Stephania Bell: Kenny Britt

Larry FitzgeraldMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsIt looks like Larry Fitzgerald will play Thursday night, but how effective will he be?
This is not the same St. Louis Rams team that the Arizona Cardinals faced in Week 10. In that contest, the Cardinals won handily (31-14), and in doing so improved to 9-1 and maintained their spot atop the NFC West.

Since then, each team has moved on to starting a different quarterback (Shaun Hill replaces Austin Davis for the Rams, and Drew Stanton has taken over for Carson Palmer in Arizona). The Cardinals also lost starting running back Andre Ellington to injured reserve, and while they remain in first place in the division, things have tightened up with the Seattle Seahawks.

Meanwhile, the Rams are playing their best football of the season, with the defense posting two consecutive shutouts and the offense notching 66 points in that time frame. Running back Tre Mason has emerged as the Rams’ definitive starter since these two teams last squared off, and tight end Jared Cook is coming off his biggest performance of the season (18 points in Week 14).

Division matchups late in the season are always interesting when one team, even if not a playoff contender, has the potential to drop another in the standings, as is the case Thursday night. Trying to determine which fantasy stars will shine brightly in these contests becomes a bit more challenging. While injuries always threaten to be a factor, thankfully the playing status of this week’s key fantasy players is not really in question.

Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, knee, (P): Fitzgerald suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in Week 11, and missed the subsequent two games as a result. After returning in Week 14, there is no real doubt as to Fitzgerald’s availability for this week, especially as he comes into the game listed as probable. While his MCL is not likely 100 percent healed, he proved last week against the Kansas City Chiefs that his presence must still be accounted for, and that he will still draw a handful of targets. The last time the Cardinals faced the Rams, Fitzgerald had 112 yards receiving, which ensures he will have the attention of their defense, recently sprained knee or not, on Thursday night.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, ankle, (Q): Defensive players don’t always get their due in this space, but Cromartie’s dramatic turnaround in status this week is worth the attention. Cromartie left last week’s contest on a cart after an injury near his left ankle had some, including Cromartie himself, thinking his season was over with a torn Achilles tendon. Further examination revealed the injury was not to his Achilles, but rather to another nearby tendon (reportedly the peroneal, which controls motion of the foot and contributes to lateral stability of the ankle), per Cardinals general manager Steve Keim.

Better yet, the result is that this is not a season-ending injury. Still, his status for this game was in question, and Cromartie could turn in only limited practices during the short week. In fact, he still hadn’t tested the ankle at game speed in practice, and was expected to be a game-time decision. On Thursday morning, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that according to a team source, Cromartie is expected to play in the game. While he may be feeling some residual soreness from the ankle injury -- and may be challenged to run and maneuver at full speed -- it won’t be enough to keep him on the sideline.

Rams

Kenny Britt, WR, not injury related, (P): This designation is often utilized when a veteran player is given an extra day or two of rest during the week, but is not dealing with a specific injury. Britt was listed as a non-participant Monday, but even that was only an estimation as the team conducted a walk-through. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Britt was a full participant and the probable designation indicates the Rams fully expect to have him on the field. His contributions have been up and down this season, but his presence means the Cardinals have one more pass-catcher to account for alongside Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Cook.

Steelers-Titans injury report

October, 11, 2012
10/11/12
10:35
AM ET


This week's Thursday matchup pits the Tennessee Titans against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here is the status of key fantasy players involved in tonight's game:

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers (knee, P): Mendenhall is expected to start for the second time this season, just four days after his impressive debut following ACL reconstruction. Mendenhall put in a limited practice Tuesday (which is not surprising after Sunday's work), but he was a full participant Wednesday, a sign that he is ready to go Thursday night. Mendenhall should once again see plenty of opportunities, but it's important to remember he is still in recovery mode.



Javon Ringer, RB, Titans (knee, out): Ringer suffered an MCL injury in Week 5 and is expected to miss at least four weeks.

[+] EnlargeKenny Britt
AP Photo/Kevin TerrellKenny Britt has just 83 receiving yards this season.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans (ankle, P): Britt managed to get through his limited action last Sunday without suffering a setback. A big difference for Britt this week is that he was listed as a full participant in practice both Tuesday and Wednesday. According to The Tennessean, Britt feels as if he's turning a corner. "Today I felt the most confident I have in this whole year and this whole season, to tell you the truth," Britt said after Tuesday's practice.

There has never been any doubt about Britt's talent. The question has been whether he can get -- and stay -- healthy enough to demonstrate that talent effectively and consistently. Britt has only nine catches this season and most recently has been nursing an ankle sprain, which was superimposed on two knees recovering from offseason surgeries (including ACL reconstruction) and a history of multiple soft-tissue injuries (including hamstring and quadriceps strains). Look for Britt's activity to bump up in Thursday's game, assuming his body cooperates.

Jake Locker, QB, Titans (shoulder, out): Matt Hasselbeck will start again in Week 6 for the Titans, as Locker continues to recover from his second shoulder dislocation episode of the season.

Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers (calf); LaMarr Woodley, LB, Steelers (hamstring): Both players have been ruled out for Thursday night.

Colin McCarthy, LB, Titans (ankle): McCarthy has not practiced at all this week and is listed as questionable. McCarthy played Sunday for the first time since spraining his ankle in Week 1 but is clearly not at full health. Nonetheless, McCarthy still believes he is able to contribute, and his six tackles would seem to support that notion. It sounds as if the Titans hope to have him available, but his status might not be announced until just before game-time.



A fourth of the season has passed already and the injuries keep piling on. The New York Jets have been on the receiving end of two of the biggest blows, losing cornerback Darrelle Revis to a torn ACL in Week 3 and wide receiver Santonio Holmes this past Sunday to a Lisfranc injury. Holmes is expected to undergo surgery in the near future and faces a lengthy rehabilitation and recovery process. The good news for both Revis and Holmes is that they should make full recoveries.

Every other team is facing their own injury concerns as they try to field healthy squads from one Sunday to the next. Here's who else we're keeping an eye on in Week 5.

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, (right shoulder): It's Brady versus Manning this Sunday in New England. Brady will play.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeRashard Mendenhall
Sam Riche/MCT via Getty ImagesRashard Mendenhall will see his first game action since New Year's Day this week.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers, (knee): It's showtime! Mendenhall is set to make his season debut following reconstructive surgery to address a torn ACL in his right knee. Mendenhall has impressed recently in practice and the Steelers have been gradually increasing his activity and his contact. This week Mendenhall has been careful not to say he is definitively playing as the final determination has not been made but he sounds like he is ready to take it to the next level. "I have been taking steps accordingly so I feel confident in everything I have been able to do," said Mendenhall on the Steelers' official website. "It feels good." It will feel good to have Mendenhall as a fantasy option but he's unlikely to see the maximum workload in his first game action.

Ben Tate, Houston Texans, (toe): Tate's sprained toe has kept him out of practice so far this week, enough to raise some concern for his availability in Week 5. According to Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com, coach Gary Kubiak said Tate will also be held out Friday to give his toe additional rest. The team will allow him to test it Saturday but will also prepare Justin Forsett, "just in case." The Texans don't play until Monday night meaning fantasy owners should also make alternate plans, "just in case."

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears, (ankle): Forte has been held to limited practices this week but that's no surprise given the Monday game. He came through without a setback but is still in the process of recovering. He's expected to play this Sunday.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins, (hip): The good news is we're not talking about Bush's knee. Unfortunately he is still on the injury report but Bush bumped up his practice level Thursday to full after being limited Wednesday. This does not seem to present a serious threat to his status for Sunday.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles, (knee): After last week's game coach Andy Reid indicated McCoy had "tweaked" his knee. It certainly doesn't appear serious since he has practiced fully every day this week.

Evan Royster, Washington Redskins, (knee): Royster remains on the injury report as a limited participant with his strained patellar tendon. Alfred Morris is the unquestioned leader here, the actual question is where Royster will mix in with recently acquired Ryan Grant.

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs, (ankle): Hillis is still not practicing this week due to a sprained ankle and should not be counted on for Sunday.

Brandon Jacobs, San Francisco 49ers, (knee): Jacobs appears to be making good progress with his knee which he injured in the preseason. He participated in full practice Wednesday and looks as if he could be available this Sunday. It was Jacobs who told the 49ers official site," I want to get out there and really be a part of it." No word yet on whether he'll be given the green light.

Wide Receivers

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, (foot/knee): Nicks continues to struggle with soreness in his surgically repaired foot and persistent swelling in his knee. The Giants have already ruled him out for Week 5, and at this point are offering no forecast as to when he might return. While the team attributes his absence to both body parts, there hasn't been anything to suggest he has gone backwards with his foot. His absence in Week 3 was not completely out of the realm of reasonable after only three days' rest following his first significant post-surgical game action. The following week, it was the issues with his knee which didn't allow him to test himself in practice. If his foot is still sore, which is not unexpected in light of his recently ramped up activity, there is no way the team would allow him to push it when he also has a swollen knee. If Nicks is compromised because of his knee it raises the possibility of creating a far more serious problem with his still recovering foot and simply makes for a bad combination. The worry will go up next week if we hear that his knee is still failing to progress. For now there is not much definitive information to go on and so Nicks' status remains in a holding pattern. Looking ahead to this Sunday, Ramses Barden is still recovering from a concussion sustained in Week 4, meaning the Giants are again lean at wide receiver. Domenik Hixon will presumably get the start in place of Nicks.

