Stephania Bell: Knowshon Moreno

Video: Knowshon Moreno's status

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
Stephania Bell discusses the latest on when Knowshon Moreno will return from injury.

Video: Knowshon Moreno's status

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
Stephania Bell discusses the latest on Knowshon Moreno's elbow injury.

Key Week 13 fantasy injury updates

November, 30, 2013
Knowshon MorenoJim Rogash/Getty ImagesHow effective will Knowshon Moreno be on Sunday, given his injury against the Patriots last week?
Happy post-Thanksgiving fantasy football weekend! With three games out of the way already, there are fewer fantasy choices to make heading into Sunday and Monday’s games.

Here’s what we know as of Saturday afternoon:


Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): Manning’s ankle issues are not behind him, but he’s proven he can play through the discomfort and still be effective. His biggest challenge is making sure he doesn't end up on the bottom of a pile where the vulnerable right ankle could get twisted. He certainly knows how to make adjustments, but Manning can’t be disappointed that the Chiefs will be without one of their key pass-rushers, Justin Houston, who has already been ruled out with an elbow injury.

Running backs

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, ankle (P): This is the biggest (pleasant) surprise of the weekend injury report. Based on how Moreno looked last Sunday night both during the game (coming on and off the field in the final quarter, limping significantly) and afterward (in a walking boot, on crutches), his chances of playing this Sunday appeared slim. Moreno was reportedly dealing with a bone bruise in his ankle -- and a “significant” one at that -- suggesting his status for Week 13 was a legitimate concern. After all, bone bruises are not to be ignored. A severe bone bruise can take weeks to resolve and continued trauma to the joint, even in the simplest form of high-impact weight bearing, can lead to further problems.

That's why it was no surprise when Moreno was a non-participant in Wednesday’s practice, but it was a surprise when he not only turned up Thursday, but also looked to be moving pretty well on the practice field. By Friday, he increased his workload to “full” participation, and the team was confident enough in what they saw to list him as probable.

Now comes the tricky part. While Moreno is clearly on track to play Sunday, how much of a workload can be expected, given that he is coming off the recent ankle injury? It’s reasonable to think Montee Ball could see some extra touches in an effort to off-load Moreno. It’s also reasonable to think that how much Moreno plays will be fluid depending, at least in part, on how his ankle withstands the early work. In any case, the outlook for Moreno is far brighter than it was as recently as Wednesday. Despite the late kickoff Sunday, fantasy owners can feel confident that Moreno is expected to be on the field against the Chiefs.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, groin (P): It’s no surprise that Peterson got two days off from practice this week. After all, he has recently been nursing a sore groin -- not that anyone noticed with his 146 yards rushing and a score in Week 12 -- and the team plans to continue to rely on Peterson’s legs. Coach Leslie Frazier came right out and said as much, according to ESPN's Michael Wright. “We feel like we've got the best running back in the NFL on our team,” Frazier said. “So we’re going to try to play to our strength.” He will not get any arguments from fantasy owners.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears, knee (P): Even with coach Marc Trestman’s confidence earlier in the week that Forte would be ready to go by Sunday, it’s still reassuring to see the probable designation next to his name at the end of the week. Forte hyperextended his knee in last Sunday’s game but, as noted here Tuesday, he returned to finish out the game, a positive sign. After sitting out Wednesday’s practice, Forte returned to a limited effort Thursday followed by a full practice Friday. He is expected to play as usual against the Vikings.

Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams, concussion (P): The news for Stacy got better and better as the week went on and he increased his involvement in practice. By Friday, he was a full participant and as ESPN’s Nick Wagoner notes, Stacy was cleared to play against the 49ers. Barring any surprise return of his concussion symptoms, Stacy will be on the field Sunday.

DeAngelo Williams, thigh, Jonathan Stewart, ankle and Mike Tolbert, knee, Carolina Panthers (Q): It can’t be a good sign when the entire backfield comes into a game listed as questionable; the challenge then is figuring out who is more questionable than the others. Williams may be at the top of that list, with the Panthers expressing genuine concern about his availability. Williams did not practice the entire week because of a quad contusion sustained in last week’s game, and while he has not been ruled out, there is not a lot of optimism. Coach Ron Rivera made it plain and simple when talking to reporters after Friday’s practice, saying there are "a lot of concerns with DeAngelo."

The team seems far more hopeful when it comes to the availability of Stewart and Tolbert, who were limited in practice late in the week but are expected to play.

Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals, knee (Q): Fantasy owners do not like late-week downgrades, therefore they will not like seeing this change in Ellington’s status. According to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss, Ellington injured his left knee late in Thursday’s practice. He did not practice Friday and will be a game-time decision, per head coach Bruce Arians. While Ellington sounded hopeful Friday that he would be able to play, there are the effects of a cross-country flight to consider, and the coach’s hint that he wants to be cautious with his explosive back. Even if Ellington is active, this setback won’t do anything to help his fantasy owners’ desire to see him get increased work, at least not this week.

Chris Ivory, New York Jets, ankle (P): Things didn't look so good for Ivory after he had to concede carries to teammate Bilal Powell in the Week 12 contest because of an ankle injury. He didn't miss any practice days, however, and after a limited effort Wednesday and Thursday, he returned to full practice Friday. The probable tag gives us confidence he will play. How well Ivory’s ankle holds up during the game may dictate just how much action he will see.

Ben Tate, ribs (P), Houston Texans: Perhaps the most notable thing about Tate here is that he is only listed on the injury report because of his ribs. His other injuries seem to have healed. Naturally, Tate is expected to play against the Patriots.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): As his teammate Antonio Gates noted, hamstring injuries are “tricky.” Despite coach Mike McCoy downplaying Mathews’ hamstring issue coming into Week 12, Mathews aggravated the injury in the third quarter of Sunday’s game and made an early exit. The setback didn't appear to be severe, since Mathews was back in practice on a limited basis Thursday, followed by a full workout Friday. He’s not out of the woods by any means, but he is expected to play against the Bengals.

Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, ankle (P): Gore is again listed as probable because of his ankle. He was held to limited practices this week (last week he was a full participant each day), indicating perhaps a little more soreness in that ankle, but he is in no danger of missing Sunday’s game.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, knee (no designation yet): Lynch continues to be listed on the injury report because of his knee, but he has yet to miss a game. Expect him on the field for a big Monday night game against the New Orleans Saints.

Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints, ankle (no designation yet): Sproles was inactive in Week 12 because of injuries to each leg, an ankle on one side and a knee on the other. Considering the Saints’ Week 12 game came just four days after their Week 11 contest, the move to hold Sproles out was wise. While the Saints did not offer much in the way of detail, Sproles’ return to full participation in practice Thursday suggests he is much improved after the week off. Sproles is expected to be back on the field Monday night when the Saints travel to Seattle.

Wide receivers

[+] EnlargeMichael Floyd
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsMichael Floyd is expected to play this week.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals, shoulder (P): Floyd has not only been playing, he’s been performing extremely well the last couple of weeks, despite spraining his right acromioclavicular (AC) joint in Week 10. After limited practices Wednesday and Thursday, Floyd practiced in full Friday and is expected to play against the Eagles.

Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, quadriceps (P): Marshall was limited Thursday because of the quad, but to the relief of his fantasy owners and Bears fans, he was back in full practice Friday. At probable, he is expected to play.

Cecil Shorts, groin (P) and Mike Brown, shoulder (Q), Jacksonville Jaguars: By now, the practice pattern for Shorts is familiar enough that fantasy owners would perhaps be more surprised if he was not on the injury report. Listed as probable, Shorts is expected to play as usual. Unfortunately for him, he draws the Joe Haden coverage tag this week. Brown is a different story. He is contending with an AC sprain suffered two weeks ago and sat out last Sunday’s game. This week he will be a game-time decision, according to coach Gus Bradley. The team will work him out pregame to make a final determination as to his status. For fantasy owners who are considering Brown, be sure to check pregame inactive reports.

Steve Johnson, Buffalo Bills, groin (P): Johnson has hinted all week that he would be ready to take the field this Sunday after sitting out the Bills’ last game. That game was two weeks ago, as the Bills had a bye in Week 12, conveniently allowing Johnson some extra recovery time from this latest soft tissue injury, a right groin strain. He doesn't appear to be limping into this week’s contest, either, practicing fully each day and designated as probable. It should be nice and warm for Johnson, too, as the location for this week’s game is the Rogers Centre in Toronto, where presumably the roof will be closed.

Santonio Holmes, foot/hamstring and Jeremy Kerley, elbow, New York Jets (Q): Holmes returned from his hamstring injury following the team’s bye, but the injury is clearly not behind him. In fact, one wonders if he took a step backward. Holmes was limited in practice Wednesday but did not practice at all Thursday or Friday. The Jets are calling him a game-time decision and even if he does play, it’s questionable how much he’ll contribute. Meanwhile, Kerley is on the mend from an elbow injury and only shed his non-contact jersey this Wednesday in practice. He remained limited throughout the week and will likely come down to a game-time call.

