coach Mike Shanahan informed reporters of the injury, noting that Griffin's ACL, which he had surgically reconstructed in 2009, looked "great." Shanahan said Griffin will be evaluated "day by day," and the team is hopeful his knee will improve quickly with rehab.

As for the nature of Griffin's injury, given the mechanism of the hit, it's not surprising that he sustained an injury to the LCL, the outer-most primary stabilizing ligament of the knee. He took a hit to the body and thigh from Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as he was in the process of falling, with his right leg whipping forward. The blow resulted in an abrupt stop to the forward momentum of his thigh, but the lower leg continued on its trajectory, snapping to a hard stop when the soft tissue restraints that guard the movement became taut. Perhaps Griffin is most fortunate that his leg was in the air when this happened. Had he absorbed a similar blow with his foot planted, the consequences would likely have been far worse.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Doug Kapustin/MCT/Getty ImagesRobert Griffin III's knee wrapped around the back of Ravens DT Haloti Ngata during the hit.
The LCL can be injured when an athlete takes a blow to the inside of the knee; it also can be injured during a hyperextension or rotational injury. Griffin's knee was extending and slightly rotating at the same time he encountered the blow to his thigh. The biggest concern with these injuries is damage to any surrounding structures on the lateral and particularly the posterolateral aspect (the back outside corner) of the knee. Structures in this area that lie close to the LCL help control stability in that quadrant of the knee, an area that is subject to high biomechanical forces during normal movement. Any lingering instability can be threatening to the overall health of the knee. The best news in Griffin's case is that this sprain is of the most minor (Grade 1) variety.

An isolated minor sprain has a good chance of healing with restricted motion (via bracing) and rest to protect the ligament. Griffin also will engage in rehab to help with pain and swelling while restoring normal joint mobility. The criteria for his return will include his ability to demonstrate that he can perform at his position without significant compromise and without increasing the risk of more substantial injury. As a running quarterback, he will not be encouraged to return if he cannot run, change direction or decelerate normally. Beyond this aspect of his game being part of his DNA as a quarterback, a player who is thinking about accommodating his style of play to avoid injury suddenly becomes more of an injury risk, not to mention he's often less effective.



Shanahan says they will see how Griffin looks Wednesday but indicated that as of now, no decision has been made as to who will be the starting quarterback Sunday. It would not be surprising if Griffin is forced to sit out, given the rationale noted above. It's also worth remembering that everyone heals at different rates, and no two injuries are identical. And as the Redskins are no doubt appreciating this week, Griffin's case also serves as a reminder that no matter how nasty an injury looks at first glance on video, it may not always be indicative of how severe the injury actually is.

Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey announced Monday that running back Fred Jackson is done for the season and has been placed on IR. Jackson suffered a Grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee Sunday. Gailey noted that the recovery timetable for Jackson's injury is likely closer to 4-5 weeks, longer than the time left in the regular season. This is the same knee he injured in Week 1 when he sustained an LCL sprain and missed two weeks -- hmm, maybe RG III should chat with Jackson about what he did to return from that injury -- and this is also the same leg in which Jackson suffered a fractured fibula which prematurely ended his 2011 campaign.

With regard to his latest injury, Jackson shared the following thoughts with ESPN's Josina Anderson: "Technically it's a tear off the bone, because you tear the ligament away from the bone. So that's why some people say it's a tear, but the ligament itself is intact. It's just pulled away from the bone a little." We're sorry to see his second season in a row ended by an injury after playing all 16 games in each of the three previous seasons. In the meantime, C.J. Spiller will undoubtedly get a bump in his workload.

• Tight end Jared Cook of the Tennessee Titans also has played his last game of the 2012 season. Cook left Sunday's game with a right shoulder injury. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean later reported that Cook had torn his rotator cuff and is done for the year. Cook had a left shoulder injury early in the season, an AC sprain which had him in a sling briefly, but he did not miss a game. Unfortunately, he will now miss the rest of the season, and coach Mike Munchak indicated that Cook will be placed on IR.

• Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe suffered broken ribs in Sunday's game and already has been ruled out for Sunday's game, according to the Kansas City Star. He may, in fact, be done for the season. The Star suggests that it also could signal the end of his time with the Chiefs.

As we head into Week 15 ...

[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
AP Photo/Sharon EllmanDez Bryant's status for Sunday is not yet known.
• Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant suffered a fractured index finger in his left hand Sunday, an injury that could end his season. According to ESPN's Ed Werder, Bryant has met with a hand specialist. The decision comes down to whether Bryant requires surgery now, or whether this is an issue he can play through, allowing him to postpone the surgery. While a broken finger might not sound like the worst injury in the world, the reality is that a resultant deformity or lack of normal motion could impact a receiver permanently. This is not insignificant, which probably is the reason there has been no official decision made as of this writing.

• Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was again forced to leave a game early, this time because of a neck injury. Speaking on his weekly radio show on ESPN1000 Monday, Cutler described his neck as "stiff" and said he was "getting spasms" during the game. He is currently receiving treatment and said he expects to be able to play this week, "unless something drastic happens."

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was in and out of Sunday's game because of a left knee injury. Coach Tom Coughlin said Bradshaw underwent an MRI and other tests Monday, but there has been no word yet as to the results. When Bradshaw injured his neck early in the season, the results of his tests were not immediately shared either. It was Bradshaw who later indicated he had an "inflamed disc" in his neck. Perhaps he will share an update on his knee later this week. In any event, don't expect Bradshaw to practice Wednesday since he usually sits out. Barring the emergence of definitive information to rule him out, Bradshaw's status could once again come down to a late-week decision.

• Concussions have forced the absence of several key players for the Philadelphia Eagles for a few weeks, and now they can add tight end Brent Celek to the list. Celek suffered a concussion during Sunday's game and will not play Thursday night. As for the health of quarterback Michael Vick and running back LeSean McCoy, it appears both are making progress. Both are engaging to a limited degree in practice, and according to Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder, Vick is now in the final phase (Phase 5) of the Eagles' concussion recovery protocol. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports neither is likely to play Thursday despite not officially being listed as "out" yet by the Eagles. Both players still need to be cleared by an independent neurologist and both need to re-introduce contact. Burkholder has implemented a mandatory 24-hour waiting period to monitor whether symptoms recur after advancing within the protocol. Given the short week, it's likely that both will miss another game, though if all progresses well, both could be available in Week 16 (although in Vick's case it will be in a backup role, as Nick Foles has been named the starter going forward).

• Despite re-aggravating his ankle injury in last week's game, Raiders running back Darren McFadden was in practice Monday and moving well, according to Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times. He appears on track to play this weekend.

• Coach Mike McCarthy has hope that Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson will return from his injured hamstring this week. Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports McCarthy says Nelson is improving. That may be, but we know the true test comes with full-speed running. Keep an eye on practice reports this week to gauge Nelson's progress, but right now it's too early to realistically project his return. Remember this is the recurrence of a prior hamstring injury for Nelson, so it would not be surprising if the team is cautious.

• As the Florida Times-Union reported, coach Mike Mularkey was not available for his usual Monday news conference due to illness, so there was no update on the status of running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) or wide receiver Cecil Shorts (concussion).



This is an unusual week with three games taking place on Thursday because of Thanksgiving. Six teams are dealing with the challenge of recovery in a four-day window as we move into Week 12.



Houston Texans at Detroit Lions

Out

Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions (not injury related, knee): Young was sent home from the Lions' facility at the start of the week by coach Jim Schwartz for "repeated selfish behavior," according to the Detroit Free Press. He has been on the injury report because of his knee for several weeks now but that seems to have improved. Now he needs to work on his attitude.