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers, (groin): On Tuesday we talked about the possibility that Jennings would sit out to allow the groin to heal completely. It appears he is doing just that as he has already been ruled out for Week 5. For those who are wondering just how long Jennings can be expected to be sidelined, he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "We don't know what the timetable is." He's being truthful. As is the case with most soft tissue injuries, progression is made based on how the player feels. Typically that progression is advanced more slowly when a player has already suffered a setback like Jennings did in Week 4. Translation: Wait and see.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, (foot): It does finally appear as if Garcon has turned a corner with regards to his ailing foot. It's not a full 180 degree turnaround just yet, perhaps it's more like a soft curve which is trending in the right direction. Garcon managed to get through last week's game -- his first since Week 1 -- without a setback and this week he has resumed full practice with the team. He told the Washington Post, "It's going to take some time to feel back like my old self, like it was in training camp," but added, "It's getting better every day." That is exactly what fantasy owners want to hear.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, (groin): Johnson was limited on Thursday but the Texans have been routinely resting him early in the week. Although they don't play until Monday night there seems to be little reason to doubt Johnson will suit up, so plan on using him as you normally would.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, (hand): Jones appeared to be impaired by the laceration on his hand in Week 4, catching only one ball. Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Eight targets and one catch is not a good percentage. Julio's hand is not 100 percent." For his part, Jones told the Falcons' official website that last week's performance had nothing to do with the hand and more to do with the defensive coverage he was facing. With regards to this week Jones said simply, "I'm ready to go." The good news is that regardless of whether his hand affected him or not, with another week there has been more time for the cut to heal. Jones was a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday and is expected to be a full go this weekend.

Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans, (ankle): Britt did not play in Week 4 because of an ankle injury and it now looks as if he could miss another game. He has not practiced this week although he is doing some individual work on the side, including some running. According to the Tennessean, coach Mike Munchak said of Britt on Wednesday, "There's no doubt he's going to have to improve the next couple of days to help us on Sunday.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens, (ankle): Smith left last week's game appearing to favor his ankle but he's practiced fully every day this week and is on track to play.

Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints, (hamstring): Moore has been added to the Saints injury report with a hamstring strain and has not practiced so far this week. That makes his status iffy at best and the Saints don't play until Sunday night. It might be best to make an alternate plan.

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, (hand): Edelman has still not practiced at all this week. Not encouraging for his chances for Sunday.

Tight Ends:

Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), New England Patriots: Gronkowski played last week despite the hip injury so he should play again this Sunday. He sat out Wednesday practice but was back on a limited basis Thursday. The more interesting tidbit is seeing the return of Aaron Hernandez to a limited practice on Thursday. Hernandez has been out since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2. This is very early in the return-to-activity phase so color me skeptical about any rumor he will return this Sunday. This is a great sign that he is making progress as expected but there is a long ways to go before returning to game action where there is easy risk of re-injury.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans, (shoulder): Cook remains limited in practice so far this week but it appears to be a proactive measure. After playing last Sunday, albeit in a limited role coming off his shoulder injury, the expectation is Cook will play again this week when the Titans visit the Vikings.

Dustin Keller, New York Jets, (hamstring): As if the Jets don't have enough injury issues, Keller continues to be sidelined with a hamstring strain. He has not practiced yet this week and with the Jets playing on Monday night, his uncertain status is risky.

And on a final note ...

Bills running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are both off the injury report this week.

Despite all their injury news at other positions, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is no longer on the injury report.

Week 4 Thursday injury update

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
10:41
PM ET


Welcome back, NFL referees! Tonight will mark their season debut in Baltimore as the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns. I have no doubt that they, like players who do not start the season on time because of contract disputes, have been maintaining their workout programs in order to be ready at the drop of a hat. But I wonder if they, like the players, will take some time to adapt to the speed of the game and will we potentially see an increased injury rate in the referees in-season this year? Something to keep an eye on.

Here's who else we're keeping an eye on in Week 4.

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiMatthew Stafford looks like he'll go Sunday after leaving last week's game early.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (hamstring): On Tuesday we discussed Stafford's hamstring/glute injury, which was labeled "hamstring" on the NFL official injury report Wednesday. Later that day, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweeted that the team had revised it to a "hip" ailment. To add less clarity to the situation, consider the remarks of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who told reporters, "I don't really consider him injured. He's just dealing with something that's been uncomfortable ..." Based on Stafford's original remarks, this does not have the sounds of a true muscle pull but rather of an issue in the back or hip that is causing some referred pain into the gluteal or hamstring area. That leaves open a range of possibilities, but in the end the actual diagnosis may not be particularly significant, at least not yet. It will come down to functionality. Does he have enough mobility and power in the leg to function effectively, even if there is some lingering soreness? As long as that soreness does not progress into more disabling pain or weakness, then Stafford should be able to press through it. For what it's worth, he indicated he was feeling better Thursday than Wednesday.

However they decide to label it, here's what we know: Stafford did not practice Wednesday but did return Thursday, a good sign that he is preparing to be available Sunday.



Tom Brady, New England Patriots (right shoulder): If you've missed seeing Brady's name on the injury report this year, well, he's back. And it's the same body part he was listed with when he went on that record streak of injury report appearances a few years running. He was limited at practice Wednesday but expect him to play, as always.

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (ankle): Skelton began limited practices last Thursday and that's how he started off this week. Still recovering from a sprained ankle, he returned to limited practice again this week. Right now it looks as if Kevin Kolb will stay under center.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireAhmad Bradshaw looks like he will start this week after missing the Week 3 contest.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (neck): The Giants weren't saying much about Bradshaw's neck injury last week but he offered up some insight Thursday. The culprit, it appears, is a bulging disc. According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York, Bradshaw experienced tingling in his hands during the Week 2 game but didn't attribute it to a specific hit. It happened a second time in the game, which is when Bradshaw decided he should get it checked out.

Tingling is a hallmark nerve symptom; when the tingling happens in both hands at the same time, it's a signal that the spinal cord is involved. The medical staff was understandably cautious when Bradshaw reported the symptoms and, after evaluating him, determined he could remain at the game, but could not return to play in the game. Bradshaw underwent a subsequent MRI, where the disc issue was detected. While disc injuries can be serious, they can also be fairly benign. It's not uncommon for bulging discs to be present and be completely asymptomatic. If there is an event that results in inflammation, it can become painful or provoke nerve tissue in the area (this is perhaps what Bradshaw was trying to explain when he referenced an "inflamed disc"). Often once the inflammation resolves, the symptoms do as well. It appears this was the case with Bradshaw.

Bradshaw has practiced fully both Wednesday and Thursday and is on track to resume his starting role Sunday against the Eagles. The Giants would not return him to play if he was at any significant risk, and his clearance to return indicates his neurological symptoms have resolved. The unknown aspect is whether these symptoms will return. There is no true predictability one way or another, however, it is not uncommon to have more than one episode once a disc injury is present. Those episodes can be weeks, months or even years apart. And in some cases, there is no recurrence.



Those who make their living at a computer are at as much, if not more, risk than professional football players for developing disc problems in their neck and back. So if everyone on a laptop is going to continue to work, Bradshaw can too. If Bradshaw's neck does turn into a recurring problem then his status may change, but until that time, he can be expected to play.

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireFred Jackson might be ready to return to action for the first time since leaving during the season opener.
Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder), Buffalo Bills: Flash back to Sunday, Spiller clearly in pain on the ground, carted off the field with medical personnel holding his shoulders. Now it's four days later and Spiller is back in practice, albeit on a very limited basis. Quite surprising. Perhaps the reassurance he received after going through further tests was enough to encourage his rapid recovery. He is still has a ways to go before playing in a game and it would not be surprising if he is out this Sunday, but that has not yet been decided.

Jackson has made an impressive recovery of his own from a right lateral knee sprain. He returned to limited practice Wednesday but emerged seeming less than thrilled with the result. Jackson told the Buffalo News on Thursday, "I was a little sore ... a little swollen." It's not terribly surprising that Jackson's knee would respond that way to the increased activity; the question was whether he would have to scale it back further on the second day. Apparently not. There were no lingering effects into Thursday afternoon's practice and Jackson participated in most of it, according to the News. After practice, coach Chan Gailey told reporters, "I think if we make it through the next couple days and continue to improve I think [Jackson] will have the opportunity to play."

There is still plenty of time for things to change but it appears to be shaping up for Jackson to be available along with a healthy Tashard Choice, while Spiller likely rests another week.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (groin): Jackson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but this week isn't so much about whether he'll play or not, it's about what can be expected. Last Sunday, Jackson gained only 29 yards rushing on 11 carries, most of which were very short gains with the exception of one run for 13 yards. Jackson acknowledged the injury affected him but also said he didn't suffer any setbacks. Until we see him running full speed, there will be some question as to whether the injury is truly behind him.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans (knee): Foster took in a light practice Wednesday but was back at it in full on Thursday. So far, so good.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (shoulder): McFadden's presence here is a reminder that sometimes players appear on injury reports with very minor ailments -- bumps and bruise from a game -- because they take fewer reps in practice to preserve their bodies. Of course we all understand why there is a slight panic for fantasy owners when it's McFadden's name that appears here. While Oakland's official Thursday injury report is not in at the time of this writing, a source tells me he is participating and is "fine."



