Stephania Bell: Matthew Stafford

Week 4 Thursday injury update

September, 27, 2012

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

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


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

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

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

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

Running Backs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tight Ends

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

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

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

Other notes

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

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

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


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

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

Running Backs

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

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

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

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

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

Tight Ends

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

We're keeping an eye on

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

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

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

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

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

This week's fantasy hand-wringing game-time decision on Thursday night involves Eagles' running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy is listed as questionable because of a sprained toe. [Editor's Note: McCoy is active for Thursday's game.] A few positive signs for McCoy: He finished the game in Week 12. He practiced daily this week. Granted, it was on a limited basis but he was out there on back-to-back days, and most importantly on Tuesday, which is considered the primary prep day for Thursday night games. Both McCoy and head coach Andy Reid expressed optimism early in the week about McCoy's availability. One of the benefits of a player testing the toe in practice is that the medical staff also gets a chance to evaluate how the athlete's toe is responding to any supportive taping or shoe inserts, and adjustments can be made. The plan is for McCoy to test the toe in pregame warmups but the expectation is largely that he will play, barring a surprise. The unpredictable element then becomes whether the toe will limit him, particularly as the game progresses. McCoy has performed well in the presence of other ailments in the past and if he is deemed well enough to start, then the team is expecting a similar result.

The Eagles have already announced they will be without quarterback Michael Vick (ribs) and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (shoulder, hamstring). Vince Young and Riley Cooper start in their respective places. The Seahawks will be without wide receiver Sidney Rice, who has been placed on injured reserve after suffering another concussion, his second this season.

Quick Hits

Not Practicing Thursday: Here is a list of players whose status is in serious question based on the fact that they are not practicing as of Thursday afternoon.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings: Peterson missed Week 12 because of a high left ankle sprain and has not yet practiced this week. Nonetheless, he claims he is progressing and hopes to test his ankle more Friday in the hopes he can play Sunday. According to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Peterson did some jogging Wednesday and said, "I can sit here and say I am improving ... I'm getting more movement." Peterson says it may come down to a game-time decision but thinks he'll have a better idea after Friday as to what he can realistically expect. The question for the Vikings then becomes whether it's worth having Peterson attempt to play if he is less than fully healthy, despite his determination. Don't be surprised if there is another week of rest before he returns.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants: Bradshaw has not returned to practice as he continues to recover from a stress fracture in his foot. Despite his declarations that he would play even if he did not practice, coach Tom Coughlin seems to be of another mindset. Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger reported via Twitter that Coughlin says Bradshaw must return to practice first. Part of that may be to prove that he can indeed run on the foot without a setback before testing it in a game situation. So far Bradshaw has not resumed running, so the likelihood of an appearance this Sunday appears to be fading. Week 14 is looking like the soonest option.

Mario Manningham, WR, New York Giants: Recurrent knee swelling kept Manningham out of Monday night's game and he has not practiced since. More discouraging were his comments Thursday, when he hinted at the situation possibly being season-ending, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. Chronic swelling is reflective of irritation within the joint which can range from tiny floating bits of cartilage or "debris" to minor tears or fraying of a meniscus. While rest, compression and cold therapy can reduce swelling temporarily, if the source persists, the swelling (and associated pain and limitation) will recur. The decision often comes down to whether the condition can be managed effectively or whether surgery is required. Right now his status for this week appears in doubt.

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: Despite a McFadden sighting in Oakland, he does not look as if he will be ready for Sunday. McFadden has been out of his boot and walking around but he is not yet working with the team. We heard over a week ago from coach Hue Jackson that the Raiders would not return him before he was 100 percent healthy (the luxury of having Michael Bush on your roster) and they clearly are not rushing McFadden back. While frustrating for fantasy owners now, this will be of benefit to McFadden's foot and ankle health in the longer term. Week 14 could be a possibility, but even then, expect McFadden to be eased back into play.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders: Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times reported earlier this week that Ford hoped to be back in practice Thursday but was not optimistic about his chances for playing in Week 13. He must be even less so now since he was not practicing Thursday after all. Ford continues to recover from a foot injury and will likely be sidelined Sunday.

Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Earlier this week, Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones expressed optimism that Austin would play Sunday. By Thursday he had changed his tune. According to Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas, Jones said Thursday he does not expect Austin to play Sunday against the Cardinals. Like the Raiders having the luxury of Bush filling in for an injured McFadden, the Cowboys have enjoyed the surprise performance of Laurent Robinson. With Austin on his second hamstring injury of the season, there is no desire to press him into action only to lose him for good at the most important time of the year. Austin has not practiced and now probably won't until next week. More Robinson this Sunday.