Other injuries

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans (hamstring): Tate has missed several games because of injuries to his toe and his hamstring. In late October coach Gary Kubiak indicated it would be a while before Tate would be ready to return to game action. Three weeks later and he has yet to return. Initially, Kubiak said Tate had "a good chance" for that return to happen Thursday, but after not participating Tuesday, his status remains unclear. The Texans' official website indicates he will be a game-time decision, but given he's been out for nearly a month, it's hard to count on Tate even if he does go.

Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans (back): Daniels was active last Sunday even though his back was not 100 percent recovered. The hope is that a light practice week helps move him along further. Daniels is expected to play again Thursday.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (knee/thumb): Johnson has been on a limited practice regimen for weeks, and the pattern continues. His productivity has increased over the past couple of weeks as well with Johnson seeing the end zone in each of the past two games. Fantasy owners hope that pattern continues.

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys

Out

Brandon Meriweather, S, Washington Redskins (knee): It's a very tough break for Meriweather, who in his first game of the season (he had missed time because of problems with his left knee) tore his right ACL. He has been placed on injured reserve.

Other injuries

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins (foot): Garcon returned to action last week and was able to emerge from that game no worse for the wear. His contribution from a fantasy perspective was invisible, but head coach Mike Shanahan insists Garcon's presence on the field represents a big-play threat. Right now, that threat may be limited as Garcon tries to play through an injury that is not truly healed. The combination of extended rest, treatment and a shoe insert to support his damaged toe did allow him to get through his first game in weeks without incident. Shanahan notes that the turf in Cowboys Stadium may present an additional challenge for Garcon's sensitive foot, however, making his status questionable for Thursday. He is expected to test his toe pregame before a final decision is made.

DeMarco Murray (foot) and Felix Jones (knee), RB, Dallas Cowboys: Murray is still limited to working on the side and has not resumed practicing with the team. Last week we said a return Thursday would be unlikely and that remains the case. The week to watch will be Week 13 as Murray will have had an additional 10 days to increase his workload. Meanwhile, Jones was out of practice Tuesday after injuring his knee last Sunday. This is not the same knee that has been bothering him for weeks. As coach Jason Garrett told the Dallas Morning News, "He was dealing with a knee going into last week and hurt his other knee in the ballgame." The Cowboys are taking it day by day -- as if there is any other choice -- and will have to wait to see if Jones will be well enough to take the field Thursday. Otherwise, Lance Dunbar could be in line to start for the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Kevin Ogletree, WR, Dallas Cowboys (concussion): Ogletree suffered a concussion in Week 11 and has not practiced so far this week. His status for Thursday appears to be in doubt.

New England Patriots at New York Jets

[+] EnlargeRob Gronkowski
AP/Michael DwyerPatriots tight end Rob Gronkowski won't be doing any spiking for a while.
Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), TE, New England Patriots: Gronkowski is not listed yet as "out," but after undergoing surgery Monday to repair a fractured left forearm, it is safe to say we won't be seeing him. The team has not confirmed which bone was broken (there are two in the forearm, the radius and the ulna, and either one or both can be fractured, depending on the mechanism), although the ulna -- which runs from the elbow towards the fifth (pinkie) finger -- is most vulnerable and most commonly broken on blocking plays in football. Assuming the fracture was not comminuted (multiple pieces) and did not involve the joint but was limited to the shaft of the bone itself, repair is fairly straightforward. Surgical stabilization with a plate is typically done to help facilitate the healing process and then the bone does the rest. It bears repeating that bone tends to heal well in an otherwise healthy individual and the timetable is generally consistent (approximately six weeks). Clearance for contact requires evidence of callus formation on imaging (a sign the bone is repairing itself, which is usually evident around four weeks, give or take) and players can return with a protective shell around the forearm as long as it is wrapped and padded. Gronkowski will be able to maintain his aerobic conditioning and, if the wrist is not involved, he can begin to work with the wrist and hand shortly. Contact is the last element permitted and it all depends on the healing status of the bone. If all goes well (and if Gronkowski's injury is of the least complicated variety as described above), a return within four weeks is not out of the question. Additional time could be required depending on the healing process.

Meanwhile, Hernandez appears on track to return Thursday after continuing his limited participation in practice. Hernandez has not taken the field since the last time the Patriots faced the Jets in Week 7, and with Gronkowski sidelined, his return will be welcomed. As to how much the team looks to him in his first game back since exiting for the second time because of his ankle, it remains to be seen.

Wes Welker (ankle) and Brandon Lloyd (knee), WR, New England Patriots: Both receivers are expected to play Thursday just as they did Sunday despite their presence on the injury report. Their limitation in practice early this week is to be expected given the short turnaround between games.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets (hamstring/heel): Kerley was on the injury report last week with these ailments and despite his very questionable status, he was active. His productivity was limited and his practice so far this week has been limited as well. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Kerley has soreness as a result of his game play Sunday and he will be a game-time decision for Thursday night.

Beyond Thursday

Concussions

This is also a week where a large number of players are on the injury report because of concussions. As is the case with all concussions, there is no ability to predict the exact timetable for recovery. Even players who make progress during the week may not meet all the necessary criteria to be cleared to play in a game. Just ask San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who suffered a concussion in Week 10, returned to limited practice during the week but was not cleared to play for a Monday night game. Two other starting quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Michael Vick, also were sidelined this past week because of concussion. Not one is a lock to play in Week 12; the teams maintain, properly, that their status is day-to-day. In addition to the quarterbacks, several other key fantasy players have recently suffered concussions. Their status is also in question for Week 12. While it is not possible to guarantee when any of the concussed players will return, they are listed below as a means of reminding fantasy owners who they need to keep an eye on as game day approaches.

[+] EnlargeLeSean McCoy
AP Photo/Brian GarfinkelThis is definitely not what LeSean McCoy owners or Eagles fans wanted to see.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: McCoy suffered a concussion late in Sunday's game. While the Eagles' Monday night appearance will grant him an extra day to recover, he still must complete all of the necessary requirements before he can return to game play. Fantasy owners may want to secure Bryce Brown.



Donnie Avery, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Avery was among those suffering concussion injuries Sunday. He'll be one more to monitor throughout the week.

Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills: Jackson is reportedly feeling better this week and so far is on track to return to play. Coach Chan Gailey told the Bills' official website that Jackson was going through the final phases of the concussion protocol. He practiced Wednesday and is cleared to play Sunday. After C.J. Spiller's impressive performance last Thursday night while Jackson was out with the injury, it's not clear how the load would be divided this week.



Isaac Redman, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers' running back corps cannot seem to get through a week without being dealt an injury blow. This week it was Redman who was the victim, suffering a concussion against the Ravens. According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic about Redman's chances for this week. We will see.

Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens: Pitta suffered a concussion early in Sunday's game against the Steelers but on an encouraging note, his symptoms reportedly subsided quickly. Count him among the many who will be going through a battery of tests this week.



More injuries to watch

Running Backs:

Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints (hand): Sproles didn't play last week but he was very close. Close enough in fact, to have traveled with the team to Oakland and been a game-time decision. The Saints held him out because of persistent swelling in his left hand on which he had surgery three weeks earlier to repair a fracture. He did practice fully leading up to the game and assuming he does so again this week and that the swelling is down, you have to like his chances of participating Sunday.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (knee): McGahee knows a thing or two about knee injuries, but his instincts were a little off last weekend. McGahee thought the injury he suffered in Sunday's game wasn't serious but as it turns out, it was serious enough to end his regular season. McGahee suffered a torn MCL and a compression fracture in his right knee, according to the Denver Post. He is non-weightbearing on crutches and will have to patiently wait for his body to heal. The Broncos placed on injured reserve/designated to return, meaning he would be able for the postseason.