T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts, shoulder (P): There was some understandable concern when Hilton did not practice Wednesday, but that was alleviated when he returned Thursday. Hilton put in full practice efforts both Thursday and Friday, and at probable, he is expected to play.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, abdomen (P): Nicks says he could have played last week, but the Giants didn't agree. The abdominal strain that sidelined him still kept him limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but Nicks turned it up for a full practice Friday. At least fantasy owners can feel confident that Nicks will play this week, despite the late start. If only results on the field could be equally assured. It’s hard to believe, but Nicks has yet to find the end zone this season.

Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, toe/chest (D): Royal has been a fixture on the injury report, so the initial designation of questionable didn't raise a huge red flag. On Saturday, however, the Chargers downgraded Royal’s status to doubtful, according to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The chest injury Royal suffered last week appears to be the culprit (the toe has been a long-standing ailment), and he appears very likely to sit this one out.

Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks, hip (D): (Note: This section has been updated to reflect Harvin's designation.) Harvin did not practice Saturday and the team has officially listed him as doubtful for Monday night’s game. After Harvin’s initial limited outing in Week 11, the Seahawks said that he experienced only minor soreness and hinted at removing restrictions from his playing time. Head coach Pete Carroll later seemed to retreat a bit emphasizing the team would be cautious with Harvin and would manage him going forward. Perhaps this limited practice is part of the management plan, which is entirely reasonable. But if Harvin is experiencing some lingering soreness or discomfort, it goes without saying the restrictions on his playing time will not be removed.
Tight ends

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons, toe (Q): Gonzalez has come into the game listed as questionable the past two weeks because of his toe injury, but has played. While he is clearly not 100 percent, as is evident by his limited practices each day, Gonzalez is expected to play Sunday in Toronto against the Bills.

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, hamstring (P): Gates hasn't been on the injury report much in the last two years, a welcome change for him and for fantasy owners after battling plantar fascia issues for more than two years. He resurfaces there this week, however, after suffering a hamstring injury in last week’s game. Gates had two days off to rest, and despite returning to practice Friday, he indicated if the game were to be played that day, he was not sure he could have taken the field. He described the injury as “tricky,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It's one of those injuries where you can't fully grasp whether or not you can do something because it's all running,” Gates said.

Friday’s practice gave the veteran tight end an opportunity to gauge his health, and it sounds as if the vibe was largely positive, given the probable tag assigned to him. Gates is expected to play but, as he noted, it’s a tricky injury. The hope is that he can get through the game without a setback.

Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos, knee (Q): Thomas sat out last week’s game when his hyperextended right knee had not recovered to the point of allowing him to participate. Although the injury, sustained in Week 11, was not considered particularly serious in that there was no significant structural damage, Thomas still had enough soreness and stiffness to limit his mobility throughout the week. The decision to hold him out appears to have been a wise one, and Thomas was held to limited practices throughout this entire week. But as ESPN’s Jeff Legwold notes, Thomas is on track this week to play against the Chiefs.

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, back/forearm/hamstring (Q): It is not unusual to see Gronkowski on the injury report, but seeing him listed as questionable is a bit surprising. Since returning from offseason surgeries, Gronkowski has played each week, although the hamstring ailment is a new addition in recent weeks. The tag is likely a reflection of Gronkowski’s limited practice sessions. As of now, it appears he will take the field as usual Sunday.

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins, concussion (Q): Reed sat out the Week 12 game because of a head injury and remains uncertain for this week. He has returned to daily limited practices and he said he expects to play, but Washington, assigning Reed a questionable tag, appears less ready to formally commit. According to ESPN’s John Keim, the Redskins are indicating Reed will play as long as there is no recurrence of symptoms. This is a Sunday night game, so fantasy owners should have an emergency backup plan in place.


Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears, ankle: Cutler has graduated from a hard cast to a smaller brace on his left ankle, but he remains sidelined by his high-ankle sprain. The Bears still describe him as week-to-week.

Jason Campbell, QB, Cleveland Browns, concussion: Campbell was ruled out earlier in the week. Brandon Weeden gets the start for Cleveland.

Schaub, Cassel likely done for season

November, 15, 2011

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

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

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

So what is this thing they call a Lisfranc injury? There is a region in the middle of the foot where the long bones of the forefoot (metatarsals) articulate with the small tarsal bones in the middle of the foot. This joint is thus called the tarsometatarsal joint. It is also referred to as the Lisfranc joint.

Why? Frenchman Jacques Lisfranc, a field surgeon in Napoleon's army, described an amputation technique through this region to address forefoot gangrene following frostbite. There is also the story that soldiers wounded in battle would fall from their horses, but a foot would often remain caught in the stirrup, right at that tarsometatarsal joint. Such an injury often resulted in amputation of part of the foot, from the injured joint forward. In fact, amputation to that region still bears the same name (although NFL players, thankfully, don't need part of their foot amputated when they suffer Lisfranc injuries).

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

Are all Lisfranc injuries the same? No. In fact, the name Lisfranc refers to the region of the foot, not necessarily the severity of the injury. By virtue of its important location (the midfoot essentially forms the arch), any injury to this region needs to be taken seriously. That said, not all Lisfranc injuries are created equal. When the midfoot buckles, the ligaments that connect the various bones can become damaged. Ligament injury without any bony impact would be the mildest version of a Lisfranc injury. The problem is that damage to the ligaments can affect the relative position of the bones in the area, and they can shift or dislocate, which is often accompanied by a fracture. Now it's getting more serious. In the worst-case scenario, an artery passing over that area can also be damaged, affecting blood supply to the foot. A shift of the bony alignment typically requires surgery to realign the joint and provide stability. Failure to do so can result in chronic instability and pain, eventually leading to major arthritis in the area. Even with surgery, it appears that people who have suffered a significant Lisfranc injury are more at risk for arthritis down the road, simply because of the trauma to the joint.

The bottom line is that players who suffer these injuries must have their treatment managed carefully, not only with surgery, but in the postsurgical rehabilitation process as well.

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

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

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

Quick Hits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep close eye on injured Steelers

October, 6, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Hits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good news for Vick, Foster, Colston

September, 29, 2011


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

Running Backs

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

Quick Hits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tony Romo, Michael Vick progressing

September, 22, 2011


[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/LM OteroA special vest could help Tony Romo absorb hits to his rib cage and allow him to play Monday night.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: On Tuesday we outlined Romo's injury and what we learned from the Cowboys' official statement. ESPN's Ed Werder reported Wednesday that Romo is being outfitted for a special protective vest in the event he suits up Monday night. A similar vest was created for Michael Vick after he suffered a rib cartilage injury last season, something Vick credited with allowing him to play despite continuing to absorb hits. Romo is certainly taking the steps toward being protected Monday night, but will he play? Most importantly, the lung will need to show evidence of healing. Romo, who is not practicing so far this week, underwent a CT scan Thursday to evaluate the status of his injury. Those results are not known at the time of this writing, but if the lung has healed, the decision to play largely comes down to pain tolerance. Romo has shown his ability to press through pain but he also needs to show he can perform effectively and move well enough to protect himself. There should be better clues as to his status in the next few days.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: Like Romo, Vick is being evaluated on a daily basis to determine his readiness to return to action. He appeared to take another step forward as he returned to practice Thursday after going through morning walkthroughs and mild exertional and balance tests Wednesday. After suffering a concussion, all players must meet the guidelines outlined by the NFL before they can return to play. Those guidelines include: the absence of symptoms both at rest and with exertion, a normal neurological exam, normal neurocognitive tests (these are the ImPACT tests which measure how the brain processes information; results must return to baseline pre-concussion values) and clearance to return from both the team physician and an independent neurological consultant. While Vick certainly appears to be making progress, the key is that there are no setbacks with each gradient of increasing activity. If Vick is able to take part in consecutive practices this week and suffers no setbacks going forward, it paves the way for a Sunday start.

Running Backs

Arian Foster and Derrick Ward, Houston Texans: The Texans are lucky to have so much depth at running back; fantasy owners everywhere wish they could say the same. After complaining of tightness in his hamstring Sunday, Foster did not play in the second half of the game. While the symptoms of "tightness" do not sound severe, it does raise a caution flag when it comes to Foster's overall recovery, as in he's not quite there yet. With Ben Tate ably handling the duties, it looks as though he will get the start Sunday with Foster, at best, contributing only slightly. Ward, who sat out Week 2 with a high ankle sprain, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and is not expected to play.

Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams, St. Louis Rams: The news on Jackson is not as encouraging as one would have hoped it would be by this point. When Jackson, who strained his right quadriceps muscle in Week 1, took to the field to test his leg before Monday night's game, it seemed as though his return was not far off. This week however Jackson's first practice did not come until Thursday and he was still limited. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Jackson could be headed for another game-time decision. Williams, who started in place of Jackson on Monday night, strained a hamstring Monday and has not practiced this week.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Moreno and hamstring injuries seem to go hand in hand. After not playing in Week 2, Moreno returned to limited practice this week. That said, it's hard to imagine he's 100 percent past the injury by Sunday. The Broncos have to be concerned about a setback with him and may opt to limit his carries, even if he does play Sunday.

Wide Receivers

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys Bryant sat out Week 2 with a thigh bruise and now that teammate Miles Austin is potentially out for a few weeks because of his hamstring, the Cowboys would like to have Bryant back in the mix. Bryant still was not practicing Thursday making his Monday status much less certain. The team is hopeful that an extra day before game time will help his cause; his returning to practice Friday would help ours.

Quick Hits

Uh-oh. Late-week practice injury alert: Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells now has a hamstring injury to add to the list of ailments that have touched him in his young career. According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic via Twitter, Wells suffered the injury in Thursday's practice. While it's not known just how severe the injury is, we never like to see these things crop up late in the week.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin) was back at full practice Thursday after doing limited work Wednesday. Lloyd sat out Week 2 but the team could really use him now that teammate Eddie Royal, also with a groin injury, is expected to miss time. If Lloyd practices again Friday it will be a good sign he's heading for a Sunday start.

In Detroit, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who sprained his left ankle in Week 1 but delivered on the field again in Week 2, is expected to play in Week 3. Johnson is following last year's routine of doing less in practice and more on Sunday. It seems to be working for him.

New Orleans Saints' wide receiver Lance Moore made his season debut in Week 2 coming off a groin injury that cost him much of the preseason. Although his targets were limited, Moore emerged from the game no worse for the wear. After putting in a full practice Wednesday, Moore did not appear on Thursday's injury report. With teammate Marques Colston down for another couple of weeks with a fractured collarbone, Moore's health could provide the Saints and fantasy owners a boost in Week 3.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson clearly looked to be struggling with his nagging groin injury late in the Week 2 contest. He did not practice Wednesday but did return to a full workload Thursday. The question is how much this injury will affect him during play. It certainly appears as though he will suit up but he will not be fully recovered. The Bills have to hope that he does not take a turn for the worse.

It's a little difficult to know how concerned to be about the San Diego Chargers. Tight end Antonio Gates did not do much in Week 2 but whether that was due to good defensive coverage or lack of mobility -- or a little of both -- is up for debate. Gates sat out Wednesday's practice, which is likely to be a season-long theme -- but is expected to play in Week 3. Running back Mike Tolbert did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and is listed on the injury report with a calf ailment. If he's not out there Friday it's officially time to get nervous. Wide receiver Malcom Floyd is not practicing because of a groin injury and is quite possibly out Sunday.

The Oakland Raiders still list running back Darren McFadden as a limited participant in practice this week because of his shoulder but he is expected to play this weekend. In the wide receiver department, neither Jacoby Ford (hamstring) nor Louis Murphy (groin) is practicing. Murphy is expected out and Ford is not looking like he'll be ready. Then there's Darrius Heyward-Bey, who missed Week 2 after injuring his knee in practice last week. A return to full practice Thursday was encouraging. If he does it again Friday it improves the outlook for Sunday.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice has been absent so far this season after suffering a shoulder injury (labral tear) during preseason drills. Perhaps the best news on the receiver so far is that he took part in full practice Wednesday but he will need to do so throughout the week to have a shot at playing in Week 3. Given the injury, there's no expectation that it will heal. The question becomes whether Rice can function effectively and consistently.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sprained his MCL and is all but certain to miss this week and next. Whether he will require more time away from the game is up in the air.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 3 in the Saturday morning blog.

Status of Romo, Vick up in the air

September, 20, 2011

Oh yes, there were plenty of injuries in Week 2. Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost their third starter to an ACL tear. Running back (and top-5 fantasy pick) Jamaal Charles landed awkwardly near the end zone, grabbed his leg in pain and then was carted off the field. That told us all we needed to know about how serious the injury was.

There were plenty more, so here we go.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/Tony AvelarTony Romo led the Cowboys to victory Sunday despite suffering a punctured lung during the game.
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys: The biggest injury story of Week 2 involves Romo, not only because of the unique nature of the injury but because of his ability to perform in the presence of significant pain. When Romo was injured in the first half Sunday, it initially was announced by the team that he had a broken rib and wouldn't return. But return he did, leading his team to an overtime victory against the San Francisco 49ers. Upon returning to Dallas and undergoing additional testing, including a CT scan, Romo's injury was further clarified as a single rib fracture (there was some question as to whether one or two ribs had been broken) along with a punctured lung.

Here is the official statement released Monday by the Cowboys, separated into sections, with some thoughts as to what it means.

Cowboys' official statement: Additional testing on the fractured rib of Tony Romo today revealed that he also has evidence of a pneumothorax -- a condition that is not unusual for an injury such as the one Romo sustained in the game in San Francisco.

Analysis: A pneumothorax essentially occurs when air enters the pleural cavity (the space between the chest wall and the lung). One of the mechanisms that can lead to a pneumothorax is blunt trauma, most often from a motor vehicle accident, assault (knife, gunshot) or rib fracture. The more air accumulating in the space between the lung and the chest wall, the more pressure there is against the lung. This pressure can eventually cause the lung (or a portion of it) to collapse. The obvious immediate complication is difficulty breathing, and in extremely serious cases, the condition can be life-threatening. In some cases, however, when the puncture is very tiny, the symptoms are much more subtle.

It is important to note that the "additional testing" Romo underwent back in Dallas involved a CT scan, a more sophisticated imaging technique than the initial X-ray taken at the stadium. A small pneumothorax might not be visible on X-ray but could show up on a CT scan. This underscores the importance of the physical evaluation of the athlete that is taking place at the stadium. If Romo showed evidence of serious complication from a pnuemothorax, such as extreme shortness of breath, a drop in blood pressure or confusion, he would not be allowed to return to competition.

Cowboys' official statement: Varying degrees of a pneumothorax can heal in differing time frames.

Analysis: A larger pneumothorax requires insertion of a tube into the chest to help evacuate the extra air. With a very small pneumothorax, there might be no treatment at all, just observation while the lung heals. As noted above, the time to heal varies based on the size of the pneumothorax and the individual's healing rate.

Cowboys' official statement: The Cowboys medical team will continue to monitor the situation and conduct additional tests as the week progresses.

Analysis: Repeat imaging is often performed to determine how the healing is progressing. Beyond the imaging, there is the issue of how Romo is feeling. Is the pain improving? Can he breathe, reach, twist and throw without significant pain? With a nondisplaced rib injury, the primary determining factor for return to play is typically pain. The presence of the pneumothorax suggests extra caution in this case. It should become clearer as the week progresses as to whether Romo has a chance to play Monday night.

Miles Austin, WR, and Felix Jones, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Romo is not the only member of Dallas' walking wounded. Of course, there's wide receiver Dez Bryant, who sat out Week 2 with a thigh contusion (the Cowboys are hopeful he will be available this week). Fellow wideout Austin suffered a setback to his hamstring, the same one he injured in the preseason. After turning in a three-touchdown performance against the 49ers, Austin aggravated the hamstring during the fourth quarter. According to ESPN's Ed Werder, Austin is not expected back until after the team's bye week (Week 5).

And then there's Jones. One might even refer to him as the oft-injured Jones (although Bryant likely eclipses that title). Jones displayed his own toughness though returning to the game after suffering a dislocated right shoulder. The injury was variably reported as a separated shoulder or a dislocated shoulder, but Werder confirmed the injury to be a dislocation, per sources. Dislocation means the humerus (arm bone) actually slipped out of the socket (on the shoulder blade or scapula). Jones was outfitted with a harness to support the shoulder and returned to play but is feeling plenty of postgame discomfort. It sounds as if the Cowboys expect to have him Monday night. He might be in a harness again and he might not be leaned on as much if he is limited. DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice are there for this reason.

[+] EnlargeVick
AP Photo/John AmisIt took until just Week 2 for Michael Vick to leave a game with injury, this time a concussion.
Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Every time Vick takes off out of the pocket, fantasy owners cringe just waiting for him to take the big hit that will inevitably sideline him. So how strange was it that the hit that knocked him out of the game happened while he was still in the pocket? And while it was a hard hit, it was made all the worse by Vick's front-facing helmet-to-helmet collision with his own teammate, offensive lineman Todd Herremans. In the postgame conference with reporters, coach Andy Reid indicated Vick had suffered a concussion, which is what kept him from returning to the game. Vick will be subject to the same return-to-play guidelines all players in the NFL now are mandated to follow, making a prediction on his availability impossible at this stage.

