Stephania Bell: Malcom Floyd

James StarksJeff Hanisch/US PresswireJames Starks will miss more time in Week 5.

Four teams -- the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins -- have a bye this week and are hopefully using the time to get healthy, or at least healthier. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers are returning from their bye week with a healthier Eddie Lacy for the Pack. One other injured RB hasn't quite healed up, however.

Already ruled out for Week 5

Packers running back James Starks needed more than the bye week to nurse his knee injury back to health. He has already been ruled out for this Sunday’s game against the Lions. Detroit will be without wide receiver Nate Burleson again this week and for several more to come. The Titans lost quarterback Jake Locker to a hip injury for several weeks, but fortunately for them it was not as severe as it could have been. Even within the last day the news has improved. Locker was initially projected to miss six to eight weeks, but ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Thursday that he is now expected to miss four to six weeks.

In the case of Chargers’ receiver Malcom Floyd, he has not only been ruled out for Week 5 but he is now done for the 2013 season. Floyd suffered a frightening neck injury in Week 2 and was carried off the field on a spine board. Although Floyd was released from the hospital after the game, traveled home with his teammates and has reportedly been making progress, the decision for his long-term health was made to spend the rest of this season recovering.

Big names off the injury report

Ravens running back Ray Rice was a question mark leading up to last Sunday’s game because of a strained hip flexor, which kept him out of action in Week 3. Rice played but only saw five carries for 17 yards, perhaps a function of how the Ravens simply didn’t run the ball more. At least he came out no worse for wear, despite being on the field for over 40 snaps. Rice does not appear on this week’s injury report and should be in good shape heading into Week 5. His teammate, Bernard Pierce, didn’t run much last week either and was reportedly dealing with a calf issue, per the Baltimore Sun. He does not however appear on the team’s injury report.

Lions running back Reggie Bush ran last Sunday like there were no issues with his knee whatsoever, rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown with a few receptions to boot. Now the Lions can only hope it stays that way. The week is starting off well with Bush not appearing anywhere on the team’s injury report. A healthy Bush will face the off-the-bye-week Packers this Sunday.

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has a healthy hamstring once again and is free of the injury report designation. It would appear that his teammate, running back Rashard Mendenhall, is also off the report (at least as of Wednesday; Thursday’s report is not yet complete). Mendenhall has been plagued by various ailments, including a knee injury from the preseason and a toe injury in recent weeks. A healthy Mendenhall would be a nice change of pace.

Rams running back Daryl Richardson does not appear on this week’s injury report after spending several weeks there with a foot injury. Just how much his foot ailment was to blame for his lackluster running is unclear (he is averaging only 2.7 yards per carry), but the question is whether a healthier Richardson will even be the starter. There seems to be some mystery as to how this situation will play out, but ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner indicates Zac Stacy could now be in the mix.

Atlanta Falcons

Steven Jackson, RB, (hamstring): ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure reported last week that Jackson likely would be out through the Falcons’ Week 6 bye, and there has been nothing about this week’s practice that would suggest anything different. Jackson was present but without a helmet during the portion of practice open to the media Thursday and was officially listed as a nonparticipant. The Falcons play Monday night, so fantasy owners who haven’t already accounted for his absence should plan on doing so now.

Roddy White (ankle) and Julio Jones (knee), WR: Both receivers have been on the injury report since the first week of the season (White started the season on the injury report) yet both have played every game. Not surprisingly, both are expected to play again on Monday night when the Falcons host the New York Jets, but will things look any different than they have the last few weeks, particularly when it comes to White’s struggles with his ankle? Going back to Week 4, White actually played more and looked a little sharper than he had in the three previous outings. Perhaps time is, in fact, helping. White admitted last week to being limited offensively due to an inability to cut hard on his injured ankle, but he insisted he would continue to play until the bye in Week 6. Judging from the look of things, he should be in a better position to represent the other half of the Falcons’ dual wide receiver threat by Week 7, a threat which becomes all the more dangerous if opponents also need to account for Jackson in the backfield.

Jones has been on the injury report with a knee ailment but added a new injury to his left thigh in Week 4. While Jones doesn’t make it out to be serious, he told McClure it was “just like a little stinger.” It might not have been anything “drastic” according to Jones, but he acknowledged the medical staff tried to prevent him from returning to the game late in the fourth quarter after absorbing the blow. He returned anyway, producing more catches for the Falcons and more points for fantasy owners. Jones is a physical receiver who has shown multiple times he will routinely shrug off bumps and bruises. The hope is that White's improving health will help ease the load on Jones before he encounters an injury he can’t force his way through on the field. Both receivers were listed as limited participants in Thursday’s practice, as expected.

Chicago Bears

Brandon Marshall, WR (foot) and Martellus Bennett, TE (shoulder): Marshall was a nonparticipant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday due to a foot injury. On Wednesday, coach Marc Trestman expressed confidence that those who weren’t practicing, including Marshall, would be on the field Sunday, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Dickerson. Despite appearing with some regularity on the injury reports and a slate of surgical procedures in his past, Marshall rarely misses games (only five absences in his career) and has played in all 16 games the last two seasons. Still, with little in the way of detail and nothing in the way of visible activity, it warrants paying close attention to what Marshall does on Friday.

Meanwhile, Bennett let everyone know when he injured his shoulder in Week 2. He managed to score the game winner that week -- after the injury -- suggesting it would not threaten his playing time. So far, it hasn’t. Bennett has been given a lighter workload during the week but has consistently played on game day. This week appears no different, as he was limited Wednesday yet returned to full practice Thursday. Expect him to be ready when the Bears host the Saints.

New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram, RB, (toe) and Lance Moore, WR, (hand): No news is not good news here. Neither player has participated in practice this week after missing the team’s Monday night game. Toe injuries can be slow to heal and problematic for a player at any position, but especially so for a running back. If Ingram isn’t working by now, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything at a game level in three days. Moore won’t reveal any specifics about his hand injury, but by telling ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett that he needed to wait for the “hand to heal properly” or he would “be in trouble,” he hinted at a minimum of another week off. Hands are fairly integral to the job demands of a receiver so it makes sense, but at this point it’s hard to predict when he might return.


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

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



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

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



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



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



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

Quick Hits


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

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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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:

Quarterbacks

[+] 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
es
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 HoustonTexans.com, 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!

Good news for Cassel, bad for Rodgers

December, 16, 2010
12/16/10
1:45
PM ET


This week's Thursday night matchup has the San Diego Chargers hosting the San Francisco 49ers.

[+] EnlargeAntonio Gates
AP Photo/Denis PoroyIt appears unlikely we'll see Antonio Gates suit up for the Thursday night game.
The Chargers continue to rotate their injured players to set a game roster. It appears both running backs (Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews) are finally healthy, but the status of their wide receivers is still in question. Malcom Floyd is listed as questionable heading into the game, although it sounds as if he could be available. Floyd did not practice Wednesday after a limited workout Tuesday, but Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune suggests that this may be due, in part, to the Chargers' short week. Nonetheless, it suggests that Floyd is not completely past the hamstring injury, and with that in mind it is hard to know what to expect from him as far as productivity, even if he plays.

Vincent Jackson, who injured his calf in his 2010 debut, is now off the injury report and is clearly expected to start. Legedu Naanee, who dealt with setbacks of his own the past two weeks following a hamstring injury, is probable after full practice Tuesday and Wednesday. The most notable fantasy star of the group, tight end Antonio Gates, is not expected to play this week. The team lists him as doubtful and he has not been able to practice because of pain in his foot. Keep in mind, if Gates rests this week, by the time of the Chargers' Week 16 contest he will have been out close to three weeks. The reprieve might be able to help him return and contribute at that point. But expect Randy McMichael to start at tight end for the Chargers this week.

For the visiting 49ers, there are not many question marks from a fantasy perspective. Running back Brian Westbrook is listed as probable for non-injury-related reasons and is fully expected to play. On the defensive side of the ball, linebackers Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes have been practicing with casts on their right hands this week. Although both are listed as questionable, they are expected to play.