Wide Receivers:

[+] EnlargeJulio Jones
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireJulio Jones was already a game-time decision heading into last week, and could be even more of a question mark this week.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (ankle): Jones lobbied to play Sunday despite not being able to practice all week with his injured ankle. He managed three receptions before aggravating the ankle and exiting early. The question is just how much of a setback Jones suffered and will he be able to overcome it to play again this Sunday? Until the Falcons issue practice reports this week, there won't be any indication as to how much activity he can do, but there might be more resistance to playing Jones this week if he cannot participate.



Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (neck): Bowe injured his neck in Sunday's game and his status for this week is uncertain. Coach Romeo Crennel would not rule him out just yet according to the Kansas City Star, but he also offered no details on the injury or any assurances Bowe would play. As of now that gives fantasy owners very little to go on other than making sure to have a plug-in for Bowe this week.

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (knee): After missing more than a month with a fractured bone in his right hand, Jeffrey returned to action this week only to injure his knee. He is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Wednesday and Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports he is projected to miss anywhere from two to four weeks. Players often have to combat the return of swelling as they are reintroduced to football activity following even a minor scope (see: Donald Brown) so consider four weeks a more realistic timeframe.

Quick Hits


Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin had the bye week to rest his sprained ankle after sitting out Week 10 but is still dealing with soreness. Only two weeks removed from a sprain that Harvin described as being "in three places," residual soreness is not unusual. According to 1500ESPN.com, coach Leslie Frazier said the swelling is mostly resolved and he hopes to get Harvin back in practice Wednesday. Harvin's activity level by the end of the week will go a long way in determining the confidence level for him to not only play but stay in the game this Sunday against the Bears. There's no doubting Harvin's toughness (he has played through ankle injuries and performed well in the past) but it's a matter of functionality (can he run, stop sharply, cut, pivot) and risk of re-injury. After all, Falcons receiver Julio Jones was convincing enough to get in the game last week despite his ankle injury but was forced out early after aggravating it while playing.
Addendum: Harvin was not able to practice Wednesday generating a little more cause for concern related to his status for Sunday.

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was a participant in practice Monday. There was no extensive explanation of Bradshaw's test results performed during the bye week after his neck was a problem for him again in Week 10 (Bradshaw experienced neck-related symptoms in Week 2 and was later diagnosed with a bulging disc in his neck). According to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger, he confirmed that he had repeat X-rays of his neck that came back "clean." It's not necessarily surprising that X-rays would be unremarkable; there is likely more to his clinical scenario than is being shared. In any case, his presence in practice has to be taken as an encouraging sign because he was obviously cleared to be there. Don't be surprised if Bradshaw is granted some of his usual down time during the week but as of yet, there is nothing to suggest he is in danger of sitting in Week 12.

[+] EnlargeBeanie Wells
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesBeanie Wells is taking advantage of the new rule that allows certain players to return after being placed on injured reserve.
Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells will be activated this week, according to the team's official website. Wells was placed on the injured reserve/designated for return list when he suffered a turf toe injury earlier this year. Wells is expected to play Sunday when the Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams. As noted last week, Wells has been practicing with the team and is eager to return to play. The Cardinals have to be hoping he can proceed without issue through the remainder of the season. While his toe may not be perfect, his legs should be fresh given that he has not seen game action (and therefore contact) since Week 3.

• Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger (sternoclavicular joint/first rib) and Byron Leftwich (multiple rib fractures) are incapacitated this week. Roethlisberger was injured a week ago Monday and while his injury was serious (and undoubtedly excruciatingly painful), it was not necessarily a season-ender. In fact, if his healing progresses well, it's conceivable that Roethlisberger could rejoin the team in December. Leftwich, filling in for Roethlisberger in Week 11, sustained multiple broken ribs and will not be under center this Sunday. The starting quarterback for the Steelers in Week 12 will be Charlie Batch.

• Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola left Sunday's game briefly after appearing to injure his foot. He did return to finish the game but was reportedly seen limping afterward. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, coach Jeff Fisher expressed some concern about Amendola, given his soreness in what is being called a foot/heel injury. His practice status will be something to monitor throughout the week. Amendola has proven to be so talented when on the field but the injuries seem to keep piling up.

• Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown is making progress from the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 9. He has not yet been ruled out for Sunday's game and it remains to be seen whether he can ramp up to full practice this week. A big test will be whether Brown can pivot and break to the inside, a movement that stresses the injured region of the ankle. With Jerricho Cotchery out with rib fractures, the Steelers have signed receiver Plaxico Burress. This team started the season off with a running back carousel as a result of injuries; it now seems like the quarterbacks and receivers are following suit.

Oakland Raiders running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson were both absent in Week 11 because of their respective high ankle sprains. Goodson has not done much outside of his regular rehab work. McFadden did test the ankle running last week so it will be interesting to see if he can increase his activity level and return to practice. Even if McFadden isn't quite ready to return Sunday against the Bengals it sounds as if he may not be too far off.

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew suggested he was a couple of weeks from returning last week. In other words don't expect him this Sunday, something coach Mike Mularkey echoed on the Jaguars' official website.

Dolphins-Bills injury report

November, 15, 2012
11/15/12
10:59
AM ET


After a week in which concussions were in the injury spotlight, one of the players affected has been ruled out for Thursday night's game. Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson will not play against the Miami Dolphins. Jackson was injured late in Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, and the Bills had already ruled him out for Week 11 by Monday. As is the case with these injuries, there is no ability to project when Jackson will return to play. One day at a time.

In the meantime, here are three other players who might be of interest on Thursday night.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills, shoulder (P): Spiller's shoulder injury dates back to Week 3. At the time, the injury appeared serious and Spiller was even carted to the locker room. It turned out to be less severe than originally thought (a sprained left AC joint) and Spiller was able to make it back to play the following week. Given the combination of injuries to Spiller and Jackson, the two have found themselves in a time-share situation. Until now. With Jackson out, head coach Chan Gailey has already indicated Spiller will get "lots of opportunities this week," according to the Bills' official website. Gailey noted they are not afraid to have Spiller carry the ball 25 to 30 times, if that's what it takes to win. Spiller's shoulder injury appears to be largely a thing of the past, but the Bills continue to list him on the injury report (as probable), perhaps as a result of their league-office fine earlier this season for failure to disclose defensive end Mario Williams' wrist injury. Expect Spiller to get plenty of action tonight.

Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins, knee (P): Hartline has been on the injury report for the past couple of weeks, initially with a groin injury but now listed because of a knee ailment. He has not missed any time, however, and in the first game after appearing on the injury report, he racked up his third-highest yardage total of the season. The probable tag indicates his status is not in doubt for Thursday's game and there is no reason to think he'll be limited.

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Miami Dolphins, knee (Q): Despite the questionable tag, Gaffney is expected to play, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Gaffney has only been with the team since October and has had limited contributions thus far. Nonetheless, it appears he will be available Thursday night, although it would be wise to check the pregame inactive report.



Week 3 is in the books! What a week for injuries. Several players suffered season-ending injuries, including New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who tore his left ACL and is expected to undergo season-ending surgery within the next few weeks. The Dallas Cowboys lost defensive back Barry Church to a torn right Achilles tendon. And Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie, who was making his season debut after a delayed start because of concussion, suffered a season-ending patellar tendon rupture. Given Collie's extensive and serious injury history, his future in the NFL appears uncertain. As for the slate of other injuries, here's what we're looking at to start the week.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (leg): Stafford told the Detroit Free Press after Sunday's game that he felt a pull in his hamstring or glute area and he just couldn't run at full power, hence his fourth-quarter exit. He also indicated this was something he'd felt earlier in the week during practice and then it flared up during the game. He was scheduled for an MRI on Monday, but there has been little in the way of specifics since. As is his routine, head coach Jim Schwartz offered nothing substantial, but he did tell reporters he would make a decision about Stafford's status by Friday.