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans: Originally referred to as "fatigued" by coach Gary Kubiak, Foster acknowledged his left hamstring had tightened up on him at halftime Sunday and he opted to remove himself from the game. Disappointing as this was for fantasy owners, this setback does not sound serious. Foster might not have been his explosive self in the first half, but he didn't limp off the field, either. The tightness he felt served as perhaps a good warning signal that it was best not to push his luck in his first game back after suffering a setback in the preseason. This development does create a fantasy dilemma, however, as the Texans have indicated that Ben Tate now will be the lead back, at least in the short term. Kubiak indicated it would be a "process" to work Foster back to a full load, so fantasy owners might want to observe that process before trusting his health.

Quick Hits

• The New York Giants continue to rack up injuries, with their offense almost as nicked up as their defense. Wide receiver Mario Manningham, expected to perhaps see increased targets with teammate Hakeem Nicks questionable up until game time, exited early with a concussion. Nicks did suit up for the game and delivered a touchdown, plus he felt fine coming out of the game, undoubtedly a relief for the Giants. Finally, Domenik Hixon, seeing some time at wide receiver after missing all of 2010 with a torn ACL, made a spectacular catch in the end zone. However, the catch came at a price, as he walked off the field gingerly, headed straight for the locker room and did not do much afterward. According to ESPN New York, Hixon injured his right calf, the same leg that underwent the ACL repair. It sounds as if the injury was relatively minor, but keep an eye on Hixon's practice this week.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was seen limping after Sunday's game, and now we know why. Hernandez reportedly suffered a medial collateral ligament injury, but the degree of injury is unclear. Reports of how much time he will miss have varied, but plan on at least a couple of weeks without him.

• Add wide receiver Eddie Royal to the list of injured Denver Broncos. Royal suffered a groin injury Sunday, which the Denver Post reports will keep him out two to four weeks. Teammate Brandon Lloyd sat out last week with his own groin injury but had returned to limited practice late in the week, hinting at possible availability this week. As for running back Knowshon Moreno, we saw none of him and his injured hamstring last week, so we will have to wait and see whether he turns up in practice this time around. Right now, Willis McGahee is handling the load just fine.

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

Holmes, Bryant, Nicks among iffy WRs

September, 18, 2011

After a stellar performance in Week 1, San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert gave everyone a scare when he exited the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury. Tolbert was medically cleared to return to practice by the start of the week, however, and never even showed up on the team's injury report. In other words, he put in a normal week of practice and is ready to face the New England Patriots.

Also off the injury report: Matt Cassel (QB, Kansas City Chiefs), Steve Breaston (WR, Chiefs), Austin Collie (WR, Indianapolis Colts) and Visanthe Shiancoe (TE, Minnesota Vikings)

Good luck in Week 2, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.


Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams, index finger, (P): The Rams play in the Monday night game, so it is nice to know there is every indication that he will play. On Thursday, we noted the team's optimism after Bradford returned to practice and how he was going about treating his finger . The concern after this injury, naturally, is how well Bradford can grip and deliver the ball, but those concerns were put to rest early in the week with the accuracy Bradford showed in practice. After doing limited work Wednesday and Thursday, Bradford put in a full practice Friday, enhancing his chances of leading his team in New York on Monday night.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, right wrist, (P): Dalton's bruised right forearm made it difficult for him to effectively use his wrist and hand to grip the ball early in the week, but as the inflammation has improved, so has his function. Dalton was able to do some work with the right hand Thursday (after using only his left on Wednesday) and on Friday was able to put in a full practice. He showed the team what he needed to for them to list him as probable. Plan on Dalton starting Sunday.

Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders, foot, (P): Despite being added to the injury report this week with a foot ailment, Campbell put in a full practice daily. He is expected to start in Buffalo.

Running backs

Arian Foster
AP Photo/Eric GayAfter missing Week 1, Arian Foster is looking good to play on Sunday against the Dolphins.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans, hamstring, (Q): Still the most intensely observed fantasy player in Week 2, Foster appears on track to play this week after sitting out the season opener. This really doesn't come as a shock after tracking Foster's progress throughout the past two weeks. Although he didn't practice last week, he did increase the intensity of his running workouts daily. This week, Foster returned to practice, and though he was listed as limited each day, head coach Gary Kubiak noted as early as Wednesday that Foster was taking the normal reps of a starter. By Friday, Kubiak sounded confident in Foster's recovery. With teammate Derrick Ward already ruled out (ankle, shoulder), it appears Foster is in line to start, with Ben Tate available to come off the bench. It is worth noting that Kubiak indicated Foster would likely not take his usual number of snaps, but these are the types of things that often change during the game. If Foster shows any signs of discomfort or suffers a setback, Tate could come in early. But if Foster shows that the hamstring issue appears to be a thing of the past and he's running well, he could see the bulk of the action. Despite the desire of fantasy owners to make it so, it is impossible to be certain an athlete is fully recovered from a muscle strain until he is able to prove it on the field. Game situations are more demanding and are simply not duplicated in practice. So everyone hopes for the best, knowing the week of rest undoubtedly benefited Foster in his recovery process. The Texans have shown they are interested in his availability for the long haul by not pressing him into service in Week 1. No doubt Foster is eager to prove to everyone -- even himself -- that the worst of this injury is behind him.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams, quadriceps, (Q): Like teammate Sam Bradford, Jackson plays Monday night, only his status is less certain. While Jackson maintained late in the week that there was still an "outside chance" he could suit up Monday, that chance appears to be very small indeed. Jackson left the Week 1 contest shortly after delivering a touchdown on a 47-yard play and hasn't practiced since. As noted Thursday, the team has confidence in Jackson's ability to recognize how his body is responding, but the signs are not encouraging. Even Jackson, while trying to keep the door open for a Monday night appearance, acknowledged to reporters that it's still early in the season and they want to be smart. The uncertainty, combined with a Monday night game, makes Jackson a risky play. Cadillac Williams would get the start in his place.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, hamstring, (Q): Moreno again appears on an injury report because of a hamstring ailment. Moreno has missed time in the past because of hamstring problems and it had to be a concern for fantasy owners coming into the season. This week, it's a particular concern because Moreno has not practiced at all. To complicate the fantasy scenario, this is a late game Sunday. Coming off a Monday night game (translation: less recovery time) with no practice whatsoever, it appears unlikely Moreno will be on the field to face the Cincinnati Bengals.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders, shoulder, (P): After taking his share of hits Monday night, McFadden was limited Wednesday and Thursday with a sore shoulder but returned to a full practice Friday, much to the relief of fantasy owners everywhere. The buzz in Oakland, along with the probable tag, indicates he is ready to play Sunday.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins, hamstring, (P): Thomas injured his hamstring Sept. 7 in practice and was held out of the season opener as a result. Thomas returned to full practice this week, and as his probable designation would suggest, is expected to play. Between coming off the injury and a less than stellar preseason, Thomas is not likely to get the majority of carries. Teammate Reggie Bush is expected to start Sunday, but it's worth keeping an eye on Thomas, whose role could expand going forward.

Wide receivers

Santonio Holmes, New York Jets, knee/quadriceps, (Q): Holmes suffered a knee injury in last week's contest against the Dallas Cowboys, but it did not appear particularly serious given that Holmes practiced fully Wednesday. On Thursday, however, Holmes injured his quadriceps (front of the thigh muscle) during practice and told reporters he did it while running. It's unclear whether the two injuries were on the same side, but since the quadriceps crosses the knee joint, the injuries could certainly compound one another. Coach Rex Ryan's concern about Holmes' status was evident and even Holmes, after expressing confidence about playing Thursday, told "The Michael Kay Show" on Friday that the decision would be up to the doctors. In other words, this likely comes down to pregame warm-ups and evaluation, but it also suggests Holmes is not likely to be at full strength by game time. Murky.

Plaxico Burress, New York Jets, ankle, (P): Burress played last week, practiced fully every day this week and is expected to play this week as well.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, ankle, (Q): Despite being listed as questionable, there is every expectation Johnson will play. Swelling in an ankle he sprained in Week 1 kept him off the practice field Wednesday and Thursday, but he did return to limited practice Friday. All along, Johnson did not seem overly concerned about his status and he has certainly rested during the week in past seasons in order to recover for Sunday. While it may not be a full recovery for his ankle, it's likely enough to allow him to be a big-play guy for Matthew Stafford to target.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee, (Q): Just what fantasy owners love. A Monday night game-time decision for a star player who has indicated he plans on playing but may not be up to full speed. That essentially summarizes the Nicks situation. Swelling in his knee kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday and he did only limited individual work Friday. While the New York Daily News reported Friday that Nicks indicated he would be "out there Monday" and that the pain and swelling were gone, head coach Tom Coughlin reiterated it would be a medical decision. The fact that Nicks got in a couple of days of limited work is a positive, but there's no telling how his knee will be feeling come Monday. The bottom line is if the swelling has returned to a degree where it compromises his ability to move effectively, he will be held out. On the other hand, an additional day of rest this week allows for more recovery. Given how Nicks has responded in the past and his late-week progress, the scale tips in his favor to play, but this is why they're called "dreaded" game-time decisions.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, thigh, (Q): Bryant is not only questionable, he's very questionable. After looking clearly impaired in the second half of last Sunday's game, Bryant did not practice all week because of a deep thigh bruise. Although team owner Jerry Jones sounded confident Thursday about Bryant's chances of playing, he retreated a bit from his remarks on Friday. While the Cowboys have indicated they would give Bryant up until game time, it's not just a question of desire on the part of Bryant. A deep bruise indicates bleeding within the muscle, which can render the tissue stiff and painful. The athlete will not be at full strength, will lack flexibility and, depending how limited he is, could be at risk for further injury. It would not be a surprise if Bryant sits; if he does not, it's hard to picture him performing at full capacity.

Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys, knee, (P): Last week, he was probable. He played. He scored. This week, he's probable as well. He plays again and perhaps gets more attention given teammate Bryant's status.

Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos, groin, (P): Despite telling reporters he was not injured in the Monday night game, Lloyd appeared on the injury report and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He did make an appearance Friday, increasing his chances of making an appearance Sunday. That said, he will undoubtedly warm up before the game before a decision is made. It's hard to feel confident about a receiver with a groin injury coming off a short week and practicing only once, and on a limited basis at that.

Lance Moore
Patrick Green/Icon SMILance Moore could make his season debut Sunday against the Bears, but how effective will he be?
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints, groin, (Q): Another receiver, another groin injury. In Moore's case, however, the injury was several weeks ago, he rested the first week of the season and he has been able to practice all week, albeit on a limited basis. With teammate Marques Colston out with a broken clavicle, Moore has an opportunity to be the beneficiary. It appears he might begin that campaign this week. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that, as early as Thursday, head coach Sean Payton expressed optimism Moore would play this week. That said, even if he does play, it's hard to project how much action he will see. Everyone knows by now that quarterback Drew Brees has a multitude of receiving weapons and Moore is coming off a multiweek injury to an easily aggravated body part. And he is, after all, questionable, so be sure to check pregame inactive reports.

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, foot, (Q): Crabtree will likely be a game-time decision and last week's scenario had to be a bit unnerving for fantasy owners. Crabtree, who dealt with a foot injury that required surgery in the offseason, left the game early because of pain. According to the Sacramento Bee, Crabtree later said he would likely have to play through pain all season and would just "remove himself from the game" when it becomes unbearable. Not exactly what fantasy owners want to hear.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders, knee, (Q): Heyward-Bey's status becomes more important this week with teammates Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford already ruled out due to injury. Heyward-Bey has a knee issue that limited him on Thursday (he did not finish practice after sustaining the injury) and he did not practice on Friday. The Raiders under Hue Jackson are being very mum on injuries, but there is definitely some concern about Heyward-Bey's late-week injury, perhaps even more so because the team is already thin at receiver this week. If he plays, it's not likely his well-documented speed will be up to par.

Tight ends

Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins, knee, (Q): Cooley, not surprisingly, struggled in Week 1. He did increase his practice activity this week, however, fully participating daily. It seems likely that if he could play last week, he will again this week, but how effective he can be is still questionable. Keep in mind this is an issue Cooley said he expected to have to manage throughout the season, so until we see him perform better, it's hard to have confidence.

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars, calf, (D): Lewis did not practice at all Wednesday or Thursday and was limited Friday. The doubtful tag tells you all you need to know. He is highly unlikely to play in Week 2.


This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts, neck: Get used to this one. Manning will be out for several months after undergoing a cervical (neck) fusion.

Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks, shoulder: The Seahawks spared everyone another Sunday lineup decision by announcing in advance that Rice is out for Week 2. He did do some practicing this week, though, so keep an eye on him for next Sunday.

Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now, Sundays on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET, and don't forget our game-day chat and the online version of Fantasy Football Now on starts at 10 a.m. ET for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!


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

Running backs

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

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

Wide receivers

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

More notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. No two injuries are identical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Beware of the following overused phrases:

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

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

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

And now, on to the key Week 1 injuries:

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

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

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

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

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

Quick hits

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's the last week of the NFL regular season and for many fantasy players, this is the grand finale. Week 17 always presents unique challenges as many NFL teams with secure playoff bids opt to rest key players, leaving fantasy owners scrambling to set their final rosters. This year there are some NFL teams whose playoff hopes are still barely alive or who could (or should) be playing for pride, but injuries may still force their starters to rest. And in what could be the worst scenario for fantasy owners, some teams are considering starting their main players to keep them in the rhythm of game preparation and competition, but how much playing time they get is anyone's guess.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesMichael Vick suffered a thigh contusion early on against the Vikings, and the Eagles' loss Tuesday night does help make the decision to sit him easier.
So what is a fantasy owner to do? For starters, give thanks to those teams who have already announced key players as out. Sources tell the Philadelphia Inquirer the Philadelphia Eagles have, rather unsurprisingly, ruled out quarterback Michael Vick. His thigh contusion had him limping throughout Tuesday night's game and there is no reason to further risk his health. Kevin Kolb is expected to get the start after working with the first team Thursday.

The Florida Times-Union reports Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has undergone surgery to repair a torn ligament in the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand and faces a two-month recovery. Trent Edwards is poised to start in his absence. ... The Cincinnati Bengals announced via Twitter that wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will not make the trip to Baltimore because of his ankle. And, as a reminder, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates should not be on anyone's fantasy roster (if you were hoping for a miracle) as the team has placed him on injured reserve. At least savvy fantasy owners can get a jump on picking up unclaimed backups or other more appealing free-agent alternates for these players.

While the Week 17 fates have already been decided for some, there are many others still on the fence. Here's who else you might be concerned about heading into Sunday's games:


[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireSaMark Sanchez is likely to start Week 17, but it's very possible he won't finish.
Mark Sanchez, New York Jets: Initially, it sounded as if Sanchez would be out for Week 17, but then coach Rex Ryan seemed to hint at his starting quarterback playing. Now it just sounds like a situation to avoid altogether. Sanchez's shoulder was sore heading into Week 16 and while it does not appear to be impacting him severely, the Jets might be concerned about him suffering a setback, which would be undesirable heading into the playoffs. That said, the New York Post reported Tuesday that Ryan was considering starting Sanchez "because he's hot right now." Ryan added, "We can't afford for him to take a dip. We need him to stay at this level." The Jets are trying to balance protecting Sanchez with keeping him in a rhythm, all of which points to a scenario where Sanchez starts but doesn't finish. The problem is there is no way of telling just how much playing time Sanchez will see. This is a situation for fantasy owners to avoid.

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: On Tuesday, we outlined the injury concern for Hasselbeck and the team's plans to proceed as if Charlie Whitehurst will be under center. Hasselbeck clearly wants to play in Sunday night's game, and although he was not able to practice Wednesday or Thursday, he is rehabbing diligently with Sunday's goal in mind. As Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times reports, coach Pete Carroll thinks it's unlikely Hasselbeck will play but acknowledges the door is still open. "I'm totally convinced that he's waging a battle that's against the odds," said Carroll. "He's going to make a miracle comeback if he can." This could come down to a game-time decision.

Jon Kitna, Dallas Cowboys: According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kitna, who is dealing with a left abdominal oblique injury, says that all movement feels "like you have a knife in your side." As he sat out practice Wednesday, Kitna still held out hope for a Sunday return, but the pain he is experiencing certainly casts doubt on whether he will be able to throw the ball effectively. If Kitna does not play, Stephen McGee will get his first career start.

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Most fantasy owners would not rely on Favre to help them win their championship Sunday even if he does suit up. But they might consider Joe Webb, thus making Favre's injury status relevant. Favre has yet to pass required post-concussion tests, making it unlikely he'll play Sunday. Even beyond passing those tests, Favre would need to return to a graded exercise progression to be sure his symptoms did not recur with physical exertion. The window for Favre to be able to play is closing simply because of the narrow time factor. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Favre could repeat the tests Thursday or Friday and coach Leslie Frazier has not ruled him out for Sunday's game. Stay tuned, folks. By now everyone should know things can come down to the wire in Minnesota.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills: The Bills quarterback has missed two days of practice because of his knee and it's starting to raise concern about his availability for Sunday. Fitzpatrick has been sore for quite some time but the back-to-back missed practices are more troublesome. Brian Brohm has been practicing with the first team in his absence. Friday should be telling in forecasting who will start for the Bills.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Scott A. Miller/US PresswireIt's very possible Maurice Jones-Drew will miss two of the most critical weeks of the fantasy season.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew did not play in Week 16 because of persistent swelling in his knee, and it looks as if he may be sidelined again Sunday. Jones-Drew did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Rashad Jennings would start in his place against the Houston Texans.