Here's who else you might be concerned about heading into Week 15:

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireMatt Cassel could be ready to play, just over one week since undergoing an appendectomy.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis. While no one is committing to Cassel being the starter Sunday, the fact he's back on the practice field has to at least be considered encouraging. This no doubt will be a situation in which he is progressed daily, as able. If all goes well, there is a good chance he could return to face the St. Louis Rams.

Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers is looking less likely to play Sunday against the New England Patriots. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports Rodgers has not even been allowed to return to the Packers' practice facility. Clearly, the medical staff wants his brain to rest, meaning no film study, no game plan preparation and no activity whatsoever that could interfere with healing. In the absence of any preparation, coupled with the likelihood that Rodgers will miss the entire week of practice (coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers will not practice Wednesday or Thursday and his chances of working Friday are "slim to none"), it is hard to imagine he will be ready to absorb all of the mental and physical load required to start Sunday's game. Fantasy owners should prepare to start another quarterback this week.

• Fantasy owners should know at this point that they cannot count on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre to play. While his status remains up in the air, there are so many question marks heading into Monday night -- including whether the game will indeed be played outdoors at the University of Minnesota's stadium -- that's it's best to avoid the situation. Tarvaris Jackson has a turf toe injury and has now been placed on injured reserve, making Joe Webb the likely starter, although he has a hamstring issue of his own. The Vikings signed Patrick Ramsey as insurance. Stand clear of these quarterbacks.

• As far as the other Vikings with injury concerns, running back Adrian Peterson, who did not help his fantasy owners last week, is dealing with a knee contusion that is not expected to limit him this week. Maybe if you're still in the playoffs, he can help make it up to you Monday night. Wide receiver Percy Harvin has missed the past two games because of migraines, but coach Leslie Frazier says he expects Harvin to return to practice this week. With the Vikings not playing until Monday night, there will be no official practice report until Thursday night, but at least early signs are positive for these two.

• The Cleveland Browns are making Colt McCoy the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. It sounds as if the ankle issue is far enough behind him to no longer be a concern to the team.

Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton was held to limited practice Wednesday because of "soreness" in his throwing arm and his ribs. The Denver Post reports coach Eric Studesville referred to Orton's condition as "bumps and bruises" and does not seem overly concerned about his quarterback's availability this weekend. Teammate Brandon Lloyd showed up on Wednesday's injury report as a non-participant in practice because of his calf. Whether this was some helpful midweek rest or an injury to be concerned about should become apparent as the week progresses.

[+] EnlargeMike Williams
Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireMike Williams had two straight 100-yard games in Weeks 10 and 11 before dealing with his injuries.
• The Seattle Seahawks seem to be getting some good news on the wide receiver front. Mike Williams and Ben Obomanu returned to full practice Wednesday. Williams has been struggling with foot and ankle injuries and was not able to play in Week 14. Full practice early in the week is a strong indicator of his availability, barring a setback. Obomanu, who also missed Week 14 with a laceration on his right hand that interfered with his catching ability, has returned to practice, but the Seattle Times reports that he is still adjusting to playing with something on his hands. Says Obomanu: "I personally like no tape on my fingers, no tape on my wrists or anything, but I'm going to have to do a lot of tape, experiment devices and things to make sure; I have to protect my hand No. 1, but still give me comfort to be able to catch the ball, too." The good news is he's working on getting comfortable early in the week, meaning he too should be available Sunday.

• The New York Giants' wide receiver news was not so positive to start the week. Steve Smith, who returned in Week 14 from a pectoral strain, left the game after one catch when he injured his knee. The Giants released a statement Wednesday indicating that Smith suffered articular cartilage damage and would be placed on season-ending injured reserve. His teammate, Hakeem Nicks, fared much better in his return from injury, catching seven passes for 96 yards, and emerged no worse for the wear, not even appearing on Wednesday's injury report. He will likely be Eli Manning's big target with Smith out and Mario Manningham questionable this week. Manningham left Monday's game early with what was called a hip flexor strain and did not practice Wednesday. We will see what Manningham is able to do later in the week, but he tells ESPN New York that he plans to play in the team's big matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.



• Some fantasy owners may have been concerned seeing Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw with his wrist and forearm on ice Monday night. Bradshaw is not on the team's injury report this week, consistent with his assurances that the wrist is "fine."



• Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and premature touchdown celebrator DeSean Jackson did not practice Wednesday because of a sprained foot. The team is calling him day-to-day according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, but it's hard to imagine him sitting this big game out. Stay tuned.

• The Baltimore Ravens won their Monday night game without the services of tight end Todd Heap, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Heap was listed as a non-participant Wednesday, although the team only held a walkthrough. Fantasy owners should prepare for the eventuality that Heap may not be available again this week, but his practice status going forward should give better clues.

[+] EnlargePierre Thomas
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesPierre Thomas had 68 total yards against the Rams in his first game since Week 3 and appears to be on pace for more touchdes.
• Here's something we haven't seen in a long time: Running back Pierre Thomas is not even listed on the New Orleans Saints' injury report. That's good news for Thomas, who saw his first game action in over two months on Sunday. Teammate Chris Ivory left last week's game early with a hamstring injury, which perhaps accounted for Thomas getting a few extra touches in his first game back. Ivory was listed as limited Wednesday, and his status near the end of the week likely will influence what we expect from Thomas on Sunday.



Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller is back in full practice and his performance last Sunday was the best fantasy owners have seen in a while. If Miller can continue to practice daily without a setback, he might be worth a consideration for your fantasy team, with a matchup against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber returned to limited practice Wednesday. Barber has been out since injuring his calf in the Thanksgiving Day game. As the San Antonio Express News reports, however, this may only add to the rotation at running back for the Cowboys. While Barber is far from a lock to play Sunday, when he does return he potentially adversely affects the fantasy running back scenario. Owners of Tashard Choice will want to keep an eye on Barber's status throughout the week. Meanwhile, ESPN Dallas reports wide receiver Roy E. Williams suffered a groin injury in Wednesday's practice. No word as to the seriousness of Williams' ailment, but it will be worth watching what he is able to do the remainder of the week.

• The Indianapolis Colts continue to watch players on the injury carousel. Running back Joseph Addai looks to be status quo with limited practice Wednesday. Wide receiver Austin Collie was a full participant Wednesday, though, and if he maintains that throughout the week it could signal his return Sunday. The big question then will be how Peyton Manning divides up the passes. After Pierre Garcon's big fantasy performance last Thursday, it's a little harder to anticipate who will be the lead scorer. Tight end Jacob Tamme remains on the injury report but was a full participant in practice. Expect him to play again this week.

See you at the injury chat on Friday at 3 p.m., and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 15 in the Saturday morning blog!

Matt Cassel undergoes appendectomy

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


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

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

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



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

Quarterbacks

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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

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



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

Running Backs

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



Wide Receivers

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

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

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



Tight Ends

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

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

Other


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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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



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



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

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

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

Quarterbacks

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

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



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



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

Running Backs

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



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



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



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



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

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

Tight Ends

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

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

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



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

Other


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Week 12 Tuesday injury update

November, 23, 2010
11/23/10
6:17
PM ET


San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers continues to show that he can get the job done no matter who steps in to take his handoffs or catch his passes. In front of millions on "Monday Night Football," Rivers delivered a star performance with running back Ryan Mathews, wide receiver Legedu Naanee and tight end Antonio Gates all watching from the sidelines. Mike Tolbert handled the bulk of the running game (and likely will again in Week 12) and fresh-off-the-injury-report Malcom Floyd did his part to contribute to the passing game with a couple of catches and a score (although according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Floyd tweaked his hamstring again, so stay tuned).