[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
Joe Camporeale/US PresswireMatt Forte could be back this week, but will fantasy owners be able to wait until Monday night for the decision?
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (ankle): If only the Bears didn't have a Monday night game. Forte's status could very well come down to the wire, which will make this a tough decision for fantasy owners. In general, things are looking up. Forte returned to practice Wednesday and repeated the effort Thursday. His chances of returning are looking better, but hopefully there will be a better indication by Friday afternoon.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (knee): On Tuesday we highlighted Bush's knee concerns, but the real question was whether we would see him in practice. After being held out Wednesday, Bush returned to limited practice Thursday and was running well. If he can put in another good effort Friday, it appears he will play Sunday.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (rib): On Tuesday, we discussed what would determine whether McGahee could play this week, and his limited participation in practice Wednesday with a bump up to full participation Thursday shows he is on track.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (rib): Another running back, another rib injury. There isn't much concern here because McCoy practiced fully both Wednesday and Thursday.

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions (groin): Leshoure was limited in practice because of a groin injury but keep in mind, he is coming into this season off major surgery (Achilles repair). There is no indication that his Sunday status is in jeopardy, but Friday's practice should yield better clues.

Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals (knee): With teammate Beanie Wells going on IR (designated for return, meaning he can return in Week 12), Williams has an opportunity to shine. He is listed on the report but put in full practice. His value is on the rise.

Evan Royster, Washington Redskins (knee): Royster strained his patellar tendon and has been held to limited practice so far this week. Roy Helu (turf toe) is now on IR, but Ryan Grant was just added to the mix so the Redskins can continue with a running back carousel.

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs (ankle): Hillis has been in a walking boot since the game ended and has not practiced. It's not looking great for his chances to suit up this week. Teammate Jamaal Charles is not on the injury report this week, however. Kudos to Charles, who had an outstanding performance Sunday (233 rushing yards!) and showed some of the pre-injury speed on a 91-yard breakaway run. With Hillis possibly out and Charles showing improvement, he could be poised for a big week.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (ankle): Johnson has now been on the injury report each week but has never been at risk of not playing. Limited Wednesday, full practice Thursday, play Sunday.

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): Maclin's hip benefited from the rest in Week 3 and he claims he's much improved. Full practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and he is expected to play in the big matchup against the New York Giants on Sunday night.



[+] EnlargePierre Garcon
John David Mercer/US PresswireIt doesn't look good for Pierre Garcon to return this week.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (foot): Judging from all the questions coming my way regarding Garcon, people are very suspicious about his injury. It's important to remember that a foot injury, even a relatively mild one (no fracture or dislocation) can be extremely incapacitating because of the load that goes through the foot with running and the shear forces it experiences when changing direction.



The Redskins have maintained that Garcon can proceed based on how the foot feels, which tells us they're not overly concerned about the injury worsening. Still, pain exists to help prevent us from doing things that would lead to further injury, and depending on the location and quality of it, it is not necessarily something that can or should be overridden. With coach Mike Shanahan telling reporters Thursday that Garcon's foot is still sore and with Garcon continuing to be limited in practice (although he is making progress according to Shanahan), it appears he could miss another week.



Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (foot): I said it here Tuesday and I'll say it again: Expect Nicks to play in Week 4. He got the benefit of some extra rest for his sore foot last week, but returned to limited practice Thursday. He will be ready for Sunday night in Philadelphia.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (groin): Johnson practiced on a limited basis both days. There is reason to keep an eye on this, as Johnson suffered a groin injury in the preseason. But this has more the appearance of preserving a veteran star than anything else.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (hand): The Falcons announced that Jones suffered a laceration (cut) to his hand, which is why he left the game briefly Sunday. He has been limited in practice, likely to protect the hand and help it to heal. He is expected to play.



Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans (ankle): According to the Tennessean, Britt described his cascade of injury after injury as "very frustrating." Britt went on to say, "It's like something I can't get right, injury after injury. The last healthy season I had was my rookie year." This has been an overarching concern with Britt for the last few years. A very serious hamstring injury derailed his season two years ago. He headed into 2011 with his quad and hamstring nagging at him, then tore his ACL later that year. During his recovery following reconstructive knee surgery, he needed a follow-up scope and an additional scope on the opposite knee. The Titans articulated their concern when he made his debut in Week 2, saying they planned to limit his touches. A week later he has yet another injury. And, although it is considered relatively minor, he has yet to practice this week. He still hopes to play, but the injury concerns will not disappear when he returns.

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings played in the Monday night game but we all know his performance is hardly the thing we'll remember. He did appear to be at less than full speed at times but managed to play in the game and emerge no worse for the wear. He's been limited in practice since but looks to be in line to play this weekend when the Packers host the Saints.

Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs (elbow): On Tuesday we commented on how painful McCluster's injury looked so no one would have been surprised if he was not in practice this week. But there he was on Wednesday, wearing a brace and participating only in non-contact drills but he was out there nonetheless. On Thursday, he put in another limited practice. He's surprised so far, maybe he will again on Sunday.

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (hand): Edelman has not practiced since injuring his hand in Sunday night's game. There's not much to go on here, but two missed practices aren't encouraging for Sunday.

Tight Ends

Dustin Keller, New York Jets (hamstring): Keller has not played since Week 1 because of his injured hamstring but it looks as if things will change this Sunday. He has been practicing on a limited basis and according to ESPNewYork's Rich Cimini, coach Rex Ryan says he expects Keller to play.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (shoulder): On Tuesday we said Cook would need to show he could perform well enough to play and he appears to be on his way. Cook got Wednesday off but returned to limited practice Thursday. If he can do so again Friday, there is a good chance he will return this week.

Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos (groin): The groin can't be bothering him too much since he was able to practice fully both Wednesday and Thursday. It looks as if he'll be available in Week 4.



Other notes

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston does not appear on the injury report this week. He has been bothered by a case of plantar fasciitis that seemed to have limited him over the last two weeks. He played in Week 3 but had only three receptions for 40 yards. Perhaps his move off the injury report is a sign things are improving.

Don't forget to adjust your lineups! This is the first week of team byes. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts are off this week so they do not appear on the NFL official injury report.

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.



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



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



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

Quick Hits


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



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



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

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



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

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

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



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

Matt Cassel undergoes appendectomy

December, 9, 2010
12/09/10
5:16
PM ET


This week's Thursday night matchup has the Tennessee Titans hosting the Indianapolis Colts.

For the Titans, wide receiver Kenny Britt is off the injury report and is expected to see his first game action since tearing his hamstring six weeks ago. While his recent practice activity and this "noninjury" status are good news, he is still not out of the woods. Hamstring strains, as we've seen many times this season, are very susceptible to aggravation. For that reason, especially given the severity of Britt's injury, it would not be surprising for Britt to see a light workload in his first game back. Fantasy owners who have better options may want to hold him for this week, but if he comes through unscathed, he could be very valuable the rest of the way.

For the Colts, the injury list remains as lengthy as ever. Already ruled out are Austin Collie, Joseph Addai and Mike Hart. None of those three being out is particularly surprising, but it does make those with a questionable status more critical. Donald Brown was on the injury report because of his ankle, but the injury appears to be minor. He practiced fully Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to start. Tight end Jacob Tamme is listed as questionable with a knee ailment (note that early in the week it was called a hamstring). Tamme returned to limited practice Wednesday after sitting out early in the week. My sources seem to think he will play and that he may have been given additional rest because of the short week. Nonetheless, be sure to check game-time inactive reports. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, also listed as questionable, practiced fully Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to play, as he always does.



Here's who else you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 14 playoff rounds:

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
Tim Umphrey/Getty ImagesIt's very possible Matt Cassel could play just days after an appendectomy, but it would be very risky for fantasy owners.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs: Cassel might be the most discussed injury concern in the past 24 hours as it was discovered that Cassel underwent a laparoscopic appendectomy on Wednesday morning. Essentially, he had his appendix removed using a more modern, less invasive approach that includes a scope or camera, as opposed to the old-fashioned "open" procedure which is a bigger cut and longer recovery.

The big question for fantasy owners, since the Chiefs have indicated Cassel's status is questionable and that there is really a 50 percent chance he plays, is will he indeed suit up against division rival the San Diego Chargers?

The answer: Maybe, but fantasy owners need to have insurance and probably should look elsewhere for a playoff-round quarterback.

To better outline the variables involved in determining whether Cassel could play this weekend, I spoke with Dr. Efren Rosas, Chief of Surgery at Kaiser Permanente in San Jose, Calif. Rosas has performed thousands of laparoscopic procedures and is an advocate of the less invasive approach, in part, because of the more rapid recovery for the patient. He was quick to say that not all laparoscopic procedures are identical, nor are all presentations of appendicitis, and several factors could influence whether Cassel could be available Sunday. It should be noted that Rosas has no specific knowledge regarding Cassel's care.