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (ear): This might be a first, listing "ear" as the injured body part. Schaub took a vicious hit that knocked his helmet off, and he immediately grabbed the side of his head. The reason, it turned out, was the helmet took a piece of his left ear with it when it sailed off his head. Schaub, remarkably, missed only one play. He also visited the locker room in the third quarter for X-rays on his left shoulder (which obviously came back negative). Bruised but not broken, Schaub was back in practice Monday, according to the Texans' official website. Looks like it will be business as usual come Sunday.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeC.J. Spiller
AP Photo/Tony DejakC.J. Spiller had been putting up big numbers all season long before injuring his shoulder on Sunday.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (shoulder): Spiller went down hard on his left shoulder under the weight of his tackler and was in immediate visible pain. The two most common results from having the point of the shoulder driven into the turf are a broken clavicle (collarbone) (see: Ryan Mathews) or a sprained acromioclavicular (AC) joint, the joint where the tip of the shoulder blade or acromion (A) and the clavicle (C) meet. The AC joint is bound together by several ligaments; any ligamentous injury is a sprain, but if the sprain is severe enough to allow the bones to move apart, the injury is often referred to as a separated shoulder. In Spiller's case, the mechanism of injury combined with his response suggested something serious. It appears, however, that that is not the case.

The Bills have not formally declared the nature of Spiller's injury, referring to it only as his shoulder. During an appearance on "The Fred Jackson Show" in Buffalo on Monday night, Spiller said when asked what the injury was being called, "I'm not sure yet." Spiller noted that he had undergone several tests but, most importantly, commented on how much improvement there had been in just over 24 hours. "Actually, I'm very surprised the movement that we have in it," Spiller said. "I got the full range of motion, which is really weird when you have an injury like I do."

Spiller remained guarded about his availability for Week 4. "I definitely want to get out there, but we also want to be smart about it." According to the Buffalo News, head coach Chan Gailey said Spiller was unlikely to play but added the Bills were "not going to completely rule him out."

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (knee): Bush left Sunday's game against the Jets in the first half with a left knee injury. He was seen limping slightly, then riding the stationary bike later. Bush, who has an injury history that includes a sprained PCL, a torn meniscus, a fractured fibula (the latter to his right leg) and several arthroscopic knee surgeries, underwent an MRI on Monday to assess the damage. The good news is that there was no major damage to report, and Bush has not yet been ruled out for Week 4. Until he gets through some practice reps, he is not a lock to play, but this is certainly more encouraging than initially thought. Unfortunately, there is a potential cumulative toll of these injuries on Bush's knee health over the long haul.



Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (ribs): McGahee left Sunday's game against the Texans because of a rib injury. On Monday, the Denver Post reported McGahee's status as day-to-day according to head coach John Fox. Fox also indicated McGahee's injury involved the rib cartilage (which connects the ribs to the sternum). From a pain perspective, there isn't much difference. The ribs themselves can fracture, but the cartilage can also crack if the damage is significant enough. There are also numerous small muscles in the rib cage that can cause pain if bruised or torn. The problem with all of these injuries is they are often slow to completely heal, but the decision to play typically comes down to whether a player can perform in the presence of pain or not.



Wide Receivers

Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys (rib): Austin left Sunday's game in the fourth quarter to get X-rays on his ribs. Clearly the results were negative since he returned to the game shortly thereafter and continued to add to his fantasy numbers. No one was talking about his hamstring or ribs after he posted more than 100 yards.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders (concussion/neck): The sight of any player lying motionless on the ground, then being spine boarded and transported to a hospital for evaluation, is frightening. The best news possible came the next day when it was announced that Heyward-Bey had been released from the hospital after suffering a neck strain and a concussion and that he is expected to make a full recovery. No fracture, no spinal cord injury. And no talk of football right now. As is the case with all athletes who sustain head injuries, Heyward Bey's progress will be monitored closely and his activity will be increased on a gradual basis.

Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs (elbow): McCluster landed awkwardly on an outstretched arm and his elbow appeared to buckle. He was in obvious pain and the medical staff tended to him briefly on the field before escorting him off. After the game, the Kansas City Star noted McCluster was in a sling, but the Chiefs have not offered a specific injury update since then. McCluster had been on the injury report the previous week with a shoulder injury. It would not be a surprise if he ends up missing at least this week.

Tight Ends

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (shoulder): Cook injured his shoulder late in the first half and it was reported by The Tennessean to be an AC sprain (see: C.J. Spiller note). Cook was in a sling following the game, but the Titans sound as if they expect him to be available in Week 4. Still, he'll need to show in practice that he can get his arm sufficiently elevated and absorb some contact through that side in order to play.

We're keeping an eye on

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants (neck): Bradshaw missed Week 3 with a neck injury and the team offered no details as to the specifics, including how much time he might miss. After visiting with team doctors Monday, however, Bradshaw, who had just received clearance to return to practice, tweeted the following: "Great news! Thanks everyone for ur thoughts and prayers. But u dnt understand, I'm Ready to rock #bigblue #health." Bradshaw's level of activity in practice this week should offer clues as to his readiness to return to play. Of course, teammate Andre Brown filled in admirably during Bradshaw's absence and he won't disappear completely when Bradshaw returns.

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireFred Jackson might be able to return just in time to replace injured backfield mate C.J. Spiller.
Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills (knee): Jackson has made progress more quickly than anyone anticipated and looks as if he will return to practice this week. Shortly after suffering a sprained LCL, Jackson targeted the game against the Patriots in Week 4 as a return date. Now it's possible he may actually reach that goal. Jackson gave himself a "70-75 percent chance" of playing this Sunday, although even if he does return, the likelihood would be that he yields some of the work, perhaps to Tashard Choice if Spiller is out.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears (ankle): According to the Chicago Tribune, coach Lovie Smith says "hopefully" Forte will return to practice this week. That's still quite a ways removed from returning to play. The Bears are also working out running back Ryan Grant on Tuesday, according to ESPN Chicago.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): After sitting out Week 3 because of a hip injury, Maclin is expected to return to practice this week and be available Sunday.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (foot): Nicks missed the Thursday night game in Week 3 because of soreness in his surgically repaired foot. After the extra rest, he is expected to return in Week 4.



Week 2 is in the books. This week there was a new set of players added to the injury list as well as a few carryovers from Week 1. Here's what we're looking at to start the week.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesThe short week will make it tough for fantasy owners and the Giants to decide whether Ahmad Bradshaw can play Thursday.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (neck): Bradshaw left Sunday's game early with a neck injury. He had X-rays taken at the game facility, and early reports were only that Bradshaw had suffered a neck sprain, relatively vague terminology but suggestive of a soft tissue injury. Bradshaw did return to the sidelines and watched the remainder of the game from that vantage point, cheering on his teammates and not appearing to be in any particular distress. He had an MRI scheduled Monday in New York and was listed as a non-participant in practice. (It's worth noting that the team conducted only a walk-through in advance of a Thursday game, but for reporting purposes, Bradshaw would not have participated had it been a regular practice.)

On Tuesday, coach Tom Coughlin did not elaborate on Bradshaw's injury, other than to say he is holding out hope he can play Thursday.