[+] EnlargePatrick Crayton
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesPatrick Crayton's left wrist was injured as he scored this touchdown.
But the Chargers couldn't get through the game without suffering yet another loss of a key player. Wide receiver Patrick Crayton landed awkwardly in the end zone while finishing off an impressive catch-and-run touchdown. He came up holding his forearm bent 90 degrees, and didn't let any of his teammates touch that left hand for congratulatory high-fives. Often when a person instinctively cradles his arm that way, it suggests a serious wrist or forearm injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Crayton suffered a dislocated wrist and is undergoing further testing Tuesday to determine the course of action. Since the wrist joint consists of two forearm bones (radius and ulna) interfacing with eight small wrist (carpal) bones, which in turn interface with the bones of the hand, there are many possible injury presentations. In other words, rather than speculate as to the specifics, we will wait to see what the Chargers reveal after Crayton's follow-up tests. Suffice it to say, this is not exactly good news. One might say that the timing of Vincent Jackson's return, scheduled for this week, couldn't be better. Something tells me Rivers will adjust just fine.



But how will Eli Manning adjust to the loss of another star wide receiver in the span of a week? The New York Giants, who recently saw Steve Smith go down with a partially torn pectoral muscle, have now lost Hakeem Nicks to a case of compartment syndrome in his right leg. Compartment syndrome is typically something that develops over time (chronic) but it can be brought on suddenly (acute), as was the case with Nicks, by trauma. Nicks reportedly was hit in the leg at some point during Sunday's game, according to ESPN New York, but was able to play into the fourth quarter. When Nicks arrived at the team facility on Monday, coach Tom Coughlin said the medical staff felt the need to "take immediate action." Nicks then went to the hospital and underwent a fasciotomy, a procedure whereby tissue is released surgically to alleviate pressure on blood vessels and nerves in the area.

[+] EnlargeNicks
AP Photo/Rob CarrHakeem Nicks has scored the sixth-most fantasy points among wide receivers in ESPN standard leagues.
The lower leg is divided into regional compartments, each of which contains muscles, blood vessels and nerves, and the compartments are separated by connective tissue called fascia. Each compartment functions like a container of sorts. In the presence of swelling, the contents within each compartment are subject to increased pressure, which can constrict the blood vessels and nerves and prevent normal function (picture a blood pressure cuff squeezing around the leg and cutting off circulation). The individual can feel pain and tingling as a result of the compromise to the nerves and blood vessels. More importantly, if the blood supply to muscle is compromised for any length of time, the muscle tissue will die, hence the emergency nature of the procedure. Relieving pressure on the compartment by cutting the fascia is the immediate treatment. The next steps are waiting for the wound to heal, then gradually restoring the motion and strength in the lower leg.

The Giants have indicated that Nicks will miss the next three weeks following his fasciotomy. Time to recover from such a procedure can vary from several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the extent of the procedure, how well the wound heals, and whether there are any complications along the way. It should be noted that most acute compartment syndromes are associated with significant trauma, such as fractures or crush injuries. Sometimes in sports, however, there can be a direct blow that results in a hematoma (collection of blood), which in turn creates significant localized swelling and pressure. This may be the origin of Nicks' injury. Assuming no prior history of compartment issues for Nicks, the three-week timetable would seem reasonable, assuming no setbacks. During the first week, Nicks will do very little, but as he is able to increase his activity, we should get a better idea of whether he will meet the projected timetable.

Plenty of other teams continue to adjust to injury situations and this week some have only a few days to do so. With the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be three NFL games Thursday. The Detroit Lions host the New England Patriots for the early game. Then the New Orleans Saints visit the Dallas Cowboys followed by the New York Jets welcoming the Cincinnati Bengals. Given the short week for those teams, their initial practice injury reports were issued Monday (usually they do not come out until Wednesday). For key fantasy players in Thanksgiving Day games, here's what we know about their early-week activity.

Detroit Lions: The Lions had only a walk-through Monday but still provided practice report "estimates." Among those who would not have practiced were running back Jahvid Best, quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Tony Scheffler and kicker Jason Hanson.



Jahvid Best
Kellen Michah/Icon SMIEven if Jahvid Best plays on Thanksgiving, remember that he hasn't had a double-digit fantasy game in ESPN standard leagues since Week 2.
Fantasy owners are probably most concerned about Best and rightfully so. Best has been limited to some degree by his toe injuries since early in the season. He reportedly suffered a setback Sunday and was seen getting one of his toes re-taped during the game. Ultimately, the toe situation was problematic enough to keep him from returning to the field. While he may continue to have some good days, the condition is going to persist and be a risk factor until he has lengthy time off.



The Lions' dire situation at running back has been compounded by the loss of Kevin Smith to injured reserve. Smith, who had just started to emerge following his ACL reconstruction of last year, is now recovering from thumb surgery. Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine Best being even close to ready for a full game Thursday when his pattern has been one of not practicing until late in the week. And as we saw last week, that schedule still was not enough to allow him to perform on Sunday. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that Best was in practice Tuesday, yet he still expects Maurice Morris to be the No.1 back this week.



As far as the other injured Lions, no one really expects to see Stafford anytime soon, if at all, this season, so his absence comes as no surprise. Scheffler injured his ribs in the second quarter of Sunday's game, according to the Detroit News, and is anything but certain to play. Hanson is recovering from an MCL sprain and his status for Thursday is still up in the air.

New England Patriots:The Patriots also conducted only a walk-through Monday but reported several players as limited, including quarterback Tom Brady and running back Fred Taylor. Brady, who is still listed on the report because of his foot along with his shoulder, will continue to play as anticipated. Based on his recent performances, it's hard to see the foot as a limitation. As far as Taylor, he returned to limited practice with his team a couple of weeks ago and is awaiting the green light to see playing time. Taylor seems to be as in the dark about when that will be as anyone else. The Patriots' running game appears to be in good hands so the team may elect to guard Taylor's use, even once he has been activated for game day.

[+] EnlargeReggie Bush
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireReggie Bush nearly returned to action in Week 11 before becoming a late scratch, but he might finally be able to play for the first time since Week 2.
New Orleans Saints: Despite the encouraging sight of Reggie Bush in team practice last week, he was deemed not quite ready for prime time and was held out of Sunday's game. Maybe not such a bad idea given that the team's next game is coming just four days later. Bush was listed as a full participant in the Saints' Monday walk-through practice report and is expected to play Thursday, barring a setback. Of course, the team expressed optimism that he would play last Sunday and he didn't, but keep in mind that Bush was only a limited participant in practice throughout the week. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, that's exactly what it came down to for the coaching staff, which did not want Bush's first full test to come in a game. Coach Sean Payton told the Picayune, "[Bush's] pregame workout was good. And yet I just felt like what I didn't want to do was err on the side of bringing him, just because you're wanting to bring him up."

It will be interesting to see how the Saints utilize him in his return outing. But with Bush champing at the bit to return, and the Saints feeling as if they're getting him back in good shape, he could provide a spark to the offense. Meanwhile, Pierre Thomas is not looking as if he'll play Thursday. There are conflicting reports about the exact nature of his ankle injury but the Picayune reports that Payton maintains Thomas' injury is a sprain. Either way, it appears that his return will not come before December.

Tight end Jeremy Shockey sat out Week 11 because of a rib injury and has been a limited participant in practice so far this week. Whether he will play on Thursday or not is not yet determined.

Dallas Cowboys: It's interesting that there has been so much chatter about the recent X-rays taken of Tony Romo's left clavicle fracture, as if there were some hope of a full recovery. Most bones require six weeks for fracture healing, with actual remodeling of bone continuing well beyond that point. Add to that the fact that the clavicle is notoriously slow to heal, and four weeks -- which is how much time has passed since Romo's injury -- would not likely be enough to demonstrate full bone repair. It's certainly possible that the clavicle showed some progression in healing and that's often why X-rays are taken at an interim stage, to assess how the bone is shaping up. The bottom line is if anyone was expecting Romo to return to the lineup sooner than the original minimum six-week projection, it's not going to happen. Eight to 10 weeks has been the more reasonable healing timetable estimate all along, but it is not guaranteed, and the team may decide it is not worth risk of reinjury to have him appear again this season.