First comes the question of whether Cassel had a three-incision or single-incision surgery (in other words, how many surgical cuts are there on the abdomen). Three incisions are more standard, although one incision is gaining popularity in some places (such as Los Angeles), because there is only one surgical scar. With three cuts, each incision can be smaller, whereas with one cut, all of the surgical instruments have to pass through the same entry so the cut is larger. Following surgery, smaller incisions (typically one-quarter to one-half inch in size) mean less likelihood of developing a hernia (where abdominal contents push outward -- not pretty). That translates to less activity restriction after surgery with three incisions versus one.



Rosas, who treats patients of all ages, including competitive athletes, said, "I release all my patients, no matter what type of job or sport they have, to return at two weeks and if they're doing really well, they're clear within one." When asked if four days would be possible for an NFL quarterback, Rosas said that while it may not be likely, "If he's not too sore and can function effectively, I wouldn't completely rule it out." Rosas pointed out that from a medical standpoint, the tissue should heal within a few days, and that the biggest limitation, presuming no setbacks (such as infection) along the way, would be pain from where the surgical cuts were made. That pain may be amplified by the fact that a throwing athlete uses his oblique abdominal muscles, especially for distance and velocity, meaning long downfield throws might be tougher to make.

Another variable would be the condition of the appendix at the time of surgery. A severely inflamed or ruptured appendix would result in significant abdominal inflammation, complicating the recovery. A minor case of appendicitis in a healthy younger male may mean less inflammation in the surrounding tissue and quicker healing time. Only the surgeon who was involved in Cassel's case has an appreciation for all of the factors in play and ultimately will make the decision as to Cassel's status when appropriate.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent a laparoscopic appendectomy in 2006 and did not play in the first game of the season, a Thursday night game just days after surgery. Roethlisberger did start 10 days later in Week 2. It is worth noting, however, that Roethlisberger also was coming off a summer filled with injuries, having suffered facial fractures, a jaw fracture and a concussion in a motorcycle accident about three months earlier.



It would not be surprising if Cassel were to travel to San Diego with the team and ultimately be held back from starting. And although it appears unlikely, it's not completely inconceivable that he could play. Nonetheless, this is a fantasy situation to avoid for many reasons. This is a late game, so Cassel would likely be listed as questionable at best and even if he starts, may prove not quite up to finishing. It's best to wait a week and see how he's faring. The Chiefs may ultimately opt to do the same.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger has a recently surgically repaired nose to go with his ailing right foot this week. Actually, the rest for his nose may have given his foot a little extra time off. Roethlisberger has been fitted with a protective shield that he will wear Sunday. Most importantly, there has been really no doubt about the fact he is expected to play.



Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: As of this writing, Favre has not yet tested his throwing. Thursday was to be the test date. Favre rested the arm early in the week to allow his sprained sternoclavicular (SC) joint some healing time. Tick tock ...

Running Backs

Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins: Torain was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice although, according to The Washington Post, coach Mike Shanahan indicated that Torain did full work. Torain told the Post that he "feels great" and is eager to get back into the lineup. It looks as though he is on pace to rejoin his team on the field this week. Torain has essentially been out since Halloween after injuring his hamstring that day. He tried to return a couple of weeks later but aggravated the injury in warm-ups. Naturally, there will be some concern as to how Torain's hamstring will fare in his first game in over a month, and more concern over how the workload will be divided. Torain is likely to resume a lead role, but whether fantasy owners can count on that in his first outing is questionable.



Wide Receivers

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesHakeem Nicks has missed the past two games with a leg injury, so if he returned this week, it would be a week ahead of schedule.
Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, New York Giants: This tandem affects many fantasy rosters and everyone is eager to see what its status is for this week. Nicks was able to do about 60 percent of team drills Wednesday, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. Nicks seemed confident that he would be playing; the medical staff gave him the official clearance Thursday, according to Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger. Nicks practiced on a limited basis again Thursday, and if Friday goes well, looks as if he'll play. Teammate Smith has been practicing on a limited basis as well but also appears as if he'll return to game action this week. Smith has been nursing a partially torn pectoral muscle.

Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee, San Diego Chargers: The Chargers face a critical game without some critical personnel. Then again, that won't be a new scenario for them as they've played musical chairs at the wide receiver position all season. Jackson is still recovering from his calf strain and while it still seems likely that he will not play this weekend, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Jackson did practice on Thursday. Naanee, who had come back from a hamstring strain two weeks ago but suffered a setback, is unlikely to play. That leaves Floyd, who so far is doing well. Or at least well enough to not be on the injury radar right now. It appears that Floyd will play this week and likely have more opportunities.

Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu, Seattle Seahawks: Williams has an ankle sprain superimposed on his foot injury and it's not looking good for him as of now. Although the Tacoma News-Tribune reports Williams is out of his walking boot, he has not practiced and likely won't all week. While the Seahawks hold out some hope that Williams could feel well enough to play Sunday, even they don't sound overwhelmingly convinced. Obomanu suffered a deep laceration on his right hand that could make it difficult to catch balls. As a receiver, that does comprise a significant portion of the job description, meaning this injury may prevent him from being able to play. Obomanu will also have until Sunday to see how his hand is healing, but they could both be late-afternoon game-time decisions.



Tight Ends

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: Gates' condition hasn't changed much, but his status midweek has. Gates told the San Diego Union-Tribune "Antonio Gates will play," acknowledging the third-person reference. Maybe it's easier to deal with the pain by taking oneself out of one's body. He admits the pain is still excruciating but knows this is a must-win situation. Barring some unforeseen dramatic setback, Gates will gut it out again.

Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens: Heap's own words belied his concern about his injured hamstring. Heap told the Baltimore Sun that he has rushed back in the past from a hamstring injury, "and that pretty much cost me the rest of the season." The Ravens play on Monday night and Heap has not practiced this week, both of which signal to fantasy owners that they should seek a replacement.

Other


• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin did not practice Wednesday or Thursday as he continues to battle his latest migraine episode. Fantasy owners need to at least start being a bit concerned, as Harvin sat out Week 13 and has not returned to practice.



• Vikings running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart were limited early in the week but, at this point, seem in no danger of sitting out. Proactive rest seems to be the rationale here.

• In addition to their wide receiver concerns, the New York Giants saw running back Ahmad Bradshaw on the injury report this week because of his wrist. Bradshaw did not practice Wednesday but returned to full practice Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Marshall
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesBrandon Marshall has missed the past two games with a hamstring injury and he's scored just one touchdown all season.
Miami Dolphins wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Brian Hartline are both on the injury report this week. Marshall has resumed limited practice after sitting out another game in Week 13 and appears on track to play this Sunday. Hartline had surgery on his finger and was not in practice Wednesday. There has been some concern as to whether he would return at all this season. The Dolphins have not formally ruled him out but it appears he will miss Week 14, maybe longer. This might mean a lot of Davone Bess.

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas continues to practice fully this week and is expected to return to the playing field Sunday. Chris Ivory is probably in no danger of losing significant touches, but Thomas owners who have patiently held on to him may want to keep an eye on how he performs. He could have value in the home stretch.

Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best (toes), and wide receivers Calvin Johnson (groin) and Nate Burleson (hamstring) all appear on the injury report this week but all are expected to play Sunday.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker returned to limited practice Wednesday after missing Week 13 with his high ankle sprain. This is somewhat encouraging, but given that Sims-Walker reported his injury as a high ankle sprain, we need to see him successfully complete the week before getting too excited.



• The Tampa Bay Buccaneers version of Mike Williams is nursing a sore knee which could present a problem for Sunday. According to the St. Petersburg Times, coach Raheem Morris says Williams has been working through this "for a couple of weeks." The Buccaneers are hopeful that some rest during the week will allow him to play Sunday but he could be a game-time call.

Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller continues to be limited by his foot, which seriously impacted his pass-catching productivity. It's hard to hope for much based on the past few weeks and fantasy owners should be securing another option at least for early playoff rounds. The bad news for tight ends moves over to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Heath Miller was on the receiving end of a scary hit last Sunday night that left him with a concussion. Miller did not practice Wednesday and is not expected to play this week. Fortunately in Atlanta, Tony Gonzalez's sprained ankle does not appear to be affecting his chances of playing Sunday. He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he would be fine, adding, "Especially at my age, I have to enjoy this." Gonzalez sees the playoffs coming and he's not going to miss out.



See you at Friday's injury chat (3-4:00 p.m.) and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 14 in the Saturday morning blog!

p>This just in. The New England Patriots are a pretty good team. Just as important for fantasy owners, their key skill position players are pretty healthy too. Enough said. The New York Jets' skill position players are actually fairly healthy. Let's hope that their performance Monday night -- or lack thereof -- didn't cost you a playoff spot.

As we approach fantasy playoff time, every player on your fantasy roster matters. It's not just a question of who's active or not, it's whether that active player can be productive, especially if he's coming off an injury or trying to play through one.