With the Giants having only four days between games this week, Bradshaw's status is clearly in question. The Giants have been very effective in managing the practice time of some of their key players during the week (e.g., Hakeem Nicks this past week and Bradshaw much of the second half of last season) so they can play on Sunday. The issue this week is whether there will have been enough recovery between games to allow Bradshaw to safely participate.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (groin): When Jackson was suddenly out of Sunday's game and the last thing anyone saw was him spiking a ball, there was a question as to whether there was a message being sent. Not so. Shortly after the game, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said during a Sirius XM radio interview that Jackson had injured his groin. That was later confirmed by coach Jeff Fisher, who noted Jackson had a strained groin, which was the reason for his absence. In fact, Fisher told reporters Jackson could have returned if Daryl Richardson, who replaced Jackson, had struggled. Clearly, Richardson held his own and Jackson did not return.

As to what to expect from Jackson this week, it is too soon to know. He has dealt with groin injuries in the past that have caused him to miss time. While this did not have the initial appearance of anything serious (after all, no one even saw it happen, and if hadn't sat out the remainder of the game, there would have been no question), it is often not until players test these ailments that we get an idea of how much an injury will limit them. Late-week practice should provide further clues but it might be wise to secure a backup (Richardson, perhaps?) just in case.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (knee): Charles was not involved much in the second half of Sunday's game, which prompted the question as to whether he was injured or just resting. It sounds like a little of both.

The Kansas City Star reports Charles had soreness in his surgically reconstructed knee and the thought was that it was better to rest him the remainder of the game rather than expose him to further risk. It does not appear to have been anything serious, and the early rest in Week 2 might prove helpful in protecting the health of his knee. It sounds as if the Chiefs are expecting him to return in Week 3.



Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers (foot): Dwyer was listed on last week's injury report because of his foot but was expected to play and did. Now the Beaver County Times reports Dwyer has a turf toe injury, which might explain his limited production in Week 2. After all, coach Mike Tomlin had indicated after the season opener that Dwyer had earned a bigger opportunity. With Rashard Mendenhall returning to pads in practice this week, the running back situation becomes more complex in Pittsburgh. It seems likely the Steelers will hold Mendenhall out until after their early bye week, though, to allow him some more time to adapt to the increased activity.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (knee): Jackson obviously did not play in Week 2 after suffering a sprained LCL in the season opener. After a week of rehabilitation and recovery, Jackson received some positive news. It appears he is going to be able to begin some light running in a brace this week, and, according to the Buffalo News, Jackson expects to return on the shorter end of his projected timetable. "The doc said that it's coming along, that at this rate it wouldn't be the full eight weeks," Jackson said. "Like I said before, I wanted to be back in four weeks, and he said that was a definite possibility and it will happen as long as we don't hit a snag anywhere."



Wide Receivers

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): Maclin was questionable heading into Week 2 with a hip injury, was active for the game, then left early because of the same hip. Now he'll be a bigger question mark heading into Week 3. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, coach Andy Reid called Maclin "day-to-day." The Inquirer also noted that after the game, Maclin described this injury as more serious than the first. That doesn't bode well for him, considering Friday was his only day of practice last week. If he is unable to practice at all, he will be a big question mark.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (foot): Seeing Nicks limping during Sunday's game had some fantasy owners panicking, despite his stellar performance. It turns out Nicks had his foot stepped on during the game and he was understandably experiencing some additional soreness. Nicks has been playing in the presence of some residual soreness since undergoing foot surgery this summer, but Sunday he showed he was returning to football shape.



Although he was listed as a non-participant for Monday's practice, he is expected to play Thursday night.

Tight Ends

[+] EnlargeAaron Hernandez
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaAaron Hernandez will be out at least a few weeks with an ankle injury.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots (ankle): AFC East blogger James Walker reports Hernandez is expected to miss a few weeks as a result of the injury to his right ankle. He has already been ruled out for Week 3, and while a definitive timetable has not been established, according to Walker, a source says Hernandez will not return before October. Tuesday's signing of veteran tight end Kellen Winslow adds support to the notion that he will miss multiple weeks. In other words, October is upon us in two weeks, but there is no reason to think the source was referencing early October.

The Patriots have not labeled the injury to Hernandez other than acknowledging it is his ankle, but the sight of him leaving the stadium on crutches and in a walking boot conveys the seriousness of it. Don't be surprised if Hernandez is out upward of a month. It is critical -- especially since he is so early in his career -- that his ankle heals completely before he returns to protect against long-term instability and degenerative changes. Expect the Patriots to take this one slowly to protect their big investment.

And we're keeping an eye on

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (shoulder): After being cleared for contact last Thursday, Mathews knew his return date was approaching, but waiting another week might have been the best plan. Mathews was working diligently to stay in shape, but there's nothing quite like actual practice reps to prepare for a game. The prevailing feeling in San Diego is that he will make his season debut this coming weekend, assuming all goes well in practice this week.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers (ribs): Gates was a surprise inactive Sunday, especially given his return to the game the previous Monday night after the injury and his return to practice last Friday. That is what makes projecting his status for this week far more difficult. Here's hoping he's back in practice by late week so there are fewer questions heading into Sunday.

Greg Jennings, WR Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings was not able to play in Week 2 with a groin injury after only four days' rest. The Packers' next game, though, is Monday night, meaning Jennings will have had extra recovery time. And let's not forget, he wanted to try to give it a go in Week 2. We'll see how he fares in practice but expect to see him back in Week 3.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears (ankle): Coach Lovie Smith says it's not a high ankle sprain, so what are fantasy owners to do now? Worry less about what the team is calling it and more about what Forte is actually doing. Either type of sprain can be minor or severe; it's just that high ankle sprains tend to be more disabling across the board. But Forte was outside Monday, and as noted by ESPN Chicago, he was not wearing a brace or a boot and "trotted" off the field, something we wouldn't necessarily have expected just four days after injury. While Smith said not to expect Forte to necessarily return to practice immediately, he also said Forte had not yet been ruled out of anything. More guessing for fantasy owners, but it certainly looks as if Forte escaped a more serious injury. It still would be a surprise to see him this week; however, it's looking as if his recovery could be quicker than initially expected.

Week 2 Thursday injury update

September, 13, 2012
9/13/12
7:03
PM ET


Thursday practice reports are perhaps the most torturous. They can breed false hope -- athlete practices Thursday and looks like a lock to play only to have more soreness the next day and end up downgraded in Friday practice -- or insecurity -- injured athlete is still not doing much by Thursday, so there's no way he'll be ready by Sunday, right? Except the past three times you thought that, he not only showed up Sunday, he was also the top scorer.

Welcome to our world. While Thursdays bring us a little closer to game time, there are still many things that can change in the next 72 hours. Still, there are often hints as to which way a player's status is trending, and we want you to be tormented right along with us.

Here's what we're looking at so far in Week 2:

Running Backs

Arian Foster, Houston Texans, illness: Foster's knee (or the "area around [his] knee") turned out to be a nonissue in Week 1, and his prediction that he would play was accurate. He did not practice Wednesday due to an unspecified illness but was back in business Thursday. Expect Foster to be his usual self Sunday.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, shoulder: Mathews is approaching five weeks since his surgery to repair a fractured clavicle. Although he has done individual drills and worked out intensely, the protocol shifted Wednesday. Mathews did not practice with the team Wednesday, which, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, was a part of the team's plan, not a reflection of a step in the wrong direction.

"He worked pretty hard to the side," coach Norv Turner told the Union-Tribune. "He just didn't practice. We'll get him out there as soon as we can."



The protocol shifted again Thursday when Mathews turned up in practice in helmet and shoulder pads, the first time he has been in equipment since his injury. This is an encouraging sign, as clearance for contact represents the final barrier to Mathews' return.