Julio Jones, WR and Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Jones played in Week 12, coming off his second hamstring injury of the season, but was limited in that effort and had no catches. The team is giving him some rest again this week but the hope remains that he can be available Sunday. More surprising was the appearance of Turner on the injury report Wednesday because of a groin issue. Turner's absence again Thursday is causing a bit more concern, especially considering he underwent groin surgery in the offseason. There has been no word as to the severity of this incident or whether it is precisely the same area that is injured, but for a running back known for his power, any groin ailment can be problematic. Friday's practice status should be telling for both of these players.

Practicing Thursday: Here is a list of some key fantasy players who were back in the mix Thursday.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Stafford was participating last week too, but this week he is throwing without gloves or a protective splint on his index finger. According to the Detroit Free Press, Stafford believes his finger is improving, although he doesn't blame his recent struggles on the finger alone. Still, the closer to normal the throwing conditions for a quarterback, the more he is likely to succeed. Fantasy owners are hopeful.

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions: After spraining his ankle on Thanksgiving and not practicing Wednesday, there was concern about whether Smith could return in Week 13. Thursday, however, was another story as Smith returned to the practice field. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Smith appeared to be cutting well doing cone drills and was working first in the running back rotation. While he may not be at full strength, if Smith does not have a setback following Thursday's workout he could be in line to start again Sunday.

See you in the injury chat, Friday at 11 a.m., and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 13 in the Saturday morning blog!

Schaub, Cassel likely done for season

November, 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Hits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the injury world turns: In today's episode, a running back (Peyton Hillis) who showed promise early in the week for playing in Week 8 has a more discouraging outlook Thursday, a receiver (Andre Johnson) who in two days went from "definitely a possibility" to play Sunday to a maybe then back to a definite possibility, and a running back (Beanie Wells) who declared himself fully healthy just two weeks ago is not practicing at all now. These stories and more as the injury world turns.


Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Stafford (ankle) did light stretching and exercise Wednesday in what constituted a limited practice effort. On Thursday, he took it up a notch by working with the first-team offense. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported via Twitter that coach Jim Schwartz acknowledged that Stafford had increased his activity. "He is improved today over yesterday, and I think that he's on a pretty good track right now," Schwartz said. Signs are certainly pointing in the direction that Stafford could play Sunday.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: Last week, we outlined the concern for Bradford's mobility to protect himself as a factor in whether he could play. That concern remains as Bradford, who was still in a walking boot early this week, has yet to practice. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the Rams are not even certain that Bradford will try to test the injured leg in practice. The left high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 6 is looking likelier to cause Bradford to miss another game.

[+] EnlargePeyton Hillis
Kyle Terada/US PresswireIt seems pretty tough to trust Peyton Hillis on your fantasy team this week.

Running Backs

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: Hillis returned to a limited practice Wednesday because of his injured left hamstring. Browns head coach Pat Shurmur gave a vote of confidence, saying Hillis would return as the feature back when ready (and sounded hopeful for Sunday). As is often the case when a player is recovering from injury, the day after can be very telling in terms of how far along the healing truly is. Lingering soreness suggests the muscle may have been overworked, and in the interest of avoiding a more serious setback, the response to that soreness is typically rest. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported via Twitter on Thursday that Hillis would not practice Thursday because of soreness in the hamstring after Wednesday's workout. Even if Hillis returns to limited work Friday, his status for Sunday is iffy at best because the team will want to see how he responds the following day. And if Hillis is deemed ready to play, the leg will undergo a more strenuous test during the game. Any sign of strain would temper his workload, and given this latest development, the Browns might proactively alter his workload, should he play. It's a very cloudy picture right now for fantasy owners. The best bet is to have insurance for Hillis, which may come in handy, even if he suits up.

Wide Receivers

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Johnson returned to limited practice Wednesday, an expected step in his recovery from a procedure on his torn hamstring tendon and an encouraging sign he would return in Week 8. Coach Gary Kubiak seemed pleased with what he saw from Johnson, telling the Houston Chronicle, "He looked good running to me." Then there was Johnson's take. Johnson told the Chronicle he still feels "tugging and stuff" on his leg when he runs. Johnson added that if he feels Sunday the way he did Wednesday, he probably won't play. Kubiak supported that notion,.understanding that ultimately how Johnson feels will drive the decision as to his status.