With that in mind, here's who fantasy owners might be concerned about heading into Week 14:

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
AP Photo/Hannah FoslienA clavicle injury is the latest ailment that threatens Brett Favre's consecutive games streak.
• Why not start with the one player who seems to draw the most attention when he's injured? Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre lasted only a few plays Sunday before exiting with what is being called a sprained sternoclavicular (SC) joint. The SC joint is where the clavicle (collarbone) meets the sternum (breastbone). In other words, the joint is located right at the center of the chest, just below the neck. Because the other end of the clavicle forms the point of the shoulder (acromioclavicular or AC joint), an injury to the SC joint will affect the ability to throw. The SC joint is protected by strong ligaments to help prevent displacement of the clavicle and injuries here are relatively uncommon, but can occur, usually as a result of trauma. In sports, the trauma is either a direct hit to the joint (kick or blow to the chest) or a fall on the shoulder which translates force through the clavicle, injuring the joint. There can be a fracture or break of the clavicle (there was no fracture in Favre's case) or a sprain.

A sprain is any ligament injury, and as with all sprains, the degree of ligament damage determines the severity of the sprain. In Favre's case, we do not know the degree of sprain, so this could range from minor ligament damage to subluxation or displacement resulting from more serious ligament damage. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, coach Leslie Frazier said doctors did not tell him the degree of sprain but did say the injury is "not something that can surgically be attended to." The fact that Favre did not require surgery tells us that it was not the most serious version of a subluxed SC joint (typically where the collarbone is displaced behind the sternum, dangerously encroaching on delicate structures). In the absence of a surgical situation, the standard treatment is rest and ice to help control pain and swelling, perhaps some treatment of the soft tissue in the area which may be in spasm (some of the neck muscles, for instance) and then a lot of wait and see. Sometime a few days of rest will allow the bulk of the pain to resolve, depending on the severity of the injury.

Presuming Favre is medically cleared to play, the main concern will be whether he is able to throw the ball effectively. Doctors can provide pain-relieving injections for the game, but given the location of the injury, there is no external brace or harness that would offer much in the way of support. It's always important, however, to place an athlete's injury in the context of that particular player. Favre has started 297 consecutive games. If he doesn't start this week, do we really expect Favre to start again in two or three weeks? Is his career going to end with him sidelined because of pain (as opposed to not being medically cleared to play), thus fading away into the end of the season? It's a hard scenario to envision. While he may have no choice if the injury is insurmountable, at this point it's too early to bet against him. As far as fantasy owners are concerned, there are better choices at quarterback for Week 14. This could come down to a game-time decision and even if Favre starts, it's always possible that he doesn't finish. This situation is too risky on which to hang fantasy playoff hopes.

• Sticking with the Vikings, running back Adrian Peterson actually seemed to emerge from the game better than when he started it! Three touchdowns and over 100 yards would make anyone feel better, but most importantly, Peterson's ankle reportedly felt no worse after all the work. He should be good to go again this Sunday.

[+] EnlargeRoethlisberger
Rafael Suanes/US PresswireBen Roethlisberger's foot seemed to hold up Sunday, but he emerged from the game with a broken nose.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his face slightly rearranged Sunday night by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. As if Roethlisberger's ailing foot wasn't enough, he endured a bloody and broken nose and emerged victorious. Pretty impressive. Roethlisberger underwent surgery Monday to reset his nose and is expected to miss some practice time this week, which probably benefits his right foot as well. The Steelers plan to have him available Sunday.

Carolina Panthers running back Mike Goodson sprained his right AC joint late in the game Sunday. According to the Gaston Gazette, Goodson says he originally injured the shoulder several weeks ago and it was aggravated during a kickoff return by an opponent's direct blow with a helmet. Goodson seems to think the injury is not too severe, but this may have cemented Jonathan Stewart as the primary back going forward.



Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told reporters Monday that he expects running back Ryan Torain to be in practice this week. Torain actually was listed as a limited participant Friday, but the team was not comfortable returning him to the lineup just yet. Looks like this could be the week he returns, but fantasy owners beware of the dreaded timeshare.

• Another returning running back this week is likely to be the New Orleans Saints' Pierre Thomas, who has not played since injuring his ankle in Week 2. Thomas was far more active in last week's practice than in previous weeks, and the Saints were hinting even then at a Week 14 sighting. The likelihood of his return was confirmed Monday by coach Sean Payton. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Payton says he remains "cautiously optimistic" about Thomas' availability Sunday, adding, " ... I would say based on the way he practiced last week, that there is a lot of optimism he will be involved in this plan." Still, the Saints have shown that they will be cautious with a running back in his first game back (think: Reggie Bush on Thanksgiving Day) and Chris Ivory did enough last week to earn the majority share of carries. Thomas may be decent insurance for fantasy owners to have though in the event something happens to Ivory.

• There were a couple of tight ends added to the injury list Sunday. Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez rolled his left ankle Sunday, which he blamed on the slick surface at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gonzalez said he wore long cleats because of the surface and they "roll easily." The good news is that he expects to play in Week 14. Meanwhile, Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap strained his hamstring Sunday night and so far the outlook is not too encouraging for this week. Fantasy owners should plan on an alternative.

[+] EnlargeSteve Smith
AP Photo/Elaine ThompsonThe Giants' Steve Smith is hoping to return from injury in time for the fantasy playoff push.
• The New York Giants are hoping to get their two injured wide receivers back in the near future. Hakeem Nicks may be available this week depending on whether he can practice in advance. Nicks, who has a healing leg wound following a fasciotomy procedure, is hopeful to return to practice Wednesday. Teammate Steve Smith is recovering from a partial tear of his pectoral muscle. He has missed four games and could miss another, depending how this week goes. Smith hopes to try practicing Wednesday with the goal of seeing some playing time Sunday but knows he would still be limited. In fact, according to the Newark Star-Ledger, Smith says he expects to be uncomfortable for the remainder of the season. The muscle is under strain when being stretched (when the arm is extended to make a catch) and when contracting (as it would with bringing the arm across the body or pushing off) and the goal is to ensure that Smith does not suffer a setback. To that end, he will likely wear a protective harness that limits his motion but will still need to guard against overdoing it.



• The San Diego Chargers continue to be challenged by various injuries. Fantasy owners are eager to hear whether receiver Vincent Jackson will be available, something that won't be known until later in the week. The plan is to test his calf strain with some running in the early part of the week. Meanwhile, Legedu Naanee suffered an apparent setback to his hamstring and is looking doubtful for this weekend. Tight end Antonio Gates continues to have pain but also continues to fight through it. Running back Ryan Mathews was active Sunday but did not get in the game. That's one way to stay healthy.

Seattle Seahawks receiver Mike Williams returned from a foot injury Sunday only to leave the game early with a sprained ankle. The Tacoma News-Tribune reports that it is a first degree sprain (the most minor) and the Seahawks are optimistic that he could be available Sunday. More to come later in the week.

• The Indianapolis Star reports that running back Mike Hart aggravated his ankle injury Sunday. With Joseph Addai appearing still a ways away from returning, expect Donald Brown to start again Thursday night.

• Thursday night should herald the return of one of the Tennessee Titans from injury. Wide receiver Kenny Britt, who has missed time with a serious hamstring strain, is no longer on the injury report. Britt practiced last week but the Titans opted to give him a few more days. The first game back is always a big test for a hamstring injury, but fantasy owners should keep an eye on Britt's performance. If he does well, it could be a good sign for his value throughout the remainder of the fantasy playoffs.



We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 14 on Thursday and Saturday!



This week's Thursday night matchup has the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Houston Texans.



Tight end Owen Daniels already has been ruled out for the Texans, meaning Joel Dreessen should get another start. Despite being listed on the injury report with a knee issue, Dreessen participated fully in practice Tuesday and Wednesday and is listed as probable. Quarterback Matt Schaub also is listed as probable because of his knee. He practiced fully each day and will start.

For the Eagles, one of the biggest health concerns is on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Asante Samuel has a sprained left medial collateral ligament that kept him out of Week 12, and he was limited in practice throughout this week. Signs are pointing toward him playing Thursday night despite being listed as questionable, although he might not be 100 percent. Samuel will be a game-time decision. Running back LeSean McCoy has been playing through a shoulder injury and, listed as probable, likely will do so again.

Here's who you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 13 showdowns:

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
AP Photo/Don HeupelNo matter the extent of the foot injury, it looks like Ben Roethlisberger will play this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger remains in a boot to protect his injured right foot. He has been limping around the Steelers' facilities since this past Sunday's game with what was originally called a sprained foot. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger's injury was actually a broken fifth metatarsal. The fifth metatarsal is the long bone in the outer forefoot that connects the fifth toe to the midfoot. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, however, that the Steelers are refuting accounts of a new fracture. Via a statement from team spokesman Dave Lockett, the Steelers maintain Roethlisberger aggravated scar tissue at the site of an old injury. Either way, Roethlisberger has pain in his right foot, but the absence of a new fracture could be significant in that it might affect the course of treatment.

In the immediate sense, Roethlisberger has taken steps toward playing in Week 13. He shed the boot only long enough to participate in a limited practice session Wednesday, but the term "limited" might be a bit misleading. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said, "I only missed probably 10-15 snaps," adding, "It hurts because it's my plant foot, my right foot." While Roethlisberger acknowledges the discomfort, he remains confident in his ability to be able to play Sunday night, especially after putting in another practice Thursday. The Post-Gazette notes that Roethlisberger also is wearing a reinforced shoe to accommodate the foot when on the field. The shoe provides support but also limits flexibility, which can help decrease the pain associated with excess motion. Adapting to how the foot feels along with the modified shoe is perhaps the biggest key, so seeing Roethlisberger on the field early in the week is a very encouraging sign.



Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans: Collins has been recovering from a calf strain, and with Vince Young on injured reserve, that has forced Rusty Smith into action. But this might be the week Collins returns to lead the offense. He was able to put in limited practice Wednesday followed by a full practice Thursday. In the absence of a setback, expect Collins to take the field Sunday.



Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Add another ailment for Favre. Now his neck has been added to the already-listed ankle and shoulder. Favre sat out Wednesday but returned to limited practice Thursday, and I think we all know by now that he is planning on playing Sunday.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: Not surprisingly, Peterson did not practice Wednesday as he rested his sprained ankle. On Thursday, Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Peterson continues to rest the ankle and receive treatment but plans to test the ankle Friday. According to Zulgad, Peterson indicates the swelling has subsided some and he does note improvement. "I know my body better than anyone else," Peterson said, adding, "If I can go, I'll definitely be going." That's a sight fantasy owners would like to see. It certainly sounds as if there's reason to be optimistic, but Friday practice will yield better clues.



Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert, San Diego Chargers: Mathews' return to the practice field is an encouraging signal he is nearing a return. He has missed the past two weeks while recovering from the setback to his high ankle sprain, originally suffered in Week 2.



Tolbert has filled in ably with Mathews down, but he suffered a hand injury of his own in Week 12. He did not practice Wednesday but, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, that was a precautionary measure. If both backs are available this week, there is going to be a sharing of the workload. Fantasy owners would like to have an idea in advance as to just how that workload will be divided, but unfortunately, that's not likely to happen.



If we go by recent past events, when Mathews was working his way back after the initial ankle injury, his time on the field was significantly limited. It's hard to imagine, particularly with the way Tolbert has performed, that Mathews would see the bulk of the carries right out of the gate, but there are new variables to consider. Tolbert has a hand injury, and although the specifics have not been revealed, there are always concerns about ballhandling when the hand, fingers or thumb are involved. Mathews, who had some rookie issues of his own along with the high ankle sprain, was guarded in terms of playing time after the injury. This might just be a scenario that plays out during the game, assuming both backs are available.



[+] EnlargeBrian Westbrook
AP Photo/ Bill NicholsIt didn't take long for Brian Westbrook to land back on the injury list.
Brian Westbrook, San Francisco 49ers: On Tuesday, we noted Westbrook's strong performance when Frank Gore was lost to injury. We also noted Westbrook's well-chronicled injury history. Imagine the concern of many a Westbrook waiver-wire acquiring fantasy owner when he was held out of Wednesday practice because of an ankle. Not to worry ... much. Westbrook's ankle is one of the joints that needs to be protected from excessive pounding, so a day of rest following a Monday night game, especially knowing that his workload will remain elevated, is not a huge surprise. The 49ers have indicated they will control the amount of work Westbrook sees, as they don't want to risk running him into the ground too quickly. Fantasy owners hoping for another 23-touch game might be reaching a little high; Anthony Dixon probably will be balancing Westbrook more. Nonetheless, Westbrook has proved he is part of the 49ers' game plan for the remainder of the season, as long as he stays healthy.

Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins: Torain is still out with a hamstring strain and has not returned to practice as of yet. He has made some progress in that he is doing some running on the side, but he doesn't appear far enough along to return this week. Last week, Keiland Williams saw his playing time cut into by James Davis. The bottom line for fantasy owners is that it's hard to know whom to count on in Washington for the running game.

Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: Bush returned from his fibula fracture for the Saints' Thanksgiving Day game but was used in a limited role. A fumble during a punt return exposed the potential problems associated with extended downtime, but at least Bush's leg held up. Bush says he is feeling "great," according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and should see more work going forward. Teammate Thomas has returned to practice on a limited basis, the most encouraging progress in weeks, but still is likely another week or two away from returning.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins: Marshall has returned to limited practice for the Dolphins this week. He sat out Week 12 with a hamstring injury suffered during the previous game but has been able to do some work on back-to-back days. Hamstring injuries can be delicate for receivers and running backs, however, so until game time comes and Marshall is in the mix, there remains some uncertainty. Even if Marshall is on the field, the question first is whether he will be able to go full speed and then how his body is able to respond to that higher gear. Still a bit risky from a health perspective.

Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers: The above noted concern for Marshall is exactly what Floyd experienced when he first returned from a hamstring injury. Floyd tweaked his hamstring in his first game back from injury (Week 11), and while it did not appear to be a major setback, his role was limited in last week's game as a result. Floyd did not practice Wednesday but returned Thursday and is still considered in the mix for the matchup against the Oakland Raiders.

Tight Ends

[+] EnlargeAntonio Gates
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesAntonio Gates likely will be a regular on the injury report the rest of the season.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: It was great to see Gates back on the playing field but, as we noted Tuesday, he did not look fully recovered. Nor should we expect him to be at this point. The pain from the torn plantar fascia is not the type of thing to disappear suddenly. Apparently it was more painful for Gates to play than initially suspected.

Gates did not practice Wednesday in an effort to rest his foot and might not practice the entire week. At this point, he is no lock to play Sunday, but knowing Gates, he will give himself every opportunity to at least give it a shot. This might come down to another game-time decision.

Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders: Miller recently revealed that he, like his division counterpart Gates, tore his plantar fascia. This would explain why it has been so difficult for Miller to play effectively since the injury. His playing time has been limited by arch pain that increases as the game goes on. Last week, he added a contusion to his lower leg to his injury report.



A few days ago, it seemed as if Miller might be in danger of missing time again, but Wednesday he was spotted in practice, albeit on a limited basis. Interestingly, the Chargers host the Raiders this Sunday, and one of the top fantasy questions this week surrounds the two star tight ends who are dealing with similar injury concerns. Will they or won't they take the field? As both Gates and Miller know, their status at kickoff is only a part of the issue. Whether or not they can make it through the game is a far more challenging prospect and something Miller has not been able to do of late.

Other


• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice sat out Thursday, but this is likely precautionary to rest his surgical hip (Rice did not practice last Thursday, either). Percy Harvin was out with an illness, a term the team has used in the past when Harvin has had migraine episodes. It sounds like the headaches have surfaced again in what has become a routine of wait-and-see.

• Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt has returned to limited practice, but fantasy owners need not get overexcited just yet. Britt began some light running last week and had progressed enough to return to a very small amount of practice. But given the seriousness of his hamstring injury (remember, the Titans were relieved to discover his season was not over when he first was injured in Week 7), there is no reason to believe the Titans will rush him back into action, especially given the high likelihood of a setback. Fantasy owners should not expect him before Week 14.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams, who has an injured foot, did some running Wednesday but still has not returned to practice. This will be a situation to watch through the end of the week, as he could be another game-time decision.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday to rest his ankle. Sims-Walker was a surprise active in Week 12 after reporting his injury as a high ankle sprain. Although he appeared limited in that game, it's hard to imagine he sits this one out.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was a late addition to the injury report Thursday, listed as limited because of his back. While there is no indication yet that he will miss Sunday's game, what he does Friday will be telling.

• The Detroit Lions are placing kicker Jason Hanson (sprained knee) on injured reserve, which means Dave Rayner has the job going forward. The Lions also will have another quarterback this week. Drew Stanton has been practicing with the first team to get ready for Week 13 -- and probably longer -- as Shaun Hill is out with a broken finger on his throwing hand. That's two broken bones this season for Hill. Hope he's drinking some milk.

See you at Friday's injury chat at 3 p.m. ET. We'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 13 in the Saturday morning blog.



It's another six-team bye week, making fantasy replacements all the more challenging. Sitting out this week are the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars.



While teams are on bye, they are not obligated to provide injury reports. It doesn't mean they don't take up the headlines however, so we start in Tennessee.

Randy Moss, WR, Tennessee Titans: It felt a little odd to plug in the Titans after Moss' name, not only because it's his third team this year but also because Moss is not injured. So why is he here? In the injury blog? Leading us off?

Kenny Britt
Drew Hallowell/Getty ImagesKenny Britt could miss up to two months, just a couple of weeks removed from a 200-yard game.
Moss is here because I believe his move gives us some key insight into two injured players whom many have been asking about in the fantasy world the past few days. First, the team acquiring Moss just lost its biggest playmaking receiver to a significant hamstring injury. On Tuesday, we were happy to hear Titans coach Jeff Fisher say that Kenny Britt's injury was not season-ending. The Wednesday signing of Moss, however, tells us that the Titans do not expect Britt to return anytime soon. We already suspected Britt's was likely to be an extended absence simply based on the fact that the Titans were describing his condition in terms of whether it was the end of his season or not, as opposed to whether he would miss one or two weeks. As of Thursday, there are several reports indicating Britt is expected out for multiple weeks, including TitanInsider citing a league source saying Britt could be out for as long as two months.