Still, the team is not saying he is ready to suit up Sunday just yet. There is no doubt the Chargers will want to see how he responds to this level of practice and perhaps follow up with additional evaluation Friday. With any luck, there will be some indication as to his game status before the actual game time.

Rashard Mendenhall, knee, and Jonathan Dwyer, foot, Pittsburgh Steelers: Mendenhall has been listed as a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He continues to make strides in his recovery from ACL reconstruction, but it is not clear whether he is ready to face his first game action just yet. Pittsburgh does have an early bye week (Week 4), and it's possible we do not see Mendenhall before then.

Meanwhile, Dwyer showed up on Wednesday's report because of a sore foot. Not to panic. He was in full practice Thursday, and the expectation is that he will play. Coach Mike Tomlin complimented Dwyer's Week 1 performance in his Tuesday news conference, saying he thought Dwyer "represented himself well and will probably get an increased opportunity because of it."



Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, ankle: Stewart did not play in Week 1 because of a sprained ankle even though he had resumed planting and cutting late in the week. Apparently he has improved on those fronts. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Stewart was moving more decisively this week, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. Knowing how rarely Stewart misses games, it's hard to imagine him missing Week 2 with his improving mobility.



Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars, knee: Despite coach Mike Mularkey's comment after Sunday's game that Jennings' knee injury did not appear serious, there has still been no indication as to the specifics of the injury. Mularkey told reporters Wednesday that an MRI showed no significant damage, which leaves us to wonder as to the nature of the problem. Last year, Jennings suffered a sprained knee that resulted in him landing on injured reserve. This latest injury was reportedly to the same knee, although there has been no indication as to whether the two injuries are related. The strongest indicator that he will not be ready by Sunday: Jennings has not practiced this week. Looks like the rock will go to Maurice Jones-Drew.



Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins, head: Thomas, who suffered a concussion in Sunday's game, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He is expected to miss Week 2.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills, knee: Jackson is out this week; this we already know. What remains less clear is how long he will be out. On Tuesday, I explained the reasoning for re-evaluation within seven to 10 days. Jackson essentially confirmed as much on the Bills' official website stating, "What we're going to go re-evaluate is my healing. That's what we're going to look at in seven to 10 days. We've got a good picture of it and know what we need to do to get it right."

His point was that the MRI gave a good picture of the injury, but how his knee responds initially is to be determined. He is optimistic that he can return on the shorter end of the timetable. "Hopefully sooner, but I'll definitely be back in four weeks," said Jackson. "Without a doubt." Love the attitude.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, foot: Johnson made everyone nervous when he missed Wednesday's practice with what was termed a foot injury. After all, ever since he was anointed the face of "Madden NFL 13," superstitious types have been fearing the worst. (Most who appear on the cover go on to be beset by injury that season, never mind the odds of any football player sustaining an injury in a given year).

Put those fears to rest, at least for now. Johnson returned to practice Thursday. Now might be a good time to point out that the physical play of Johnson has often left him bruised, battered and sitting out midweek practices in the past. If a similar pattern plays out this year but Johnson still shows up big on Sundays, no one is going to complain. It just might make for a case of the nerves each week.

Jeremy Maclin, hip, and DeSean Jackson, hamstring, Philadelphia Eagles: Maclin's right hip continues to be an issue, as he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. According to CSNPhilly.com, Maclin said he felt better than he did earlier in the week and then was off to test his hip with some running. There's no word on how that went, but since it was not followed by practice, it's reasonable to assume it was less than ideal.

The surprise was the addition of Jackson to the injury report. Jackson was a regular participant Wednesday, but on Thursday, coach Andy Reid informed the media before practice that Jackson would not be present due to a hamstring injury. According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jackson hurt the hamstring at the end of Wednesday's practice and was seen sporting an ice wrap on his left leg.

There's no telling the severity of Jackson's injury by the limited information available, but late additions to the injury report are never popular. The closer it is to Sunday when an injury crops up, the riskier the player's status given the minimal recovery time. If an athlete returns to Friday practice, most concerns are alleviated. What Jackson does -- or does not do -- Friday could swing fantasy owners' hopes one direction or another.

Reid made it sound Thursday as if both players were improving and that they could both play Sunday. It would feel so much better if we could see both of them in some form of practice before the weekend.



If there's some good news to be found, receiver Riley Cooper (fractured clavicle) returned to limited practice for the first time Wednesday. It still seems like a stretch that he would be available in Week 2.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, foot: Remember how coach Mike Shanahan said the team would know more after Garcon tested his foot in Wednesday's practice? Well, he didn't practice Wednesday. He didn't practice much Thursday either. Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan quoted Shanahan as calling Garcon "very limited" Thursday. Now Shanahan says the team should know more Friday. Early in the week, Garcon seemed confident he would be able to play.

Foot injuries are often difficult to assess for a receiver until he tries to make high-speed pivots and cuts where the foot is subject to increased shear forces. At this point, it does not look encouraging, but there is still another day to go -- another day to worry for fantasy owners. Heck, it could be another three days to worry if this goes down to Sunday.

Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers, knee: Smith was officially limited at practice Wednesday and Thursday because of soreness in his right knee, but it does not seem to be a major concern. The Charlotte Observer quotes Rivera as saying Smith is expected to play Sunday.

Nate Washington, leg, and Kenny Britt, knee, Tennessee Titans: Washington is listed with a leg injury on this week's report (no head injury as was initially suspected). He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but expects to play Sunday. If he returns to practice Friday, it would go a long way toward confirming his availability.

Meanwhile, Britt is back and practicing with the team. He was a limited participant Wednesday and Thursday. According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, coach Mike Munchak expects Britt to be in the range of 15 to 25 plays Sunday. It's worth remembering that this will be Britt's first game action since undergoing three knee surgeries, one of which was an ACL reconstruction. His participation in the game could evolve -- or devolve -- depending how his knee responds. There is little doubt the Titans are eager to reincorporate him into the offense given his talent, but whether he is ready to pick up where he left off remains to be seen.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders, hamstring: Moore has been a full participant in practice and impressing his teammates. According to the Contra Costa Times, quarterback Carson Palmer said of Moore, "He looked like the Denarius of old." Moore also said his conditioning was improved, another indication that holding him out of Monday's game was probably wise. It appears he will be ready to play in Week 2.

Devery Henderson, New Orleans Saints, concussion: Henderson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and appears unlikely to play in Week 2.

Tight Ends

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, ribs: Gates has not practiced this week due to sore ribs. Before anyone panics, remember the Chargers played in a Monday night game, so he has had one fewer day of recovery. If anyone can take a couple of days off from practice and still perform in a game, it's Gates. I'm not overly concerned ... yet.

Quarterbacks

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans, left shoulder: Locker returned to limited practice Wednesday and increased his participation Thursday, strongly hinting at a return Sunday.



John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals, ankle: On Tuesday, it seemed highly unlikely that Skelton would be ready to return this week after getting carted from the field with an ankle injury. Coach Ken Whisenhunt did not want to commit to Kevin Kolb early, but by Thursday, ESPN's Adam Schefter was reporting a decision had been made. Kolb will be the starter in Week 2 against the New England Patriots.