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: Hillis did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, allowing his sore ribs some rest after taking a shot in the back Sunday. It sounds as if the Browns plan to have Hillis available to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their best chance for that is to rest him during the week.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: Listed on the official NFL injury report with a "toe" ailment, McFadden's status for Sunday is unclear. He did not practice Wednesday and the Oakland Tribune listed "ankle" next to his name as the reason. (On Tuesday, we noted there were conflicting reports about the nature of McFadden's injury.) The Tribune notes that McFadden participated in the morning walkthrough Thursday, suggesting he would practice, but his activity level remains to be seen. According to Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Tom Cable says McFadden could be a game-time decision.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Moreno managed to see some playing time in Week 16 but left the game early after aggravating his rib injury. Moreno did not practice Wednesday but was expected to practice Thursday in an effort to gear up for Week 17. After Correll Buckhalter's Week 16 effort, however, Sunday could turn into a time-share situation, especially if Moreno is less than 100 percent.

Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints: Ivory has been on the road to recovery from a hamstring injury for the past two weeks but has not been quite ready to play. Week 17 could be different as Ivory returned to full practice Thursday. Bush was listed on this week's injury report with a "chest" injury (SC joint per NFL Network) but practiced fully Thursday and does not appear in danger of missing Sunday's game.

Wide Receivers

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Coach Gary Kubiak announced early in the week that Johnson would not practice (he has not) and that Johnson would indicate whether he is able to play (he has not ... yet). Fantasy owners will likely be waiting until the bitter end to find out whether Johnson can indeed play against the Jaguars. As of now, there is no real hint which way the cards will fall, but Johnson is a competitor who will not give up simply because the Texans are out of the playoff race. Expect him to play if he feels he can contribute, but have a backup plan in place.

[+] EnlargeHakeem Nicks
Jim O'Connor/US PresswireHakeem Nicks, who could miss Week 17 with a broken toe, is seventh in scoring among fantasy wide receivers despite missing two games with a leg injury.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: He has a broken toe, putting his Sunday status into question. The Newark Star-Ledger reports Nicks broke the big toe in his left foot in Sunday's game. When asked by reporters Wednesday if Nicks could play this weekend, coach Tom Coughlin's response was blunt and discouraging: "I doubt it." Fantasy owners who have benefited from Nicks' contributions week in and week out should attempt to find a replacement in a hurry.

Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: In what likely comes as a surprise to many, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports Colston underwent an arthroscopic surgical procedure on his knee Tuesday, according to coach Sean Payton. Duncan says the Saints are listing Colston as questionable, but fantasy owners should plan on him being absent for Sunday's game, just five days after surgery.

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson did not practice Thursday because of his sore foot and it is looking as if he may not play this weekend. This could be another blow to those who might have been counting on some big points from this big playmaker. While the Eagles have not yet ruled Jackson out, fantasy owners would be wise to plan for a substitution.

Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings: It's not a setback with the hip but a concussion he suffered in Tuesday night's game that has Rice on the injury report. He did not practice Thursday and with the short week has less recovery time than normal. Rice has not yet been ruled out for Week 17 but fantasy owners should prepare for that possibility.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Although Johnson has not practiced this week because of a sprained ankle, he is still holding out hope he can play Sunday. Johnson told the Detroit Free Press he is "just taking it day by day," undergoing treatment and trying to ready himself for the game against the Vikings. On Tuesday, we noted that Lions coach Jim Schwartz had said Johnson could miss practice and still play. It would be nice to see Johnson on the field by Friday, however, as reassurance.

Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers: It looked to be all but certain that Floyd would miss Week 17 with his still ailing hamstring injury, now his second of the season. But Floyd showed up in practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis, enough to suggest he could be available for the Chargers' finale. Wait to see if Floyd can get through an entire week of practice without a setback before getting comfortable with him in your lineup.

Tight Ends

Todd Heap, Baltimore Ravens: He returned to full practice Wednesday and Thursday, just in time to encourage fantasy owners for Week 17. It looks as if Heap is on track to play Sunday barring a setback.

Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots: Hernandez has been a limited participant in practice this week because of a hip injury. After missing Week 16, fantasy owners should be advised that despite returning to practice, Hernandez could still be held out of the game.

Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints: Shockey missed practice Thursday because of a groin injury. Jimmy Graham has clearly developed a rapport with quarterback Drew Brees and may be the better fantasy start, even if Shockey plays.

Have a Happy New Year and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 17 in the Saturday morning blog!

For those still playing for titles in their fantasy football leagues, this is the final countdown, the last hurrah, the one for all the marbles. This is also the only week of the season when all games will be played on Sunday. Of course, that doesn't count Tuesday night's game between the Philadelphia Eagl
and the Minnesota Vikings, which really is a remnant of Week 16. It also presumes that no games will be postponed because of weather-related issues. Assuming all games tip off as scheduled, half those contests will be late games, making fantasy roster decisions that much more challenging. Between some teams potentially sitting their stars in advance of the playoffs and others not risking further player injury when there will be no postseason, havoc could be wreaked on many fantasy football lineups.

Although personnel decisions may not be made until late in the week, some injury situations are already on the radar. If one of the players below is on your fantasy team, there is reason to be at least a little concerned. Start plotting your insurance strategy and keep in mind that waivers will be processed one day later than usual because of the Tuesday night game.

[+] EnlargeMike Tolbert
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesMike Tolbert was carried off the field on a stretcher on Sunday, but his injury was not serious.
• The theme for the San Diego Chargers this season has been injuries. Although they did their best to plug the injury holes by rotating personnel, it simply was too much to overcome. Now eliminated from the playoffs and just looking to wrap up the season without further damage, the Chargers likely will be without several of their ailing players. Running back Mike Tolbert suffered a scary hit in Week 16 that left him facedown on the turf for a brief period. Tolbert was taken off on a stretcher but was fortunate to come away with an injury that was less serious than it initially appeared. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Tolbert has a neck sprain and a shoulder bruise and already has been ruled out of the Week 17 game. Ryan Mathews, who picked up the load when Tolbert went down, is expected to get the start.

As far as pass-catchers for the Chargers, tight end Antonio Gates and wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Patrick Crayton are expected to miss Week 17. Gates has been nursing a painful foot, the result of a torn plantar fascia, for weeks and can now truly focus on his recovery. Floyd, who has injured both hamstrings this season, is not likely to be completely healthy by Sunday, and there is no reason to risk a more serious setback. Crayton has been out since Week 11 after wrist surgery. There had been some thought he might return for the final week of the season, but it appears he will remain out. It looks as though Vincent Jackson and Legedu Naanee will be the starting wide receivers with Randy McMichael handling tight end duties.

• The Seattle Seahawks are preparing as though Charlie Whitehurst will start at quarterback. At least that's what head coach Pete Carroll told the team's website. With Matt Hasselbeck potentially sidelined because of a left hip injury, Carroll wants to eliminate any uncertainty. As Carroll pointed out, "We're going with Charlie because we know he's ready to go and he'll be able to have a great week, practice every snap and go full speed and all that."

As far as what's ailing Hasselbeck, it's a bit of a mystery. After Sunday's game Hasselbeck denied that his back was at fault, telling reporters, "It's embarrassing, but it's more my butt." It's worth noting that low-back and hip issues often go hand in hand. Even a history of disc problems in the low back can be associated with subtle hip muscle weakness and pain. There is also the very real possibility of a completely independent injury to the hip itself. Inflammation around the joint can severely affect the function of the muscles that support the hip, making mobility and power difficult to achieve.

According to the Seahawks' website, the onset of injury occurred when Hasselbeck took a helmet hit to his hip in Week 3. He then aggravated the injury in Week 10 when trying to move quickly on a play-action play to his left, and his hip has been somewhat problematic since. Carroll says the issue for his starting quarterback is with certain types of motions. "He's not in a lot of discomfort, but when he has to turn and move and stride and all that kind of stuff, that's where it enters in," Carroll said. Carroll also said that Hasselbeck believes he'll be ready to play Sunday night in what will decide the NFC West. Fantasy owners would be advised to see what progress Hasselbeck is able to make during the week before setting their lineups in stone.

• The Dallas Cowboys saw yet another quarterback leave a game with an injury. The Cowboys lost Tony Romo to a broken collarbone in Week 7, and he was ultimately placed on injured reserve. Jon Kitna, who has been filling in since Romo went down, left the Week 16 game with what appeared at the time to be an injury to his hip. As Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas reports, however, the team is calling it a left oblique muscle injury. Kitna pretty well summed up the problem with this type of injury for a thrower, saying, "I can't do any athletic movements and things you got to do at quarterback. Anything that requires any torque." Coach Jason Garrett told reporters the door is still open for Kitna to start if he improves enough through the week. If he is unable to go, Stephen McGee will start.