By now, regular readers know that predictive timetables with hamstring injuries are tenuous at best. Short of a season-ending tear that requires surgery and gives a more definitive time frame, hamstring strains -- even moderate ones -- can range in healing time from several weeks to several months. Numerous factors influence the amount of time it takes an athlete to recover. The injuries can be in different locations, such as the middle of the muscle belly, where the muscle meets the tendon (most common), or near where the tendon inserts on the bone. Athletes heal at different rates and bring their own unique injury history with them (for instance, a prior injury to the same area may extend the healing time). And the style of play along with the demands of the athlete's position can impact return time. As of Wednesday, Britt was feeling better, telling reporters, "It's amazing how one day of treatment can help you out." While Britt acknowledged being out for Week 10, as far as the outlook beyond he would say only "We'll see after that." His optimism is encouraging but fantasy owners should note that if the Titans were ready to make a roster move, they should too.



Sidney Rice
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireSidney Rice could give some fantasy teams a late-season boost if he can return in the next couple of weeks.
Just as Moss' addition to the Titans reflects on the status of an injured teammate, Moss' departure from the Vikings signals another important development on that team's injury front: the Wednesday return of wide receiver Sidney Rice to practice activity. Rice, who has been on the physically unable to perform list since the start of the season after undergoing hip surgery, was removed from that list this week. Rice was then able to participate in some practice activities, which included running, catching some passes and cutting maneuvers. (Note: Rice does not have a formal designation on the practice injury report, such as "limited," for example, as he is not a member of the active roster.) The Vikings have up to three weeks to evaluate Rice and determine whether to add him to the 53-man roster or end his season. Clearly they hope and expect to do the former. In the meantime, Rice will continue to steadily increase his football activity with the obvious goal of returning to play.



While no specific timetable has been given for Rice's return, the unloading of Moss certainly suggests the Vikings are optimistic about Rice's recovery. After all, as coach Brad Childress told reporters, "He's done everything that he can do from a rehabilitation standpoint," adding, "There's going to be a conditioning aspect that's got to be met." At 6-foot-4, Rice is a sizable receiver who will have to build the endurance necessary to subject his hip to the route running, leaping, landing and yes, falling to the ground that are a part of his position. It's one thing to regain your range of motion and strength to push against resistance in the weight room. It's another to regain your fluidity of motion, physicality and confidence in a leg that has recently undergone surgery, not to mention the stamina necessary to make it through a four-quarter game.

Beyond protecting the hip joint itself, the team does not want to risk Rice suffering a significant injury to one of the key muscles that surround the hip, such as the quadriceps and the hamstring, which have not been maximally tested on the field since his surgery. Working Rice back toward football readiness as well as the speed demands of his position will be the task over the next couple of weeks. Still, fantasy owners should start paying attention to Rice now as his return could be approaching in the not-too-distant future.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: Really? Could the injury news possibly get worse for the Chargers? Apparently the answer is yes. In addition to placing receiver Buster Davis on season-ending injured reserve this week, the Chargers also saw Gates suffer yet another foot injury, this time on the opposite side. Given that Gates has only two feet to work with and both are now seriously compromised, the problems are obvious.

Gates, as most fantasy owners are well aware, was already battling mightily through toe and ankle injuries to his previously surgically repaired left foot. Now to compound the situation, Gates tore the plantar fascia in his right foot during the Week 8 game against the Tennessee Titans, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Acee's account of Gates' latest woes and the steps he has been taking to stay on the field is absolutely worth the read purely for appreciating how tough Gates has been to this point.

Antonio Gates
Icon SMIAntonio Gates' injury would just be the latest in a long list of setbacks for the Chargers' passing game.
The question becomes then, what can we expect from Gates going forward? As tough as Gates has proved to be and as willing as he has been to push himself through pain, this situation might be the one that forces him off the field, at least temporarily.



The biggest immediate problem, first and foremost, is the incredible pain associated with a tearing of the plantar fascia, the fibrous tissue that supports the arch of the foot. Judging from Gates' own description of the injury as "my foot was on fire," along with the fact that, as the Union-Tribune reports, Gates is requiring a scooter to keep his right foot off the ground, the pain is intense. How long the pain lingers and the intensity of it will be the biggest determinants in whether Gates will be able to play.



Dr. Walter Jenkins, a licensed sports physical therapist and certified athletic trainer at East Carolina University, who is nationally known for his expertise in the area of foot and ankle injuries, points out the plantar fascia has a significant nerve supply. The greater the nerve supply, the more ability to feel pain when the tissue is damaged. Whether Gates completely tore the plantar fascia or partially tore bands of tissue is unknown, but both are exceptionally painful in the short term. In many cases, however, partial tearing is even more painful and longer-lasting as some of those nerve connections remain intact. With a partial tear, even after the initial trauma, every time that partially damaged tissue is stretched there is potential to aggravate the pain.

The anatomy of the plantar fascia is such that every time the foot pushes off, the fascia is under stretch. Jenkins points out that it is impossible to perform at Gates' position without repeatedly subjecting the plantar fascia to stress and strain. "When he gets in his stance, the gastroc [calf muscle] is on stretch. It attaches to the plantar fascia and the heel pad so as he pushes off, it will be painful." And it's not just limited to receiving situations. "As a blocker, he has to push hard through that foot against a defender," Jenkins adds.

What can be done? "Not much," says Jenkins. "It is hard to truly anesthetize the area." Beyond masking the pain, there is the functional aspect of what the loss of the plantar fascia means for support of the foot. The natural treatment would be to create a supportive orthotic (foot support) that could be inserted into Gates' shoe. But as Jenkins points out, early on that orthotic can be even more pain provoking as it comes into contact with the arch. "A custom foot orthotic is intended to build up the arch to make sure the soft tissues -- such as other tendons that control the foot and ankle -- are not being overstretched. But as weight bearing occurs through the medial [inner] aspect of the foot, that orthotic is now in direct contact with the arch and it's painful."

In the short term, the issue will be how long it takes Gates' pain to settle to the point where he can do what he needs to do without pain. And it's important to remember that his left foot is not 100 percent healthy, so it's not as if he can shift more stress to that side. In the long term, there are concerns as well. Although releases of the plantar fascia are sometimes performed to help with pain, its supportive contribution to the foot is lost as a result. Over time, the excessive pronation (rolling inward) of the foot that tends to occur can lead to other structures becoming painful and problematic. Orthotics can help with an athlete's function, but ultimately won't prevent the subsequent changes.

From a fantasy perspective, it's worth rushing out to secure some insurance for Gates right away as it would not be a surprise for him to miss at least this week. But given his amazing history, he's certainly worth holding on to for the time being to monitor how he is able to progress.



Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts: At last! Some good news on the injury front. Collie, who underwent thumb surgery approximately two weeks ago, returned to the practice field on Wednesday. Collie was listed as a limited participant but was wearing gloves and catching balls. And they weren't softballs either from what I'm told. Better yet, he was out there again Thursday, meaning no setback.

Nonetheless, return to game competition requires the medical staff to be comfortable with Collie taking contact and potentially landing on his surgically repaired thumb. Consequently, a return to practice does not necessarily mean games are around the corner, but it's certainly a big step in that direction. While the Colts have not hinted at his return date, this is certainly encouraging news.



Other injury situations before Week 9


Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been ruled out of Sunday's game due to a concussion he suffered in Week 8.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson has been a full participant in practice this week and could return to the playing field Sunday. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Jackson has passed all tests and barring a return of symptoms, is expected to play. Michael Vick is also expected to start at quarterback after putting in full practices so far this week.

• Neither Reggie Bush nor Pierre Thomas appears ready to return to the running back role for the New Orleans Saints this weekend. Thomas was on crutches again as recently as last week and is clearly not practicing. And as for Bush, according to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, head coach Sean Payton said Wednesday that Bush was "not healthy enough" to go 100 percent with his cuts, burst and other maneuvers critical to his play. Payton indicated that until Bush could do those things at full speed, he would not return to practice. Interestingly, Bush did return to a limited practice Thursday and according to Duncan, Payton acknowledged that Bush was doing more but was "still not moving like he needs to." It is looking as if Bush will be held out until after the Saints' Week 10 bye if he is not able to get back up to speed.

• Running back Donald Brown might be seeing a lot of work for the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday, especially given that of the three top candidates at the position -- Joseph Addai, Mike Hart and Brown -- he's the only one who has practiced so far this week. Addai remains out with the neck/shoulder injury, while Hart, whose ankle was injured Monday night (no specifics given by the team since his MRI) is not doing any football work yet.

• Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette reports that Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams will sit out again this week because of his foot sprain. Reed says that Williams is aiming for a Week 10 return.

Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable has had to contend with several big injuries lately. Wide receiver Louis Murphy is expected out again this week with a chest contusion. Tight end Zach Miller had foot problems that limited his contributions last Sunday and was on crutches earlier this week. While Miller is reportedly off the crutches now, he still did not practice Wednesday. If he's not doing much by Friday, fantasy owners may want to consider a replacement, even if he plays. And there is still quarterback uncertainty, as Bruce Gradkowski tries to return from a shoulder injury. Cable has maintained that Gradkowski will resume the starting role as the Raiders' quarterback once he's healthy. Although Gradkowski says he's feeling better, he still has a ways to go to prove he can be game ready. This could come down to a late-week decision.



Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was limited in practice Wednesday as the result of swelling in his surgically repaired knee, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Somers reported Thursday that Wells said the swelling was the result of a reaction to an injection to the knee. Wells is saying he can play this week. There does not seem to be a huge threat to his Sunday status yet, but his situation is worth watching.