Of more immediate concern, running back Felix Jones is still dealing with a hip ailment and spent Tuesday working with the rehab staff, according to The Dallas Morning News. Jones, who injured his hip Sunday yet returned to the game, did not practice Monday but said he was "doing better," according to the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram. We'll see how the team designates him for Thursday's game, but resting early in a short week may give him the best chance to play on Thanksgiving.

Cincinnati Bengals: Running back Cedric Benson came into Week 11 with a foot injury but it did not appear to hamper him during the game. At one point, Benson was forced out with an eye injury but he was able to return. He should be available Thursday.

New York Jets: Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery had a groin strain that kept him sidelined in Week 11. ESPN New York's Rich Cimini reports that Cotchery is doing light positional drills Tuesday but is still "iffy" for Thursday's game. As we've seen in the past, groin injuries are not only difficult to overcome, they are easy to aggravate. It would not be surprising if Cotchery is out again this week.

Here's who else we're talking about heading into the rest of the Week 12 contests:

Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, who injured his knee in Week 10, practiced Monday after serving as the emergency quarterback last Thursday. While the Dolphins have not yielded any information as to the specifics of the injury, the fact that Henne is participating in some level of practice is encouraging, but we'll have to see how the team designates him later in the week. Tyler Thigpen may still be at the helm.

• The Tennessee Titans had a bizarre weekend but we'll stick to the injuries. Vince Young has now been placed on injured reserve as he is expected to undergo thumb surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. Kerry Collins is still recovering from a calf strain, which was initially projected to keep him out for several weeks, and is not expected to be ready for this Sunday. Thus, Rusty Smith is likely to start at quarterback in Week 12 after stepping in last week when Young was injured. The Titans have signed Chris Simms as insurance.

[+] EnlargePortis
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesClinton Portis had a short-lived return to the Redskins' lineup after missing five games with a groin injury.
• Running back Ryan Torain of the Washington Redskins sat out Sunday with his hamstring injury, with Clinton Portis getting the start. Portis didn't last long though, aggravating his groin injury after just five plays. Considering that Portis had not been cleared to play Monday night, it's hard to imagine that he was suddenly 100 percent healthy. That said, as an athlete is recovering from a muscle strain, the only way to truly test his health once he's fully practicing is to put him in a game situation. No one ever wants or expects a setback to come so quickly, but that is the nature of this type of injury. Portis underwent a subsequent MRI and the results, according to Jason Reid of The Washington Post, "revealed nothing new. Just swelling." Unfortunately, just swelling is enough to indicate there is still some inflammatory response taking place around that healing tissue, making it less likely we will see Portis in Week 12. Meanwhile, the Redskins lost running back Chad Simpson to a foot injury and have added running back James Davis to their active roster. With Torain still recovering from his hamstring injury, it appears Keiland Williams will be the starting back for the Redskins.



Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie left the Week 11 game early for what the Colts called "precautionary reasons." Collie, who was returning to play two weeks after suffering a concussion, took some big hits in last week's game. He is not expected to play in Week 12. Running back Joseph Addai is still considered day to day, as he has been essentially since the injury occurred. In other words, fantasy owners can't plan for a scheduled return.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen says he expects to be available in Week 12. Both he and running back Jonathan Stewart will need to receive medical clearance to return to practice, and their status will not be known until later this week.

We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no chats on Friday. But check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 12 in the Saturday morning blog! Happy and healthy Thanksgiving everyone!



Week 11 kicks off with another Thursday night game, and the effect of injury is obvious in the Miami Dolphins' starting lineup. This past Sunday, the Dolphins lost quarterback Chad Pennington, who started ahead of a benched Chad Henne, in the first offensive series to another season-ending shoulder injury. Henne then stepped into the game only to leave with a knee injury that had him on crutches afterward. While the Dolphins have left the door open for Henne to return, it doesn't appear that will be anytime soon ... and it certainly won't be tonight. Tyler Thigpen will be the starting quarterback as the Dolphins host the Chicago Bears.

Meanwhile, there also is some question as to who will be protecting Thigpen's blind side. Offensive tackle Jake Long injured his shoulder in Week 10, reportedly dislocating it and suffering significant tissue damage, including a torn labrum (the ring of cartilage that adds stability to the shoulder joint), in the process. Not only is this a painful injury, but it means Long's shoulder will be significantly less stable, and that instability will make it difficult to block effectively. An unstable shoulder will feel like it slips out of place, especially when weight is forced through the arm. Long is expected to try wearing a shoulder harness for support, which offers some stability but also, out of necessity, limits motion, making it tough for Long to use his arm as he normally would. He is listed as questionable, so it will come down to game time to see whether Long can function well enough to play.

This week marks the first non-bye week since Week 3, so theoretically there are more players available for last-minute fantasy pickups. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, there also are far more injuries of significance, so the pickings might be a little slimmer.



Here's who you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 11 showdowns:

Austin Collie
Geoff Burke/US PresswireAustin Collie's return to the lineup would help Peyton Manning's numbers.
Joseph Addai, RB; Mike Hart, RB; Austin Collie, WR; Jacob Tamme, TE, Indianapolis Colts: The exciting news here is that Collie is back in the conversation. Regardless of his status for this Sunday, hearing he was back at the Colts' practice facility this week is good news indeed, especially after seeing him unconscious on the field in Week 9, then removed on a spine board and stretcher. At this time last week, Collie already had been ruled out. This week, Collie was able to put in some limited work Wednesday and he issued a statement expressing his thanks for all the well wishes following his injury. Collie, who practiced fully again Thursday, said, "Every day I feel like I am improving. And it was great to get back on the field in some capacity Wednesday." He also thanked the entire medical staff for its efforts. It still is one day at a time for Collie, but it appears possible he could return this Sunday.

Addai was said to be feeling better last week but was not in Wednesday practice. However, he did return to limited practice Thursday. Addai suffered a neck injury several weeks ago, which he described as leaving his arm feeling "dead," suggesting nerve involvement. Nerve tissue generally is slow to heal, as clearly has been the case for Addai. Hart, who injured his ankle in Week 9, has been essentially invisible since then and was still not at practice Wednesday. It appears Donald Brown could be in line for another start at running back this week.

Tamme, who was dealing with a back injury last week and reportedly was in major discomfort after Week 10, was not only a full participant in practice Wednesday, but he was not on the team's injury report. If he holds up well through the remainder of the week, he should be on the field Sunday when the Colts face the New England Patriots.

Reggie Bush, RB; Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints: Bush is expected to return at long last after missing all but the first two games of the season due to a broken fibula (the long skinny bone on the outer aspect of the lower leg). Fractures typically take about six weeks to heal, but regaining football shape, especially for an explosive, directional runner such as Bush, takes much longer, as he and his fantasy owners found out. The bye in Week 10 allowed Bush the extra time to build toward returning to practice in advance of this Sunday's game.



Thomas is not yet practicing with the team. The Saints continue to hold out hope he will recover enough from his ankle injury to contribute late in the season. Along those lines, coach Sean Payton issued the first positive words with regard to Thomas' recovery on Thursday, telling the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "I think we've turned a corner." Although Thomas is not doing team practice, he is working out on the field in pads, meaning he is putting his ankle through some of the necessary paces, just in the absence of traffic where it would be easier to aggravate it. While it doesn't appear that Thomas will bridge the gap to being ready for this week, it's starting to sound like he could be a late-season contributor for the Saints and for needy fantasy owners.



Ryan Mathews, RB; Malcom Floyd, WR; Legedu Naanee, WR; Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: We start with the good news in San Diego that Floyd's return is imminent. Floyd, who suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, has been back at practice and has been running full speed since last week. Assuming there are no setbacks, Floyd is expected to play Sunday.