Week 1 is in the books! And yes, unfortunately, there are injuries to report. Here's what we know so far:

Running backs

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireFred Jackson is out at least three weeks, but will it be more?
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (knee): What a shame for Jackson, coming off a season that ended prematurely because of a broken right fibula, to be forced out in Week 1 with a serious injury to the same leg. Jackson is going to miss some time, the question now is how much. The Bills report that Jackson has a lateral collateral ligament injury and is expected to miss at least the next three weeks. The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is one of the four primary stabilizing ligaments of the knee, reinforcing the outer (lateral) aspect of the knee joint. It is injured less frequently than its counterpart on the inner knee, the medial collateral ligament (MCL), primarily because the typical mechanism of injury for an LCL (blow to the inside of the knee) is less common. The LCL can also be injured during a hyperextension or rotational injury. This appears to have been the case with Jackson as he was actually hit on his left leg by New York Jets safety LaRon Landry, yet his right knee sustained the injury. Jackson told the Buffalo News he was immediately worried when his knee "popped." The biggest concern with these injuries is damage to any surrounding structures on the lateral and particularly the posterolateral aspect of the knee. Structures in this area which lie close to the LCL help control stability in the back corner of the knee, an area which is subject to high biomechanical forces during normal movement. Any instability can be threatening to the overall health of the knee.

Thus far reports out of Buffalo have only referenced the LCL itself. If it is an isolated sprain of minor to moderate degree, there is a good chance it can heal with restricted motion (via bracing) and rest to protect the ligament. Even minor damage to other surrounding tissues can respond well to early treatment. This explains the report that the Bills will see how Jackson responds over the next 7 to 10 days. If his knee is improving over that time and showing good stability, the chances of him returning in several weeks are encouraging. If he still has marked pain, swelling and instability, the time frame could be extended. Everyone, including Jackson and the Bills, is in a wait-and-see mode right now.

Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars (knee): Jennings got the start on Sunday but he didn't last long. Jennings exited the game in the first half with what was later reported to be a knee injury. There have been no more specifics released as to the nature of the ailment but the Florida Times-Union reports coach Mike Mularkey said of Jennings' injury, "I don't think it's serious." Still, this opens the door for more of Maurice Jones-Drew, perhaps sooner than expected.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins (head): Thomas suffered a concussion in Sunday's game and will be monitored closely throughout the week. There has been no official word as to his status for Week 2 but it would not be surprising if he is out.

Wide receivers

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings suffered a groin injury late in Sunday's game and was sore afterward, according to coach Mike McCarthy. Jennings was not in practice Tuesday during the portion that is open to the media. The concern here is that the Packers have a Thursday night game. Jennings' status should become clearer Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeJeremy Maclin
AP Photo/Brian GarfinkelJeremy Maclin put up solid numbers against the Browns despite Michael Vick's woes, but he suffered a hip injury in the contest.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): Maclin had a good day Sunday (96 yards, 1 TD) but it came at a price. Maclin injured his right hip, although the exact nature of the injury remains a bit unclear. ESPN's Adam Shefter reported Maclin had a hip pointer injury per coach Andy Reid. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to the injury as a hip flexor. There are differences. The hip flexor is a muscle that sits deep in the pelvis and, as the name implies, is responsible for flexing the hip as well as contributing to overall stability and power at the hip. Not only is a strain of the muscle painful, it diminishes the ability to drive the leg forward while running. A hip pointer refers to a deep bruising of the pelvis, typically not far from where several muscles attach. If the bruising impacts muscles which contribute to moving the hip, then the function of those muscles can be affected.

No matter which injury it is, the end result may not vary much. Maclin is undoubtedly sore and moving slowly as a result. He will receive treatment to reduce any associated swelling or bruising and may be limited in or even removed from practice early in the week, depending on the severity. It is too soon to say whether he will be available in Week 2, as it may well depend on his progress over the next few days. Teammate and fellow receiver Riley Cooper is still recovering from a fractured clavicle and will not be available in Week 2.

Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans (leg): Washington took a hard hit in Sunday's game and left with what the team later called a leg contusion (bruise). There was some question as to whether Washington had also suffered a head injury, but Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean later reported there was no concussion. Wyatt also said Washington should be available to play this week.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (foot): And he was off to such a great start! Garcon was forced out of Sunday's game with a foot injury, but X-rays were reported to be negative. Garcon later told Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan DC he felt good and expected to play in Week 2. Coach Mike Shanahan offered an explanation which really provided no clarity as to the nature of Garcon's injury. "It's kind of like when you have turf toe but it's not the toe," Shanahan told reporters Monday. According to the Washington Post, the team will know more after Garcon tests the foot in Wednesday's practice.

Devery Henderson, New Orleans Saints (head): Henderson left in the second quarter with what was later announced to be a head injury. Presume the protocol of close evaluation and monitoring as the week progresses.

Quarterbacks

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans (shoulder): Locker injured his left (non-throwing) arm while trying to make a tackle after throwing an interception (note to Locker: no more tackling). Reported by The Tennessean as a shoulder separation, Locker underwent an MRI on Monday. According to news reports, Locker is expected to return to practice in some capacity by midweek but likely will wear a brace. As long as he can perform the functions of quarterback, he will play. The Titans sound at this point as if they do not expect him to miss any time but as coach Mike Munchak said after Sunday's game, "We'd rather him not go in there and tackle anybody." Right.

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (ankle): When Skelton was carted off the field Sunday, the natural assumption was that he had a serious enough injury to force him out for multiple weeks. Maybe not. X-rays of Skelton's ankle reportedly came back negative and initial fears of a high ankle sprain were alleviated. Coach Ken Whisenhunt says Skelton's ankle sprain is of the "low" variety and he has not yet been ruled out for Week 2, according to the Cardinals' official website. It's worth reminding that even lateral ankle sprains can be problematic, making it difficult to bear weight normally, much less move around in the pocket or scramble when necessary. It seems highly unlikely Skelton will be ready to play in Week 2, but between health and performance, the quarterback situation could remain fluid in Arizona.

Tight ends

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, (ribs): Gates looked to be in pain while being evaluated on the sideline for sore ribs during Monday night's game. He even left the game briefly in the third quarter to be further examined in the locker room. Tough player that he is, Gates returned to the game, although he clearly appeared to be in some discomfort throughout the remainder of the night. His return to the game is a good early sign with regard to Week 2.

And we're keeping an eye on

[+] EnlargeRyan Mathews
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesRyan Mathews missed Week 1 but there's still a chance he could play in Week 2.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (shoulder): Mathews sat out Week 1 as his healing collarbone has not yet allowed him to be cleared for contact. The big question now is whether he will be available for Week 2. No word on that front yet; this is purely a matter of the doctors giving him clearance. Mathews has been maintaining his cardiovascular fitness and working in individual drills in anticipation of being ready to go as soon as he's given a green light.



Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans (knee): Britt is coming off three surgeries since last season, two on his right knee and one on his left. He was forced to sit out Week 1, serving his one-game, league-imposed suspension. Britt is expected to return to team practice Wednesday, and the Titans expect him to be available Sunday, barring a setback. It's worth remembering he was just activated from the PUP list on Aug. 28 and has had very limited work with the team. (Translation: His knees, one of which is post-ACL reconstruction, have hardly been tested.) All of this makes his being "available" very vague in terms of what type of contribution he can actually make on the field in his first appearance. Still, the threat of Britt is a nice thing for the Titans to have in their arsenal.



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!



As usual, the preseason generates its fair share of injuries on top of all the lingering issues heading into camp. I'll be taking a look at some of the more notable injury news regarding running backs and wide receivers as we head into the final week of preseason action.

Running Backs

Michael Bush
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireMichael Bush could be back for the season opener despite the hand injury, but it's still up in the air.
Michael Bush, Oakland Raiders: Just when it looked as if Bush might edge out Darren McFadden for the top spot, he suffered a left thumb fracture in the Raiders' third preseason game. While early indications were that Bush was expected to undergo a surgical procedure Monday, coach Tom Cable would neither confirm nor deny on Monday whether that had taken place. According to the San Jose Mercury News, "We are going to adhere to the in-season injury policy," Cable said, "and we're not going to talk about injuries, or where anyone's at, or what's going on with them."