Brett Favre did not practice for the Minnesota Vikings this week but that did not come as a big surprise after the addition of a lacerated chin to his personal injury profile this week. Favre is expected to be the quarterback again this week. Of more concern is wide receiver Percy Harvin's ankle. Harvin did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of his left ankle sprain and his status for Sunday remains uncertain. We've seen Harvin play with limited practice before, so what he is able to do Friday will be key.

• In addition to Gates' injury troubles, the Chargers have two wide receivers, Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee, who are still struggling with hamstring injuries. They are not expected to return in Week 9.

Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels aggravated an earlier hamstring injury Monday night, coach Gary Kubiak told reporters. Daniels has not practiced yet this week and could be in danger of missing Sunday's game. Even if he does play, he would likely be limited.



See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 9 in the Saturday morning blog!



As many had predicted, Brett Favre started for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. He didn't finish, but it wasn't his ankle that took him out of the game. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans announced last week that wide receiver Kenny Britt would not miss any more playing time for disciplinary reasons. Unfortunately, he likely will miss significant playing time as a result of injury. And the Indianapolis Colts, well, they still found a way to win despite the overwhelming number of injuries to their skill position players that continued Monday night.

With six teams on bye again Sunday, fantasy owners need to get a jump on their waiver-wire competition. Here are some names to keep an eye on after Week 8.

Kenny Britt
AP Photo/Gregory BullAfter going off for 225 yards and three scores in Week 7, Kenny Britt had no catches in Week 8 before leaving with a hamstring injury.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans: Britt did not start the Week 7 contest after his alleged involvement in a bar fight but was electrifying for two-and-a-half quarters nonetheless. Fantasy owners were happy to hear that Britt would not miss any more playing time for disciplinary reasons and looked forward to an even more productive Week 8. But it didn't happen. Britt was forced out of the game in the first quarter by a right hamstring injury that looked to be serious when it happened. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean reported that Britt was seen "grabbing his hamstring" during practice throughout the week. Perhaps it was a sign of something bigger lurking under the surface, but it was not enough to keep Britt from practicing full speed all week leading up to Sunday's game.

Although Titans coach Jeff Fisher has indicated that Britt is expected to miss some time with the injury, he does anticipate his return. According to The Tennessean, Fisher said, If it was a season-ending injury, I would tell you right now it is season-ending. No, it is not." Fisher went on to say that there would be more information after the Titans' Week 9 bye and that until then, the plan would be to treat Britt's injury "very aggressively."

Fantasy owners know from experience that serious hamstring injuries require time, above all else, to heal and should seek a replacement now.

Zach Miller, TE, Oakland Raiders: Miller has been such a fantasy star at the tight end position that his numbers from Sunday -- or lack thereof -- came as a bit of a shock. Miller was limited last week by a foot injury that obviously compromised him during the game. The day after the game, Miller was seen on crutches, clearly a measure to take pressure off his painful arch.

Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that coach Tom Cable expects Miller to play against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. So what are fantasy owners to expect? It's hard to imagine that a painful arch will be significantly improved within a week, although the early unloading (not putting weight on the arch in order to alleviate stress on the area) may help. It would not be surprising to see Miller held out of practice early in the week. Late-week practices would go a long way toward inspiring confidence that the pain will not severely restrict Miller again in Week 9. Stay tuned.

Ryan Torain, RB, Washington Redskins: Despite his early success while filling in for the injured Clinton Portis, one of the concerns about Torain has been whether he could stay on the field. Not that his talent was ever in question, just his durability, given his history of serious injury. Fantasy owners can now be legitimately nervous, as Torain was forced to exit Sunday's game early with a left hamstring strain.

According to The Washington Post, Torain felt the hamstring pull on the final running play of the second quarter. After the game when Torain was asked whether the injury was serious, he responded with "hard to say." The Post reported that an MRI revealed no structural damage, and head coach Mike Shanahan is hopeful that Torain will be ready for the team's next game after the bye week. In the event he is not able to go, it likely would be Keiland Williams, who stepped in when Torain went out Sunday, to get the Monday night start.



Portis, who suffered a Grade III groin tear in Week 4, "took a couple plays in practice" Tuesday, according to Rich Campbell of the Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star. Although his new activity is encouraging, there is still a lot of work to be done before Portis is ready to return. Increased speed and agility work as well as tolerance of full practice will all have to come before he returns to play. The Post notes that Shanahan does not expect Portis in the lineup the week after the bye, although a definitive timetable has not been laid out.

Other injury notes heading into Week 9:


• In addition to losing Britt in Week 8, the Titans saw quarterback Vince Young leave the field early with an aggravation of his previous ankle injury. The Tennessean reports that Young is likely to rest most of this week while the team is on bye but could return to practice next week. It's much too soon to write Young out of the mix for Week 10, but fantasy owners will want to keep an eye on whether he's back in practice to start the week.



• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin caught his left foot in the turf and had to be assisted off the field in the first quarter. He ended up returning to the game shortly afterward but was clearly limping in pain following the game. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Harvin said of his ability to last the entire game, "It probably was adrenaline that got me through." Now that the adrenaline has worn off, it will be a matter of seeing just what Harvin can do on that ankle as the week goes on to determine whether he can play.



Favre
Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireEven though Brett Favre did not finish Sunday's game after a chin laceration, it appears he will keep his consecutive-games streak alive this week.
• Favre was able to move well enough to start Sunday but ended up leaving the game after suffering a chin laceration that required eight stitches to close. Initially it looked as though the injury could have been much worse, but there were reportedly no broken bones. As for his ability to go in Week 9, Favre offered this: I'm ready to play next week," Favre said. "Nobody knows my body like me. I think I'll be all right, ready to play next week." He was right last time. Whom Favre will throw to with Randy Moss gone and Harvin ailing might be the bigger question this week.

• The Colts saw yet another running back leave a game due to injury. Mike Hart, who got the start Monday night in place of the injured Joseph Addai, left the game with an ankle injury. Hart was expected to undergo an MRI on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Donald Brown saw his first game action in a month, but his playing time was limited. It will probably come close to game time again before we know who will run the ball for the Colts in Week 9.

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson showed his toughness Monday night as he continued to play despite aggravating his right ankle late in the game. As we've been saying all along, this ankle injury is a perpetual source of pain for Johnson based on the demands of his position and the physical way he plays the game. In the absence of taking multiple weeks off to let it fully heal -- which Johnson is not going to do -- the ankle has the potential to flare up during a game. As long as he can play and fight through it, he will. So expect Johnson to continue to tough it out unless or until it becomes physically impossible for him to run.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was harassed all day Sunday, and it finally caught up to him. He suffered a concussion in Week 8, but although coach Pete Carroll sounds very optimistic about his return, Hasselbeck will have to meet all postconcussion medical criteria to be cleared to play. It doesn't help matters that tackle Russell Okung suffered another high ankle sprain, this time to his left side. The Seahawks have indicated that this injury appears less serious than the right ankle injury that sidelined Okung earlier in the season, and they hope to have him back in practice this week. We shall see.

• In other Raiders news, Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that coach Tom Cable expects wide receiver Louis Murphy to miss another game to continue healing from his chest contusion. Although Murphy told the San Jose Mercury News he felt fine Sunday, he understood why the team held him out of contact. Said Murphy, "... with me coughing up blood and having internal bleeding, they didn't want to take any chances with that." Understood. Meanwhile, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski says his injured throwing shoulder (AC sprain) is now feeling better. Cable has maintained all along that Gradkowski is the starter when healthy.

Donald Driver
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireAfter 133 consecutive games with at least one catch, Donald Driver has now been held without a reception in two straight games.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver aggravated the quadriceps injury that has been nagging him the past few weeks. Driver limped off the field Sunday, and after two consecutive weeks with no receptions, it is no surprise to hear that he will not play in Week 9, according to Bill Michaels of WTMJ radio in Milwaukee.



• The San Francisco 49ers managed to eke out a victory in London but lost tight end Vernon Davis in the process, as he aggravated the ankle injury that had deemed him questionable entering the week. No official word on how serious this setback is, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Davis doesn't seem to think it's serious. The team is on bye in Week 9, so he could get some extra rest, but the Chronicle reports Davis plans to "run some routes" this week. Let's see what he actually does first, but the early news sounds encouraging for Davis' availability in Week 10.

Michael Vick is expected to start at quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Vick has returned to practice and, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, said he experienced "no soreness at all" with throwing. That's good news, but it's a far cry from taking contact. Vick's rib cartilage injury has the potential to cause him discomfort at the very least and severe pain at the worst, depending on the amount and type of contact he absorbs in any given game. So although the plan is for Vick to start, fantasy owners should keep insurance handy in the event there is a setback. Meanwhile, teammate DeSean Jackson has returned to limited practice after his concussion. His response to activity will be taken into account daily, and his status could come down to the wire.

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush was not able to return to the amount of activity he predicted last week, placing his status for this week in that much more jeopardy. Bush still has many hurdles to cross before returning to game play. Teammate Pierre Thomas appears to be even further from returning, as he was placed back on crutches last week and is doing no football activity. Thomas' situation appears murkier than it did a few weeks ago. It is worth keeping a close eye on their activity as the week progresses.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses with much more to come on Thursday.

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