And then there is the not so good news. Rookie running back Mathews suffered a setback to his right ankle in Week 10, and it appears he might be forced to take some time off. Not a bad idea, given that Mathews has struggled intermittently since the initial injury to get his ankle back to full strength. Meanwhile, Naanee had not improved enough from his hamstring injury to rejoin his teammates in practice, although he did do some individual drills, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gates, who recently assessed his chances of playing Monday night at 50-50, did not practice with the team Wednesday, not altogether surprising given his injury, a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He has made some progress, though, as he has begun light running, a big step considering how much load that places on his injured arch. Gates admits being frustrated by this injury, which has sidelined him for the first time in his professional career, but he might not have much choice other than to wait for more healing.

Matt Schaub
Brett Davis/US PresswireMatt Schaub has three 20-point fantasy games this season but also five games with fewer than 10 points.
Matt Schaub, QB; Andre Johnson, WR; Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans: Schaub spent some time in the hospital this week, which undoubtedly caused some alarm among fantasy owners. Not to panic yet; it might not be as dire as you think. Schaub was being treated in the hospital for a "bursa sac issue" in his knee, according to coach Gary Kubiak. An inflamed bursa sac is known as bursitis, but one usually lands in the hospital when there is an infection. The idea is to treat the individual with IV antibiotics in the hope that the infection will resolve and no surgery will be required. (You might recall when Peyton Manning underwent surgery to address a bursa sac infection a couple of years ago.) Presumably Schaub was dealing with an early infection. He now has been discharged from the hospital and participated in light practice Thursday. Depending on how he feels and how well his knee is responding, Schaub is expected to be on the field for the Texans this week.

Johnson is expected to continue his routine of resting his sore ankle early in the week and playing Sunday. Daniels, who sat out last week after aggravating his hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday.

Brett Favre, QB; Percy Harvin, WR; Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings: By now, everyone knows Favre's ailments are too numerous to all be included on the Vikings' weekly injury report. By now, everyone also expects Favre to play, regardless of what's ailing him. After the Week 10 contest, Favre told ESPN's Ed Werder that he had concerns about the health of his right (throwing) shoulder and acknowledged having increased pain that might have affected his performance. Within a couple of days and amid some confusion as to whether this was a serious issue, Favre's own level of concern seemed to subside. After all, his is not a pristine shoulder, despite surgery last year to address a partially torn biceps tendon. It's going to be painful and problematic from time to time. No doubt Favre has recently increased the strain on his shoulder, whether as a function of compensating for the elbow pain he's been experiencing, the limitations in his ankle or both, and the pain is a natural secondary effect. The temporary solution will continue to be limited work early in the week with the goal of playing Sundays.



Harvin continues to play through pain and discomfort, even when his practice reps are limited during the week. Harvin put in limited reps Wednesday and is again expected to play this week.

Sidney Rice
AP Photo/Andy KingSidney Rice has to be activated by next Wednesday or he'll miss the rest of the season.
When Rice did not play this past Sunday after his practice activity during the week suggested he might, questions about whether he would play at all this season began to emerge. Rice addressed those questions Wednesday, saying that the sole issue for him is confidence in his surgical hip. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Rice wrote on his blog that the reason he did not play last Sunday was because he was "feeling significant discomfort Friday and Saturday." Rice also referred to undergoing a "very serious" procedure in August, although no one has specified what exactly Rice had done, making his timeline thus far hard to assess.

This reluctance to return before feeling fully healthy is not surprising and is a common issue for athletes coming off major surgery. It's an interesting quandary for an athlete in Rice's situation, and he already has said he does not want to return in a limited capacity. Rice knows what type of statistics he put up last season. He doesn't want to come back and be a lesser player after surgery or risk reinjury. And there's no denying his future is at stake. If Rice comes back a step slow or a bit hesitant because of lack of confidence in his leg or, worse yet, suffers even a minor setback, he potentially hurts the team now and himself down the road.

Even with those considerations, it's hard to imagine Rice not playing at all unless he truly believes he is not fully healthy. But the deadline for him to be activated in order to be eligible to play this season is next Wednesday. Whether he will meet that target is unclear.

DeAngelo Williams, RB; Jonathan Stewart, RB; Jimmy Clausen QB, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers lost Williams to injured reserve this week because of a foot injury. According to coach John Fox, Williams would have needed another couple of weeks to get healthy and the team needed the roster spot. No doubt, since the Panthers have dealt with a multitude of injuries, especially at the running back and quarterback position.

Stewart, who suffered a concussion in Week 9 that kept him out of the Week 10 lineup, has not practiced this week and is unlikely to play. It appears Mike Goodson will make another start. At the quarterback position, Clausen, starting for the injured Matt Moore, suffered a concussion in Week 10 and has not practiced. In what some considered a bit of a surprise move, Fox indicated that Brian St. Pierre, who has just one week of practice with the Panthers, will be the starter this week as opposed to rookie Tony Pike.



Vince Young, QB; Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee Titans: Collins suffered a calf strain in Week 10 when he started in place of the less-than-100 percent-healthy Young. Collins is expected to miss several weeks, so the question becomes: Will Young be healthy enough to effectively lead the team this Sunday? Apparently, the answer is yes. Young, who has been trying to get past an ankle injury, was not on Wednesday's injury report, so expect him to be the starter in Week 11.



Tom Brady, QB, Fred Taylor, RB, New England Patriots: Brady had a foot sprain that caused him to miss practice one day last week. You knew it had to be bothering him because Brady rarely sits out. But it sure didn't look like it bothered him Sunday when he was tearing apart the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Assume that Brady will be at the helm when his team faces the Indianapolis Colts this week.

As for Taylor, he seems to be making gains in his recovery from toe injuries, as he increased his practice activity last week. Keep an eye on him, as he just might be available to help out in the next couple of weeks.

And elsewhere ...

• The Detroit Lions got wide receiver Calvin Johnson back in practice Thursday after a day of rest. Running back Jahvid Best skipped both Wednesday and Thursday practices, a reminder that his turf toe injuries are not completely behind him. Best likely will continue to play but has not shown his early-season form since the toe problems came about.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been in practice this week despite cracking a bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist. There seems to be little doubt that he will be running the offense Sunday.

Beanie Wells
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireBeanie Wells has just 34 fantasy points this season.
Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells returned to practice this week. Both Wells and coach Ken Whisenhunt said at the start of the week that they expected him to practice every day and play Sunday. But what can fantasy owners count on? Not much, based on the season so far. It isn't to say that Wells can't be productive; it's just that he hasn't been. His knee has been an issue since Week 1, and the resulting missed practice time has contributed to his limited productivity on game days. And there's no guarantee that the recurring swelling is behind him. Wells says he feels the best he has since surgery, which is great news, but will it last? Even if he's on the field, it's hard to have confidence in what Wells will bring until we actually see him deliver it.

Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain has not practiced since his hamstring tightened up Monday night, preventing him from taking the field despite being active. It certainly does not look good for Sunday. Clinton Portis continues to be limited in practice with the groin injury. All signs are pointing to another Keiland Williams start.

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a pectoral (chest) strain a week ago and missed this past Sunday's contest as a result. Reports have varied on the amount of time he's expected to miss, but he is not practicing yet and should not be in fantasy lineups this week.

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday due to a shoulder injury. He was back Thursday, however, a good sign for fantasy owners that he expects to play.



• On the concussion front, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward suffered one in Week 10, as did Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki. Ward was cleared to return to practice and participated fully Wednesday. Barring a setback, he should play this week. Moeaki did not practice Wednesday, and his status remains questionable.

Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini said early in the week that he was hopeful receiver Josh Cribbs could play Sunday despite dislocating four toes last week. Apparently Mangini has not had four toes dislocate simultaneously. And then tried to run. Fast. It sounded a bit optimistic at the time, and Cribbs has not been in practice this week. It's not looking great for his return as of now.

See you at Friday's injury chat (3-4 p.m. ET), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog.

Dolphins QBs among Week 10 injuries

November, 16, 2010
11/16/10
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This seems like as good a time as any to remind everyone that medicine is not black and white. Sometimes, even when a player is improving in his recovery from an injury, there can be last-minute setbacks. Exhibit A: Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain, who was active (yes, active!) Monday night but did not play due to his hamstring tightening up during warm-ups. It was just late enough to burn every fantasy owner who expected him to play. (Remember, he was listed as questionable, and until a questionable player is actually playing, he remains just that.)