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno played in Week 16 despite his sore ribs, but he didn't last, as he left the game early after aggravating the injury. Lindsay Jones of The Denver Post tweeted that coach Eric Studesville said Moreno could have returned to play, but "Buck [Correll Buckhalter] was rolling." It sounds as though the setback was not enough to keep Moreno out of this week's game.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesDarren McFadden was limited to just 45 rushing yards against the Colts on Sunday partly because of his injury.
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden injured himself during the third quarter of the Week 16 game. According to the Contra Costa Times, McFadden said he rolled his ankle, while coach Tom Cable called it a turf toe injury. Given McFadden's history of turf toe, that particular diagnosis might be more concerning. There was no hint in the report at McFadden's status for Week 17 being in jeopardy, but this will be a situation to monitor in practice.

Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson did not play in Week 16 because of the increased pain in his ankle. Coach Gary Kubiak already has indicated that Johnson will let him know if he is able to go this week. According to Nick Scurfield of, Kubiak said Johnson will not practice this week, but if he says he can play this weekend, he will. This situation could be heading toward another game-time decision.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson has an ankle issue that was giving him trouble in Week 16, causing him to leave the game in the fourth quarter. However, it's unclear whether it will be enough to keep him out Sunday. Head coach Jim Schwartz told the Detroit News that Johnson could sit out practice this week and play Sunday. If Johnson does play, quarterback Shaun Hill likely will be the one to throw to him, but that has not been confirmed.

• The New York Jets have to decide whether to rest quarterback Mark Sanchez or play him in Week 17. Sanchez and his sore throwing shoulder were the subject of much discussion heading into last week's contest, but he did not appear hindered by the injury at all. The decision may be more about keeping Sanchez in a routine heading into the playoffs as anything else. Stay tuned.

Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai saw a decent amount of work in his first game back in more than two months. More importantly, he emerged apparently no worse for the wear and should appear again in Week 17, although his number of carries may not change drastically.

• As for two running backs who sat out Week 16 -- the Jacksonville Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew and the New Orleans Saints' Chris Ivory -- it is too soon to predict whether either will be available in Week 17. Jones-Drew had swelling in his knee, and Ivory was still working his way back from a hamstring injury. Practice reports this week should yield further clues as Sunday approaches.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Check back on Thursday and Saturday for the latest injury updates affecting Week 17.

This week's Thursday night matchup has the Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Carolina Panthers in the most anticipated matchup of the season (hint: sarcasm intended). There's not even a lot to get excited about from a fantasy perspective. Thankfully, most of the relevant fantasy players are not on the injury report this week, with the exception of one or two notables.

For the Panthers, running back Mike Goodson may have helped you a few weeks back but he has not been a fantasy factor recently. Nonetheless, for those who might have raised their eyebrows when they saw his name on the injury report, Goodson did not practice Tuesday because of illness, not injury. He returned to full practice Wednesday and listed at probable, is expected to play. Still, Jonathan Stewart remains the primary running back for the Panthers as he has been since DeAngelo Williams was placed on injured reserve.

On the Steelers' roster, defensive leader Troy Polamalu has already been ruled out for Thursday night. This does not come as a huge surprise as there were hints when Polamalu missed Week 15 that he could miss additional time. The All-Pro safety is listed on the report with an ankle injury, but the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Polamalu is dealing with a strained right Achilles, an injury he originally sustained in mid-November. Polamalu continued to play with the injury, but it worsened after the Week 14 game against the Cincinnati Bengals when quarterback Carson Palmer fell on the back of his leg. The Tribune-Review cited sources saying Polamalu could miss the remainder of the regular season. Officially, he has been ruled out for only this week but fantasy owners should keep an eye on his practice activity early next week for further clues.

Meanwhile Steelers tight end Heath Miller, who has missed the past two weeks following a concussion, is off the injury report and is expected to play, barring any late setback.

Here's who else you might be concerned about heading into Week 16:

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Michael DeHoog/Sports Imagery/Getty ImagesMaurice Jones-Drew's streak of six straight games with at least 100 yards rushing was snapped last week.
• Alarms are sounding in Jacksonville after Maurice Jones-Drew sat out Wednesday and Thursday's practices because of his sore knee. The Florida Times-Union asked coach Jaguars head coach Jack del Rio if there was any chance Jones-Drew might not play Sunday and his answer was not definitive. "I hope not," del Rio said. "We're just, the way I look at it, we're always optimistic. ... We get the information to go through the week, get the feedback from the player, from the trainer, from the doctors and all that, then make a determination." Even Jones-Drew acknowledged he did not "look too good" in last Sunday's contest. It's worth remembering that there was some question about a knee issue for Jones-Drew as far back as the preseason. Jones-Drew missed some preseason practice and game time and has quieted concerns, especially recently, with his strong output. With a significant drop in performance in Week 15, however, coupled with the news that his knee is bothering him, there is reason for fantasy owners to keep an eye on Jones-Drew's Friday activity and reason to pick up Rashad Jennings, just in case. Meanwhile, teammate Mike Sims-Walker also missed practice Wednesday and Thursday to rest his ailing ankle. According to the Jaguars' official Twitter account, the status of both players will be announced Friday.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was a surprise scratch Monday night and has not shown much improvement since. Peterson had something to say about his status Tuesday on Twitter writing, "I'm rehabbing. Fully expect to go on Sunday." It's worth noting that Peterson was optimistic in advance of Monday night's game as well, and fantasy owners saw how that turned out. Peterson did not practice Wednesday, and according to Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier described his situation this way: "Very, very sore, lots of pain and makes it difficult to turn, twist and do the things Adrian Peterson does." Not the most encouraging words to start the week. Insurance is the best strategy here and if Toby Gerhart is available, he won't be for long. Although Peterson returned to limited practice, Pelissero noted that he seemed to be favoring his injured thigh. Both Frazier and Peterson indicate he is much improved over last week but also acknowledge he has a ways to go. This may come down to another game-time decision.

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster gave fantasy owners a scare when he left last week's contest early with what he described as a muscle spasm in his "glute." Foster was a full participant in Wednesday's practice, though, and appears on track to start Sunday. Head coach Gary Kubiak, while reassuring in his assessment of Foster's status, sounded the alarm bells when he referred to wide receiver Andre Johnson as a game-time decision. According to the Texans' official website, Kubiak followed up by saying, "We'll do our normal deal this week and see where he is at." Johnson has had little to no practice most weeks since injuring his ankle, which typically has allowed him to play Sunday. So far he has missed Wednesday and Thursday. We'll see if Johnson tests the ankle at all Friday.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be back running the offense this week, assuming all goes well between now and Sunday. Rodgers missed Week 15 after suffering his second concussion of the season but was back in full practice Wednesday. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said Rodgers "threw the ball with authority" in the portion of practice open to the media. Rodgers will be wearing a different helmet going forward, but it should be noted that no helmet is concussion-proof. In fact, some helmets have demonstrated better resistance to impact (and controlled studies on helmets have only studied linear or straight-line impact, not rotational, which is often how players are concussed) but the brain is injured when it moves within the skull, something no helmet can control. Still, Rodgers has passed all necessary tests to resume physical activity and barring any return of symptoms, is expected to start against the New York Giants this weekend.

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
AP Photo/Tom E. PuskarMark Sanchez cracked double-digit fantasy points for the first time in four weeks on Sunday.
• The New York Jets announced Wednesday that quarterback Mark Sanchez suffered a "slight cartilage tear" in his throwing shoulder, something that was revealed on MRI. The New York Daily News reported that Sanchez injured his arm landing awkwardly in the first quarter of last Sunday's game, yet he was able to finish. Soreness in his shoulder led to this week's MRI, but no one seemed particularly concerned about Sanchez's potential availability for Sunday's game. Until Thursday that is, when coach Rex Ryan suggested Sanchez would be a game-time decision. USA Today reported that Sanchez was limited again in Thursday's practice. His throws lacked velocity and he could not have played if the game were today. The issue is not so much whether the injury will worsen, but rather effectiveness. If Sanchez cannot start it will be Mark Brunell at the helm.

• Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes is also less than 100 percent healthy with a turf toe issue that kept him out of practice Wednesday. Holmes returned to limited practice Thursday, suggesting the injury is not of the most serious variety, but it still remains to be seen whether he can be fully effective pushing off and running routes.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis was not in practice Wednesday, getting a day of rest, according to the Browns. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported Hillis was seen limping in the locker room Wednesday, suggesting the body part noted on the report (knee) might be more injured than tired. Hillis seemed to dismiss the concern, telling the Plain-Dealer, "I feel great. ... It is a long season. It's tough on your body, but I think my body's holding up well." He returned to some form of practice Thursday, easing many a fantasy owner's concern. While he's not necessarily out of the woods, this is definitely an encouraging sign. Hillis will need his strength to face the Baltimore Ravens, who no doubt would like to erase the memory of his stellar performance against them earlier this season.

Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton knows he will be on the sideline this weekend as Tim Tebow continues to start. But what about running back Knowshon Moreno, who left last week's game early with a rib injury and was not on the practice field Wednesday. Bruised ribs are painful and even breathing hard when running can be excruciating. Moreno did return to limited practice Thursday. If he is able to do the same or more Friday, it would hint at him being available for Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber was a full practice participant Wednesday, lending more support to the idea that he could be back on the playing field Sunday. Barber has been out since injuring his calf on Thanksgiving Day. Teammate Felix Jones has a shin contusion, which also kept him out of practice Wednesday. There seems to be less concern about Jones' availability; the challenge for fantasy owners will be trying to predict how the touches are distributed if all three backs (Barber, Jones and Tashard Choice) are active. Meanwhile, teammate wide receiver Roy E. Williams was in limited practice Wednesday, a week after suffering a groin injury which kept him out of the Week 15 game. Fantasy owners should wait to see how Williams fares as the week progresses.

• Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap has been sidelined with a hamstring injury the past two weeks but returned to limited practice Wednesday. He is by no means a lock to play, but this is a good first step.

• New York Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham was questionable last week because of a hip flexor strain but delivered a solid performance (despite his team's stunning loss). Manningham appeared on this week's injury report because of his heel. He went from limited work Wednesday to full practice Thursday, however, hinting that he will be fine come Sunday.

[+] EnlargeMalcom Floyd
AP Photo/Gregory BullMalcom Floyd was a bit of a surprise scratch last week, but the extra days off may get him back in the lineup this week.
• The San Diego Chargers are trying to dry out from all the recent rainfall and trying to determine who will be available to play the Cincinnati Bengals. Running back Ryan Mathews missed Wednesday's practice due to illness but was back on Thursday. Tight end Antonio Gates has not practiced and is not expected to appear again in the regular season. Fantasy owners who have not yet made the move to replace him on the roster can do so with confidence now. And the biggest question heading into this week is the status of wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who has been beset by another hamstring injury that kept him out of last week's game. The North County Times reports that Floyd sustained an injury to the opposite hamstring in practice Dec. 14. Floyd summed it up by saying, "It isn't as bad as the other one, but it is a disappointment that I'm dealing with another injury just after getting healthy again." Floyd has yet to practice this week and his status is certainly murky heading into Sunday's contest.

• After sitting out last week's contest and undergoing a platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) injection, New Orleans Saints running back Chris Ivory thinks he is about 90-95 percent recovered, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Ivory told the Times-Picayune he could still not run at top speed Thursday but hopes to be able to play Monday night. Given the fickle nature of recovering hamstring injuries and the late game, this may be a fantasy situation to avoid.

• And finally, the Indianapolis Colts continue to watch players end their seasons prematurely. Wide receiver Austin Collie has been placed on injured reserve following his Week 15 concussion. Despite losing a receiver, they may be gaining a running back. Joseph Addai was a full participant in Wednesday practice and according to Associated Press reports, if the game were Thursday he could play. Let's make sure he's not getting ahead of himself and that he feels as good or better at the end of a full week of practice. It sounds as if Addai could return, but how much work he would see versus recent starter Donald Brown is unknown.

Have a Merry Christmas and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 16 in the Saturday morning blog!

• If Adrian Peterson didn't kill your fantasy playoff hopes in Week 14, he just might have sealed the deal this week. Peterson, who had been nursing ankle and knee injuries but was expected to play Monday night, was instead a late scratch after pregame warm-ups did not go well. Although the injury report specifically listed "ankle, knee," coach Leslie Frazier had noted late last week that the thigh contusion Peterson suffered when he collided with Tarvaris Jackson in Week 15 was what was hampering him most. As it turns out, the thigh was what ultimately kept him off the field Monday night. Frazier indicated that the game being played outdoors did not factor into the decision to rest Peterson, telling the Minneapolis Star Tribune that, based on what he saw in pregame workouts, "It wouldn't have been wise to put him out there."

• Meanwhile, quarterback Brett Favre made an unexpected start but left early after suffering a concussion. When speaking with reporters after the game, Favre certainly sounded like someone who has played his last game. His medical status should be updated later this week, but it appears Joe Webb really will start in Week 16.

• Once again, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers could not deliver fantasy points for your team as he was still recovering from a concussion. Unlike Week 14, however, fantasy owners had warning this time around. The positive takeaway is that Rodgers did travel with the team to New England and was wearing a headset on the sideline, indicating he had made some progress during the week. Still, the decision for him to rest was a medical one, and Rodgers will continue to be evaluated throughout the week to determine whether he will be able to return Sunday. Although his progress thus far is encouraging, it does not ensure he will pass all tests by Sunday, so fantasy owners should continue to have a backup plan.

[+] EnlargeAustin Collie
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireAustin Collie suffered yet another concussion in Week 15, putting his season in jeopardy.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie returned to action for the first time in a month and was delivering an excellent performance -- until he exited the game with yet another concussion. The sight of Collie motionless after another blow was disheartening and distressing, but this time he was able to walk off the field under his own power, escorted by the medical staff. The Colts remain cautious regarding Collie's health, as expected, yet they have not ruled out his return to play, either.

Coach Jim Caldwell emphasized to reporters Monday that any determination regarding Collie's return to practice or play is entirely up to the medical staff. After complimenting the skill of the Colts' medical personnel, Caldwell said, "Here's the thing, there is not a coach that makes any decision on anyone who has a concussion or anything of that nature. It's a medical decision."

Colts team president Bill Polian perhaps summed up the situation with Collie best, saying, "At this point we're certainly going to err, and we did last time when he missed a month, but we're certainly going to err so far on the side of caution you won't be able to see the other side. So we'll see how it goes. But it's too early in the week to make any kind of a judgment." Polian added that the team will want to see how Collie responds in the next 48 hours. Although the team will refrain from making a hasty announcement, fantasy owners should prepare for the likelihood that Collie will not be available in Week 16 against the Oakland Raiders.

Houston Texans running back and fantasy star Arian Foster left this week's game early, as well, but the nature of his injury was unclear. Foster had been listed on last week's injury report with a hip ailment that cropped up during Thursday practice. He was designated probable heading into the game, however, suggesting that the injury was not serious and was no major threat to his status. Immediately after the game, coach Gary Kubiak sounded as if he thought Foster's ankle was the problem. Foster later told the Houston Chronicle that he had a "muscle spasm in [my] glute." In other words, a spasm in his, ahem, rear end. The good news is that the overall picture is good for Foster heading into Week 16, but fantasy owners should monitor how he fares in practice throughout the week.

[+] EnlargeKnowshon Moreno
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireKnowshon Moreno dealt with hamstring injuries earlier in the season, but it was a rib injury that limited him against the Raiders.
Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno has been fairly healthy since overcoming his early-season hamstring injuries. In Sunday's game against the Raiders, however, Moreno took a shot to the ribs in the first quarter, forcing him out of the game. Bruised ribs can be very difficult for a running back to play through, and Moreno's status is uncertain heading into this week's contest against the Texans. Moreno is not the only Bronco with a rib injury; quarterback Kyle Orton's ribs are to blame, in part, for his not starting in Week 15. According to The Denver Post, coach Eric Studesville will start Tim Tebow this weekend over Orton. Studesville said the decision came as a result of Orton's injury and Tebow's decent performance Sunday in Oakland.

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates continues to be held out of practice, and we likely will not learn his status until game time approaches. There were rumblings this past week that Gates might not return for the rest of the regular season because of limitations with his still healing foot. Meanwhile, his teammate Malcom Floyd, who did not play in Week 15 after a setback with his injured hamstring, could return Sunday when the Chargers travel to Cincinnati. Floyd did not practice Monday, but coach Norv Turner told The San Diego Union-Tribune, "I think we've made progress." The team will not make any projections as far as Floyd's availability until at least Wednesday.

• The Chargers will not have to account for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens this week. Owens, who was already dealing with a knee issue heading into Week 15, aggravated the condition (reportedly a meniscus tear) and is done for the year after being placed on injured reserve.

• The Detroit Lions aren't naming a starting quarterback just yet, but it very well could be the return of Shaun Hill. Hill has missed time with a broken right index finger but returned to light practice last week. Drew Stanton, who had been filling in for Hill, separated his left (non-throwing) shoulder, according to the Detroit Free Press. Impressively, he was able to finish the game after taking a painkilling injection at halftime, but he might be sidelined this week for Hill. The Lions might not announce their decision until Sunday.

• It looks as if the Pittsburgh Steelers could have tight end Heath Miller back in the lineup Thursday night. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, coach Mike Tomlin said, "We anticipate Heath being fine." Miller has missed the past two games while recovering from a concussion.

• The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber and wide receiver Roy E. Williams were present for the team's walk-through practice. Barber has missed several weeks with a calf strain, and Williams sat out Week 15 with a groin injury. Meanwhile, quarterback Tony Romo finally was placed on injured reserve. Stay tuned.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 16 on Thursday and Saturday!