The Texans already have experience with one of their star players, running back Arian Foster, suffering a setback with a hamstring injury this season and they don't want to see it happen again. The worry in Johnson's case is not so much with the precise location of the procedure (near the tendon attachment at the knee) but in the muscle itself, which could suffer injury if he has not returned it to full strength before resuming play. As Kubiak pointed out, it's a long season and "we need to make sure we do the right thing here." On Thursday, the Texans showed renewed optimism, however, after Johnson was again able to practice. According to the Houston Texans' Twitter page, Kubiak said of Johnson, "He was better today. He told us that he felt better ... He had his normal day of practice ... We took another step forward." So fantasy owners, it appears Johnson will be a game-time decision Sunday. The progress is encouraging, but Johnson could sit one more week if he has any doubts.

Quick Hits

[+] EnlargeJahvid Best
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiJahvid Best does have a history of concussions in his playing career going back to college.
• Lions running back Jahvid Best is still not practicing after the concussion he sustained in Week 6. The Detroit Free Press cites a source close to Best as saying he is not expected to play in Week 8. The Lions have a bye in Week 9, so it's possible that Best has two more weeks away from football.

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had a normal practice Wednesday, the first time he has done so since the week following the season opener. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson (hamstring) was also a participant Wednesday, as was running back Ryan Mathews. Running back Mike Tolbert rested his sore hamstring Wednesday, and Malcom Floyd sat out because of his hip. The Chargers have a Monday night game this week, so there will be no official report until after Thursday's practice.

Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells did not practice Wednesday, not a huge surprise considering he's dealing with significant swelling in his knee. Despite Wells' routine projections of optimism that he will play (and think of how many times he hasn't), the bottom line is that an athlete can't run (which presumably is what running backs are charged with doing) when there is swelling present. Beyond the direct impact to the joint, swelling in the area will inhibit muscle performance, making a player even more susceptible to injury. At this point, there is little reason to expect Wells to dress for Sunday.

• The Minnesota Vikings need Adrian Peterson. The fantasy world needs Adrian Peterson. Everyone can now breathe a little easier because Peterson returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. Peterson limped off the field late in Sunday's game after suffering what appeared to be an ankle injury. He downplayed the injury after the game, and the day of rest could only help. It looks as if he'll be available as usual Sunday. Teammate Percy Harvin also returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday to rest his sore ribs, an injury he aggravated last week despite wearing protective gear. That serves as a reminder of how hard it is to minimize the pain of a rib injury, and Harvin's recent struggles underscore the point. Even an active Harvin has to be considered questionable to produce.

[+] EnlargeMark Ingram
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireIf Mark Ingram does sit out this week with a heel injury, the Saints are still more than covered at running back.
New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has not practiced this week after suffering a bruised heel Sunday. Bruising on the bottom of the heel seems like an obvious limitation to running, and heel bruises can be slow to wane. The New Orleans Times-Picayune hints at Ingram's missing Week 8, although the Saints have yet to rule him out. The Saints did activate Chris Ivory from the physically unable to perform list, giving themselves another option in the event of Ingram's absence. With Ivory just returning to football, it's expected the Saints will ease him back into game situations, meaning Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles would handle the bulk of the workload Sunday.

• The New York Giants hope to have running back Brandon Jacobs back in the lineup Sunday. Jacobs missed two games with an MCL sprain, and persistent knee swelling has kept him off the practice field. He put in some work Monday and official limited practices Wednesday and Thursday. Barring a sudden recurrence of swelling, expect Jacobs to play Sunday.

• When Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai exited Sunday night's game early with a hamstring injury, it was reasonable to believe he had aggravated the injury that caused him to miss the previous week. Not so, says coach Jim Caldwell. According to the Indianapolis Star, Caldwell says this is not the same injury that caused Addai to be questionable heading into Sunday night's game, but the new injury may leave him with the same designation for this week. Addai did not practice Wednesday, and Caldwell says he is awaiting word from the medical staff as to whether Addai will be able to return. Still seems to be a risky fantasy situation.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m., and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 8 in the Saturday morning blog.

The injury aftermath from Week 7

October, 25, 2011

Anyone who plays fantasy football knows the trauma inflicted across rosters in the mess that was Week 7. There are, oh, a gazillion injury situations in play, so without further ado:

[+] EnlargeTim Hightower
James Lang/US PresswireTim Hightower had seemingly retaken the Redskins' top running back slot last Sunday before suffering his season-ending knee injury.
Two more fantasy running backs were lost for the season Sunday. Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower was just getting past his shoulder injury, but it was his leg that failed him this time. Hightower suffered a torn ACL in a classic non-contact, deceleration manner, so we won't see him until next season.