Other times, a player does not return within the projected timetable originally issued by medical personnel. Exhibit B: New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, initially projected to miss four to six weeks with a broken fibula (and you might recall Bush suggesting early on that he could beat that timeline). Bush, who is expected to return this Sunday, will be nine weeks post-injury if he plays in Week 11. While his fracture has healed, the issue has been his readiness to return to competition given the high physical demands of his position.

How do these things happen? Fantasy owners would prefer absolutes, definitive answers and zero risk. Let's tell the truth. The injured players and their teams would prefer that as well. But medicine is an imprecise science. And as much as it would be nice to provide guarantees and certainties when it comes to healing, that simply is not possible, whether it refers to a professional athlete or a weekend warrior. For one thing, individuals heal at different rates. Beyond that, timetables are estimates based on the average healing time associated with a particular injury. Timetables presume no setbacks and no complications, which, as we all know, are more likely to occur than not. And then there are the vagaries of injury classification. A "partial tear" can be 25 percent, 40 percent or 75 percent tissue damage, or anything else not considered a complete tear. The amount of damage likely will correlate to healing time, albeit in an imprecise way (refer to exhibits A and B above).

And so, as we continue in the gray zone of injuries, here's what we're hearing heading into Week 11 ...

Chad Henne
Jonathan Brownfield/US PresswireChad Henne had a busy week, as he was benched, returned to the Dolphins' lineup, then injured his knee.
• To date, the Miami Dolphins' injury reports have been among the leanest in the league. Not so any longer. The Dolphins lost two quarterbacks within the span of minutes this past Sunday, one of whom is done for the season. Chad Pennington injured his oft-operated-on shoulder and was done in the span of two plays. Chad Henne, who had been benched in favor of Pennington, stepped in only to suffer what appeared to be a serious injury to his left knee. Henne was on crutches after the game but has not been ruled out for any particular period of time. While the Dolphins have not offered details as to the nature of Henne's injury, coach Tony Sparano has left the door open for Henne. Needless to say, it does not appear likely he will be in any shape to play in this Thursday night's game. Expect Tyler Thigpen to get the start.

• The Tennessee Titans also have two banged up quarterbacks. Vince Young did not get the start Sunday, as his left ankle was still causing him some problems. Kerry Collins, who started in place of Young, was forced out early with a calf injury, and it now appears that will keep him out for several weeks. Young was thus forced into the game but was not at his best.



Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford consulted with Dr. James Andrews and will not be having surgery, at least not yet. Stafford will resume the rehab process he initiated after his shoulder separation at the start of the season. There is still a possibility surgery will become an option, but the team will try more conservative treatment first, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Undertaking surgery on a throwing athlete's shoulder is not a light consideration. Unless there is a clear-cut need for surgery, rehabilitation is often chosen as a first step. There's really no downside here. Any gains in range of motion and strength that Stafford makes will help him on the other side of surgery, if that becomes the plan. While it's not likely we will see him again this season, the Lions are not moving him to injured reserve, either.

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews injured his right ankle in Week 2 and, despite his efforts to return, has struggled. After he aggravated the ankle injury in Week 10, there appears to be greater doubt about his availability for Week 11. At this point, it seems he would benefit from additional downtime to really allow his ankle to heal and avoid risking further problems. Mike Tolbert was back at Monday's practice and could be starting in Week 11. On the receiver front, Malcom Floyd returned to practice also and was running well. The Chargers expect to have him this Sunday. Not as encouraging news for Legedu Naanee, who did not practice Monday and remains limited by his hamstring. Tight end Antonio Gates did not practice Monday, either, not unexpected given the seriousness of his injury (torn plantar fascia). While Gates has indicated that he will do all he can to return for the Chargers' big Monday night contest, it bears repeating that this injury was exceptionally painful. Even Gates, who has played through significant pain in the past, told us this was unlike anything he'd ever experienced, to the point where he just couldn't function. It's too soon to count him out, but it's not too soon to seek insurance if he's on your team.

Ryan Torain
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireRyan Torain was on the active roster Monday night, but hamstring injuries kept him from playing.
• Running back Ryan Torain of the Washington Redskins was expected to start Monday but didn't. Tightness in his ailing hamstring during pregame warm-ups kept him off the field Monday night. Clearly the injury is not altogether behind him, and fantasy owners should consider that Keiland Williams might get the next Redskins start. Clinton Portis was never really under serious consideration for Monday night after midweek swelling in his injured groin, and he might not be ready for Week 11, either. He will need to get through a week of practice without setbacks and show he is at full speed before being eligible to return.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck came back from a concussion only to sustain a crack in a bone in his left wrist. The Seahawks have expressed optimism that Hasselbeck will be able to play through the injury to his non-throwing wrist, no doubt with some sort of protective wrap. It appears he will avoid missing more time.

• The Indianapolis Colts continue to deal with multiple injuries, many of which are to fantasy stars. Tight end Jacob Tamme had a back injury in Week 10 that caused him to miss Wednesday's practice. After full late-week practices, he was able to start. Despite a solid performance, Tamme struggled at times and, according to the Indianapolis Star, was having trouble walking after the game. Expect him to be limited in practice this week. Running back Joseph Addai sat out again in Week 10 but reportedly is making improvements. It is too early to know much about the status of Addai or teammate Mike Hart, who also missed Week 10 with an ankle injury.



Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was determined to have a concussion after Sunday night's game. Ward appears to be doing well and has indicated that he expects to play this week. He still needs to be fully cleared to return, but this is encouraging news.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen also suffered a concussion on a hit late in the game. As the week unfolds, we'll find out whether Clausen is able to go Sunday. We also should learn more about the running back situation. Both DeAngelo Williams (foot sprain) and Jonathan Stewart (concussion) were out in Week 10.

New York Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery pulled a groin muscle Sunday yet still made an amazing catch while hobbling on one leg. He limped off the field just afterward and underwent an MRI on Monday, revealing a slight tear. This will be a tough injury to recover from in a week.

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs dislocated four toes Sunday. How does that happen? There are some thing I just can't answer, but I do know this: It could not have felt good. Amazingly, the Browns do hope he will play in Week 11.

• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that wide receiver Donald Driver missed Monday practice for personal reasons. Coach Mike McCarthy will update Driver's status Wednesday. Tight end Andrew Quarless, meanwhile, says his shoulder feels better after the bye week. He could return this week if all continues well.

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



Since most of Tuesday's blog was dedicated to two star players with significant injuries, quarterbacks Brett Favre and Tony Romo, today's blog will be a series of quick hits to get you caught up on your other fantasy players from around the league. Six teams are on bye this week -- Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants -- so get those replacements early as the pickings may be slim by the weekend.

Brett Favre
AP Photo/Andy KingBrett Favre was wearing a walking boot on Wednesday but it was gone by Thursday.
Before jumping into the variety of injuries across the league, here's the latest on Favre: He did not practice Wednesday and may not practice the rest of the week. Favre is resting his ankle and getting regular treatment in the hope that he will play Sunday against the New England Patriots. Head coach Brad Childress told reporters that Favre would not have to practice but would have to prove that he is mobile enough to play effectively. In the meantime, Favre has now been spotted without a walking boot, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Star-Tribune reports that Favre, who may wear a shoe larger than his usual size to play, was not expected to practice Thursday but his Sunday status has yet to be determined. Favre, who certainly has not ruled himself out because of the injury, perhaps summed it up best saying, "I wouldn't put anything past me to be honest with you." Nor would his offensive coordinator apparently. Darrell Bevell, who was with Favre in Green Bay when he played through a broken thumb, told the Star-Tribune, "It would surprise me if he wasn't able to be out there." Friday should yield more clues but it's looking more and more like Favre will attempt to play.

Favre isn't the only injured quarterback in the spotlight this week. Many teams have seen rotations under center this season, more often as a result of injury than performance.