Bush decided to tweet about it Tuesday, however. So we now know he underwent surgery to stabilize a Bennett's fracture. A Bennett's fracture is a break at the base of the first metacarpal, the bone that connects the wrist to the thumb. The break is located where the metacarpal meets the carpal or wrist bones (the carpometacarpal joint). This joint is significant because it has a great deal of mobility, which is needed for pinch and grip.

When treated promptly, this type of injury can have a very good outcome. Surgery to pin the fracture helps ensure proper alignment and allows for earlier range-of-motion exercise. Bone typically takes six weeks to heal, although it can be less in a small bone of the finger or hand. Once Bush's thumb demonstrates good bony healing, he likely will be allowed to return to play, but with some form of protection for the thumb. How cumbersome the protective device is might dictate how well he is able to carry and catch the ball. Although there is no official timetable for Bush's return, there are many variables that could influence it, including the extent of the fracture, how quickly his bone heals and how well the thumb can be protected while still allowing him to function. At this point, he should not be viewed as a lock to start the season.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills: Jackson broke the fourth metacarpal in his left hand in Week 1 of the preseason, which, although certainly a setback, isn't all gloom and doom. The fourth metacarpal, the long bone in the hand that connects the base of the fourth (ring) finger to the wrist, is not in a place that requires regaining significant range of motion or muscular strength. Once the bone has shown adequate healing, the injury should be behind him, minus the lingering effects or risk of recurrence of, say, a hamstring injury or knee sprain.

The typical timetable for bone healing is roughly six weeks, sometimes less in a smaller bone of the hand. Jackson's initial timetable was projected at four to six weeks, depending on how the healing progressed, which allows the possibility for a Week 1 return, although he likely would require some sort of protection, such as a heavy splint, for competition. Jackson has returned to practice and, according to the Bills' official website, coach Chan Gailey indicated he could be available Week 1 but likely would be limited. With Marshawn Lynch back in practice and C.J. Spiller performing well, expect Jackson's involvement to build for the first few weeks. The good news is that once the bone fully heals, Jackson's injury should be in the rearview mirror.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: It's tough to evaluate what you can't see, especially in the absence of any meaningful information, such as a diagnosis. When Jones-Drew hadn't practiced for several consecutive days because of an issue with his knee, it raised red flags. After a report of a "scope" on his knee, Jones-Drew's agent issued a statement calling the story "absolutely false." What we do know is that the team is holding him out of practice in the final week of the preseason so he can rest his knee and continue with rehab. According to The Florida Times-Union, coach Jack del Rio said surgery is "not necessary."

So, what to make of this situation? The Times-Union reported that Jones-Drew indicated on his radio show that he is "as healthy as I'll be." Those words suggest that his knee might not be perfect, but that he and the team think it is serviceable. How Jones-Drew's knee will hold up under the demands of a season of football, especially for a stalwart running back, remains to be seen. Without knowing the specifics of the injury, the likelihood of his condition worsening is virtually impossible to project.

Although it's understandable that the team wants to protect its most valuable ground asset from further injury, the mere fact that he is being so carefully guarded for the remainder of the preseason is cause for pause. At worst, this ailment turns into something bigger that causes Jones-Drew to miss significant time. At best, Jones-Drew is entering the season under a shroud of mystery and the possibility that an underlying condition exists that could become exacerbated at any time. For fantasy owners, it becomes a matter of deciding whether you can live with the uncertainty.

Marshawn Lynch, Buffalo Bills: Lynch sprained his right ankle on Friday, Aug. 13 (the same day teammate Fred Jackson broke a bone in his hand, superstitious Bills fans take note), but the Bills are optimistic that he will return by Week 1. In fact, Lynch was cleared Tuesday to return to practice and participate in the preseason finale. Thursday should provide an opportunity to see whether Lynch's injury is behind him.

Steve Slaton, Houston Texans: Slaton was already in a position of having to prove himself, needing to erase the memories of multiple fumbles last season. Those fumbles were caused, at least in part, by Slaton's inability to feel or grip the ball adequately, the result of a pinched nerve in his neck. Slaton's season ended prematurely because of the condition, and he underwent offseason neck surgery when the symptoms lingered even after extensive rest. Slaton entered training camp reporting significant improvement in how he felt and cleared for all elements of football.

With the loss of Ben Tate for the season to an ankle injury, the competition seemed to be between Slaton and Arian Foster. Slaton was given more kick return assignments in camp, however, and Foster appeared to have the edge for the starting job. In the Week 3 preseason contest, Slaton suffered a turf toe injury, and he is now virtually certain to take a back seat to Foster. Although the extent of the toe injury does not sound especially serious (the Texans' website suggests he could be ready for the season opener), Slaton did not need to add an injury. Coach Gary Kubiak is known to rotate his running backs based on performance, but it would appear that Slaton's value has taken a hit.

Wide Receivers

Dez Bryant
Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireBecause of his injuries, Dez Bryant never did appear in a preseason game.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys: Much was made of the size of Bryant's hands and his ability to make spectacular catches during rookie minicamp in May. On the final day, however, he turned his ankle. During June OTAs, Bryant came early and stayed late to work on fielding punts. But halfway through the scheduled sessions, Bryant developed hamstring tightness and missed several days of practice. In July, Bryant was the first Cowboy to step on the field for training camp, trying to set a tone for his readiness to play. Within days, Bryant had suffered a high right ankle sprain, the most serious injury for him thus far, which not only caused him to miss the remainder of training camp practices but also put the start of his season in jeopardy.

Notice a pattern? On the positive side, since joining the Cowboys, Bryant has impressed everyone with his punctuality (something he was not known for in college, which raised concerns at draft time), his eagerness and, above all, his raw talent at the wide receiver position. On the down side, one cannot help but notice that every session of workouts has been interrupted by injury. In fact, Bryant did not work out at the NFL combine because of a hamstring injury he was nursing at the time.

Although Bryant has made significant progress in his recovery from the recent high ankle sprain, and the Cowboys' medical staff has been properly cautious in not allowing him to return too quickly, the injury concerns going forward cannot be overlooked. The hope is that Bryant will be ready for the season opener (he has returned to practice, but, according to The Dallas Morning News, his conditioning needs work) but he will not have played in a single preseason contest. There are already indications that it is unlikely Bryant will muster a full season without some type of injury setback. Fantasy owners have to evaluate the upside of Bryant's talent alongside the potential risk of an absence caused by injury.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: Fantasy owners might have all but forgotten about Harvin's ongoing battle with migraines were it not for a particularly scary incident in training camp. Harvin, who had been absent for two weeks early in camp after the death of his grandmother and a migraine flare, collapsed on the practice field in mid-August and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. The episode reminded everyone -- including teammates who observed it -- just how serious the condition is for Harvin.

Harvin was able to gradually return to activity and even made an appearance in the team's third preseason game, catching two passes in the Vikings' win. Afterward, Harvin indicated that additional medical tests led doctors to believe they have figured out a primary cause for his migraines. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Harvin said "We're feeling really confident. I know we said that a couple times, but I think this time we found what the main cause was." Harvin added, "I'm not saying I'll never get a headache again, but hopefully we can slow it down a little bit. ... It's not life-threatening, but it's something we need to work on and I will."

It's certainly encouraging that Harvin has been able to resume practicing, conditioning and even competitive play. It's perhaps more encouraging that he is so upbeat about the outlook for managing his migraines. Nonetheless, it remains a chronic condition that needs to be managed; it is not cured, at least not yet. That leaves fantasy owners with an element of uncertainty, but if Harvin continues to produce as he did last year, it might well be worth the trade-off.

For more injury capsules and updates, check out our full list in the draft kit.

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