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will rejoin his team on the field after missing six weeks with a separated throwing shoulder. Stafford has been working his way back gradually and the entire team is coming off a bye. While Stafford's shoulder has been rehabilitating, the rest of his body has enjoyed over a month free from contact, so he should be particularly fresh.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is expected to return this week after sitting out Week 7 with a concussion. The Dallas Morning News reports that Garrard passed post-concussion tests Tuesday, then worked out at the team facility. The Dallas Cowboys will be hosting the Jaguars this week.

• The Tennessee Titans' Vince Young, who sprained his left knee and ankle in the Week 6 Monday night game, was back in full practice Wednesday and Thursday. According to the Tennessean, Young says he is getting better each day. Coach Jeff Fisher says, "If he is able to move around in the pocket and be effective under center, then he'll have a chance to play." Backup Kerry Collins, who started in Week 7 despite a torn flexor tendon in his right (throwing) middle finger, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He should be available this week, but it appears that Young is indeed on track to face the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable continues to state that Bruce Gradkowski will resume the starting role as his team's quarterback once he's healthy. It's not looking as though that will happen this week, however. Gradkowski, who suffered a right shoulder injury that caused him to miss the past two games, was still not in practice Wednesday. Jason Campbell, who took all the first-team reps in his absence, appears in line for another start.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Max Hall says he's feeling better after taking a blow to the head in Week 7 that forced him to exit the game. Hall passed his concussion tests Tuesday and was a full participant in Wednesday practice. He has been named the starter for this week's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.



• And across the pond, where the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos have traveled for their Week 8 contest at London's Wembley Stadium, it will be a different Smith taking the snaps for the 49ers. Troy Smith, who came to San Francisco from the Baltimore Ravens, has been chosen to start this week. Alex Smith suffered an AC (acromioclavicular) sprain to his left (nonthrowing) shoulder in Week 7 and is expected to miss two to three weeks. Backup quarterback David Carr, who stepped in to finish the game after Smith was hurt last Sunday, wasn't injured. He just wasn't good. The 49ers are hoping for some kind of spark from Troy Smith, who, incidentally, had never taken a snap with the first team until this week.

Beyond the injuries to those who throw the ball in the NFL, there are numerous ailments among those who run and catch the ball as well. Midseason is that difficult time of year when no one is expected to be fully healthy, simply by virtue of playing the sport of football, but the question is who is healthy enough. Just what is healthy enough? Fantasy owners have seen players who are healthy enough to take the field but have little impact (Antonio Gates in Week 7) and those not fully healthy yet but amazingly productive (Steven Jackson in Week 4). Here are the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends we're talking about this week:

• The San Diego Chargers continue to nurse a multitude of players back from injury. Wide receiver Malcom Floyd is expected out in Week 8 and is not an automatic for Week 9, either. Teammate Legedu Naanee appears to be improving from his hamstring injury and did take part in some practice Wednesday. His late-week activity will be telling.



New Orleans Saints running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are not likely to be available for your fantasy rosters this week. Bush, who indicated earlier this week that he was medically cleared to return to practice, has not done so. While he has increased his activity to include outdoor running, he is not yet doing the activities that would suggest he is ready to resume his role. Bush needs to clear some more hurdles before he is thrown to the wolves, also known as the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Meanwhile it's no secret that Thomas has been somewhat "stuck" in his progression and reports Thursday are not especially encouraging. Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported via Twitter that coach Sean Payton announced that Thomas consulted with a foot and ankle specialist, who advised reducing his workload. That's enough for fantasy owners to know not to expect Thomas to return this week. It does raise more concern going forward. We will be following this closely to see if more details emerge.

• On Tuesday, we noted that St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson underwent surgery on his finger. Jackson did not practice Wednesday, which is not surprising given his surgery was just two days prior. So far there is no indication that he will be limited for this Sunday's contest against the Carolina Panthers.



• That might not be the case for his counterpart on the opposing team, however. DeAngelo Williams left Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers with a foot injury that was not considered serious. He sure looked uncomfortable when he left the field and he was not in practice Wednesday or Thursday. Williams owners need to be prepared with a replacement if Williams does not show he can run on that foot by Friday.

Knowshon Moreno
Brian Spurlock/US PresswireFormer Bulldog Knowshon Moreno would have to be considered the best running back of the Mark Richt era.
• Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno gave folks a scare when he grabbed his right hamstring near the end of practice Wednesday and was then seen talking it over with the medical staff, according to the Denver Post. On Thursday, coach Josh McDaniels told the Post he believes that Moreno will be ready to go "for at least some duty in Sunday's game." Not exactly completely reassuring. This is the same hamstring that Moreno injured this season, causing him to miss three games. Moreno appeared strong in his performance the past two games, but there's always concern for reinjury with the hamstring. Let's see what Moreno does Friday. Teammate Eddie Royal seems to be in worse shape with his groin injury, although the Broncos have him on the trip to London. According to the Post, they want to see his progress before Sunday. Given his limitations last week, it's hard to imagine Royal being in top form by game time.

• Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy looked to be in great pain after a big collision in Sunday's game and the immediate thought was that he aggravated a previously bruised collarbone. Murphy apparently has a chest contusion and according to the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Tom Cable says the deep bruise is "in the lung area," and Murphy is doubtful for Sunday. Depending on the severity of Murphy's injury, he could miss extended time. That means more targets for Zach Miller.

• Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston was kept out of last week's game partly due to wet field conditions, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt. Breaston was involved on a limited basis in Wednesday practice and appears to have a good shot at playing this week.

• San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has not practiced for two days over in London because of an ankle injury. Although details about the injury itself have been limited, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that Davis is not limping and his status should be apparent by the end of Friday's practice.



• And then there's the banged-up Indianapolis Colts. First off, wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez insisted earlier this week that his ankle was fine and that he expected to play Monday night. It's a good thing, too, since fantasy rock star Austin Collie is expected to be sidelined for several weeks following thumb surgery. Blair White is in the receiver mix as well. Gonzalez missed the majority of last season and most of this season with injury, so fantasy owners have little confidence. But the Colts, while fairly secretive when it comes to injury information, seem skilled at decision-making when it comes to returning players to activity. Their solid depth helps, but typically when their players return, they return strong. Pierre Garcon is proof of that already this season. And Gonzalez has been a full participant in practice both days this week.

Joseph Addai
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesJoseph Addai's shoulder could keep him out this week, and with the Monday night game, fantasy owners may need to look elsewhere.
• Meanwhile, in the running game things appear even less certain for the Colts. Joseph Addai, who injured his left shoulder in Week 6 and described his arm as "dead," has been slow to recover. Since the Colts play Monday night, they did not issue a Wednesday injury report, but Addai did not practice Thursday. Coach Jim Caldwell told reporters that Addai's status is day-to-day and that he has an "unusual" pain tolerance. Meanwhile, Donald Brown has been nursing a hamstring injury for weeks and it's unclear whether he'll be ready to take the field by Monday night. In fact, according to Tom James of the Terre Haute Star-Tribune, Brown did not practice Thursday, raising questions as to how healthy he truly is. According to the Indianapolis Star, Caldwell showered praise recently on Mike Hart (who had a hip issue of his own a couple of weeks ago), suggesting he would have to "be the guy to step it up a little bit" if Addai is unable to go. Friday's practice is even more important for the Colts this week with the game coming on Monday night.

See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 8 in the Saturday morning blog!



It is at this midweek point that we fantasy owners typically agonize over whether the injured players on our rosters will be available this week. With only one day of formal injury reports under our belt (at least that's the case for most teams at the time this blog is written), there is a big question as to whether many of the players appearing on these reports will be well enough to play in their games. Occasionally we find out early in the week that a player's injury is significant enough to sideline him. Disappointing as that news is, at least we can start searching for ways to make roster adjustments. Unfortunately, that early news is rare. However, this week, for better or for worse, we already know of several players who are projected to be out Sunday so we might as well get to those names straight away.



Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is still dealing with the effects of the concussion he sustained Sunday following a collision with Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson. Jackson did not practice Wednesday and head coach Andy Reid has already indicated that he does not expect the wide receiver to play this week. It also appears quarterback Michael Vick will be out another week, despite putting in limited practice Wednesday. Vick, still healing from his rib cartilage injury, has already spoken about targeting Week 9 (the Eagles have a bye in Week 8), so expect Kevin Kolb to get another start.



The San Diego Chargers have already indicated that two of their players will be out this weekend. According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, kicker Nate Kaeding will be out for Week 7 because of a groin injury. Meanwhile, wide receiver Malcom Floyd injured his hamstring in the Week 6 contest, which was severe enough that the Chargers are already preparing for his absence. The question will be whether he can return in time for the following week and whether Legedu Naanee can step back into the lineup this week. Naanee missed last week with a hamstring strain of his own and didn't practice Wednesday, but did do some side running and hopes to return to practice Thursday.

This is an off week for the Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, so that extra time off is most welcome. However, even with the bye week, there's already a lot of bad news with the Colts.

Dallas Clark
AP Photo/John RaouxFantasy owners were already going to have to do without Dallas Clark this week, but the absence may be much longer.
First off, there's tight end Dallas Clark, as he's facing an "indefinite" absence as a result of a wrist/hand injury. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that in the wake of the injury, Clark would be seeking multiple opinions as to the optimum course of treatment. On Thursday, Colts general manager Bill Polian confirmed Clark's indefinite absence. According to the Indianapolis Star, Clark is seeing a specialist in Cleveland on Thursday for what is a "relatively rare" injury and the team is awaiting word on the course of treatment before providing any more details, including a timetable. Said Polian, "This is not the kind of injury that is very common where our doctors can say, 'Hey, look, this is a four-week injury or this is a six-week injury.' So we'll know more later tonight."

Clark was apparently injured late in Sunday night's game when he put his left hand down to break his fall. He was then seen sporting a cast on his forearm and hand while at a fundraiser earlier in the week, hinting at the seriousness of the injury. Fantasy owners obviously need to make lineup adjustments in preparation for the possibility that Clark's absence is extensive.



And if you thought it couldn't get any worse for the Colts, Polian also revealed Thursday that wide receiver Austin Collie has an undisclosed injury that is being further evaluated. Adam Schefter reports that Collie has already undergone hand surgery and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks. No word as to the specifics of the injury and subsequent surgery, but suffice it to say fantasy owners will need a fill-in if he is out a few weeks.

Fantasy owners who own both Clark and Collie in their leagues (including this writer) may need to be restrained from acting out in frustration, but fortunately they were already going to be out this week anyway. More details as they emerge.



Meanwhile, there are also questions at the running back position. Joseph Addai, who suffered an injury to his neck and shoulder area in Week 5 but played in Week 6, was forced out of last Sunday's game after injuring his left shoulder. The Indianapolis Star reports that Addai says he is dealing with a "nerve" injury that could take up to five weeks to heal. Without knowing more about his diagnosis, it's hard to tell how accurate Addai's own prognosis about his condition is. NFL.com reports he is currently seeking a second opinion. The good news is that the Colts are on a bye this week and Donald Brown is getting healthier. Fantasy owners will want to be sure they target Brown in the event Addai misses some extended time.

As for the rest of the Week 7 injury concerns, read on ...

Quarterbacks

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Favre's elbow is reportedly feeling better than it did a week ago and he should be fine to take the reins for Sunday. Although he was listed as a limited participant in practice, he did do some throwing Wednesday. This is likely to be a condition that will have its ups and downs as the season continues, but with careful management, Favre could manage to play through it.

David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars: Garrard rested at home Wednesday and Thursday rather than participate in activity at the team's facility as he recovers from a concussion sustained Monday night. As is often the case with these injuries, Garrard is resting from cognitively demanding activities, such as meetings and film review, while also laying off physical activity. The evidence would suggest that Garrard will not be ready to play in Week 7.



The question then becomes who will be under center for the Jaguars? Trent Edwards injured his thumb Monday night and was not at Wednesday practice either. At issue will be how much pain and swelling interfere with Edwards' ability to grip and control the ball. The Jaguars may rely on Todd Bouman to face the Kansas City Chiefs.

Vince Young, Tennessee Titans: Young, who sprained his left knee and ankle Monday night, did not practice Wednesday and was seen "limping on the sideline," according to the Tennessean. Backup Kerry Collins did not practice Wednesday either as he rested a sore right middle finger, but it appears he was set to return to practice Thursday. Young relies on his mobility so if he cannot maneuver well by Friday, expect Collins to get the start.

Running Backs

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: He split reps Wednesday with Michael Bush. The Oakland Tribune specifically noted that the plays did not seem to be testing the "burst" of McFadden, something he suggested he would do earlier in the week to evaluate the progress of his injured hamstring. Whether McFadden can practice on successive days and work up to full speed by the end of the week will give a better clue as to his status for Sunday. There's a possibility that the team could head into the game against the Denver Broncos with a load-share situation.

Wide Receivers

Steve Smith
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireThe return of Steve Smith would be most welcome for his fantasy owners and the Panthers' struggling offense.
Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers: When possible, we like to bring good news to fantasy owners in this column and the sight of Smith putting in back-to-back full practices this week is indeed good news. Last week at this time, it seemed as though Smith might be headed for a more prolonged absence, but the prognosis has since improved.

The Gaston Gazette reported Wednesday that Smith said he felt "healthy," adding "I'm out of the boot and I don't have much pain so I'm able to move around. So I feel good." Smith reportedly has been recovering from a high-ankle sprain and it has only been three weeks since the injury. While his practice activity is certainly encouraging and indicates his likely availability against the San Francisco 49ers, it will be more encouraging long-term if he gets through that game without a setback.

Quick Hits


• Chargers tight end Antonio Gates did not practice Wednesday, as expected, to rest his sore toe. Coach Norv Turner has indicated that this injury does not appear serious and the team hopes to have him back in practice Thursday. At this point, it does not appear that his Sunday status is in doubt, although fantasy owners will want to see what Gates is able to do as the week progresses.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver strained his quadriceps late last week but still managed to play in Sunday's game. Nonetheless, the quad did seem to hamper him and he was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. Friday's practice should give a better clue as to his availability but it is possible, even if he plays, that he will not be at full health.

• Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects both Steve Breaston (knee surgery) and Early Doucet (sports hernia surgery) to be back in the mix this week for the Arizona Cardinals. Both players participated in limited practice Wednesday.

• Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Mike Sims-Walker was limited in Wednesday's practice because of a shoulder ailment. There is no word of a major injury, but it is worth keeping an eye on his activity the remainder of the week.

• Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday, but expect him to be in the action again this week. Every week that goes by is another week of the rib fracture healing itself, so there appears to be no cause for concern here.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis continues to slog it out through his thigh injury. He was kept to a limited practice Wednesday but based on his prior performance, expect him to suit up this week.

New Orleans Saints running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were not in practice Wednesday. According to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Bush is targeting next week for a return to practice, hoping to return to play in Week 8 or 9. Thomas was hoping to resume running this week, suggesting that he is more than a few days away from returning. As of Thursday, expect Chris Ivory and Ladell Betts to be in at running back.



Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap did not practice Wednesday because of a sore neck. Heap, who was on the receiving end of a big -- and much discussed -- hit from the New England Patriots' Brandon Merriweather, remained in Sunday's game after the hit but apparently the soreness lingered. The good news is that Heap returned to practice Thursday and appears to be on track to play in Week 7.

• At this point, Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini is suggesting that Colt McCoy could get his second start of the season, barring dramatic improvement in the ankle health of Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace. Given their injuries, McCoy is likely to be running the offense this week.

• Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski only watched practice while Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller split reps, according to the Oakland Tribune. When asked by Denver reporters during a conference call who would start for the Raiders this weekend coach Tom Cable responded, "We have no idea at this point."

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, Friday 3-4 p.m.), when we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 7 in the Saturday morning blog!

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