It's hard to know whether we'll see Earnest Graham again after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' veteran back, filling in for the injured LeGarrette Blount, suffered a torn Achilles tendon. With surgery and a lengthy recovery ahead of him, Graham may be challenged to return. In the meantime the Bucs, who have said nothing about Blount's specific injury or his progress (other than terming it a sprained knee), may be turning to some outside help to shore up their backfield. However, the Bucs do have a bye this week, but it is too soon to know whether Blount, who has yet to practice, will be ready by Week 9.

Tight end Chris Cooley never really got it going this season as a result of his ongoing knee ailment. He then fractured his index finger, requiring surgery and a lengthy recovery. He will now have plenty of time to recover from both as the Redskins have placed him on injured reserve. Fred Davis has proven to be quite capable in his place so far this year.

Quick Hits

They're all going to be quick hits this week gang given the number of injury items. As details emerge throughout the week, we will expound on them.

[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesOnce again, Matthew Stafford is dealing with an injury.
• For all those who took the under at Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford staying healthy through the first half of the season (officially through this Sunday; the Lions then have a bye in Week 9), don't rush to cash in just yet. Although Stafford was seen limping off the field late in Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons game after a defender fell on his right ankle, head coach Jim Schwartz is simply calling him "day-to-day," leaving open the possibility he is available this week. Schwartz did not go into details regarding the results of Stafford's imaging tests. My interpretation: nothing catastrophic, but some variant of a soft tissue injury. The key, as always, will be whether he can effectively plant and throw and move to protect himself.

• There were a pair of hand injuries suffered Sunday that require surgery. Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss underwent surgery Monday to insert pins in his broken left hand. He is projected to miss five to seven weeks. That timetable could be updated in about a month as the bone healing is evaluated. Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee fractured his fourth metacarpal (the long bone in the hand that runs from the base of the fourth finger to the wrist) and is scheduled for surgery to repair it on Tuesday. While McGahee acknowledged he would miss Week 8, he expressed confidence he could return by Week 9. That sounds optimistic. Consider Redskins running back Ryan Torain, who underwent surgery for his metacarpal fracture in August but took three and a half weeks to return to practice, and four weeks before he played in a game. While all injuries are unique, it would not be surprising if McGahee's absence extends beyond the two weeks he projects. Even when he returns, he may require protective wear on the hand. OK, Knowshon Moreno, it's time to step up.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings also suffered a hand injury Sunday, but the results were not so dire. Jennings suffered a bruised right hand, one that caused him to temporarily experience numbness, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He had enough function in the hand to return to the game and later X-rays revealed no fracture. The Packers have a bye in Week 8, and it sounds like they expect Jennings for their Week 9 matchup with the San Diego Chargers.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden had only two carries Sunday before exiting with what coach Hue Jackson told reporters Monday is a midfoot sprain. McFadden was on crutches Monday to offload the foot, but the team seems to not be overly concerned. They have the luxury of a bye week to allow McFadden to rest the foot and plan to re-evaluate him Monday. The midfoot is key for transferring load from the back of the foot to the front during weightbearing and any injury there makes it difficult to walk, much less run, normally. A minor sprain can respond well to unloading (this is where the crutches come into play) along with therapeutic modalities to help ease any pain and inflammation. Keep in mind that McFadden did return to the sidelines, but given his history of toe and ankle injuries, the Raiders were more conservative in guarding him against further injury. Wise move. Hopefully he is able to return in Week 9.

[+] EnlargeBeanie Wells
AP Photo/Paul ConnorsBeanie Wells rushed for 42 yards before leaving with another injury.
Arizona Cardinals oft-injured running back Beanie Wells suffered a knee injury in Sunday's game that has left him with significant swelling but no particular diagnosis, at least not one the team is revealing. According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Wells denied a bone bruise and head coach Ken Whisenhunt did not elaborate on the nature of the injury, only saying there was no major structural damage. There are plenty of means by which a joint can become irritated and the response to that irritation is swelling. This is the same knee Wells had surgery on last year for a torn meniscus. The bottom line is that there is no plan for surgery (since there is no "structure" to address) at this time but there is also no running on a swollen knee. The goal is to address the swelling first, then try to bring the athlete back toward full activity and hope the swelling does not return. How long will it take? No one knows for sure. So stay tuned and keep an eye on when Wells is able to return to practice. Start by preparing for a backup in Week 8.

• New Orleans had all their running backs healthy when they came into Week 7 (not counting Chris Ivory, on the Physically Unable to Perform list since the start of the season). But Mark Ingram left Sunday's game with a limp, suffering what the team has called a bruised heel. No further word from the Saints on what they expect, and there is no indication as to whether the bruise is on the back of his heel, near the Achilles attachment, or on the undersurface of the heel, making it hard to prognosticate. If Ingram is limited, Pierre Thomas could be setting up for a nice matchup against the St. Louis Rams. Meanwhile, Ivory could be nearing a return to practice but that has not yet been made official.

• Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a nasty looking ankle roll in Sunday's game. The awkward spill appeared to stress both his ankle and his knee, but after exiting for a brief period, Ryan was able to return and finish out the game. Ryan is no doubt pleased to have a bye week to allow the soreness to subside but is expected to start in Week 9. Teammate Julio Jones has missed two games with a strained hamstring, but if all goes well he could be back in Week 9.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin has been battling sore ribs since the preseason. Again he had issues with the ribs, which forced him to exit the game in the third quarter. Harvin is going to be further evaluated, but consider the Vikings had already agreed to scale back his playing time when his condition worsened. It's entirely possible he misses some time.

• Even the durable Hines Ward of the Pittsburgh Steelers is on the injury report this week after sustaining an ankle sprain Sunday. Ward often gets a day off from practice during the week (veteran, history of knee issues in the past) so it may be difficult to get a feel for his playing status until Friday.

• The San Diego running backs have to be thankful for one extra day before returning to competition. Ryan Mathews injured his thumb during the game against the New York Jets but was able to return to play. Mike Tolbert was seen grabbing his hamstring late in the game and was indeed listed on the postgame injury report, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, but neither player's injuries seemed to be a major cause for concern.

Raise your hand if you were one of the fantasy owners whose Sunday was ruined when Marshawn Lynch, declared active, was suddenly not playing because of back spasms that flared up during his pregame warmup. To make matters worse, it appears Lynch has been dealing with the issue for a while. According to the Seattle Seahawks' official website, coach Pete Carroll said Lynch's back is "not a new issue" but has been managed effectively to this point. As for Lynch's status this week Carroll said, "We'll have to be careful with him through the week and make sure that we do the right things. He is determined to play for sure in his mind, but we're really not going to know until we get to the end of the week." Or maybe not until Sunday after your rosters lock. Have a backup at the ready so you can pull the trigger if there's any shadow of a doubt heading into gametime.

And then there were a number of players who never took the field in Week 7 but whose status is of interest for Week 8:

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Ray Carlin/Icon SMISam Bradford sat out Sunday's game against the Cowboys and may be back on the bench this week.
• St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is still in a walking boot and is no lock to play in Week 8. The team plans to reassess his status Wednesday.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis was not able to play Sunday because of his strained hamstring, but he did get some running in Monday, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. There have been enough hamstring injuries around the league that everyone should know this is only one of many steps before returning to play. If Hillis is able to get back to full practice this week, then he should play Sunday.

• The Houston Texans could have wide receiver Andre Johnson back in the lineup Sunday if all goes well. Coach Gary Kubiak added clarity to the situation calling the return of Johnson "definitely a possibility" when speaking to reporters Monday. Johnson, who underwent a procedure on his torn hamstring tendon in early October, has been running but has not yet returned to practice. If he is able to do so early this week, it would bode well for his chances.

• The San Francisco 49ers could have wide receiver Braylon Edwards in the mix this Sunday. Edwards has been out recovering from meniscus surgery on his right knee. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said he expected Edwards to return to practice Tuesday.

• The New York Giants could get running back Brandon Jacobs alongside Ahmad Bradshaw this week. Jacobs, sporting a brace for protection, was able to practice Monday, indicating the swelling in his knee had subsided to the point he could participate. Now the challenge will be to see if the swelling remains down before he can be cleared to play.

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

Dolphins QBs among Week 10 injuries

November, 16, 2010

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.

Not getting enough football? Of course you aren't! To help remedy that situation, you get another night of NFL competition starting ... now. Tonight marks this season's first night of Thursday night football, as the Baltimore Ravens face the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

Naturally, there is a fantasy football injury concern heading into the game. Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is listed as questionable coming off a knee bruise from Sunday's contest. It's worth noting that White ultimately finished the game Sunday, and his status for Thursday night never really appeared to be in doubt, even as he was held out of practice early in the week. White returned to a light limited practice Wednesday, and all indications are that he will play against the Ravens. Whether the knee will affect his performance at all is hard to gauge, given that he has not truly tested it since Sunday. Still, there's not enough evidence to suggest White will be significantly impaired unless he suffers an in-game setback. It's pretty hard to bench Matt Ryan's top target on the basis of a what-if scenario. Fantasy owners should check pregame inactives, but it would be very surprising if White did not take the field.

In the rest of the NFL world, four teams are enjoying a respite from competition in Week 10. The San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers get a week off during this final bye week of the NFL season.

With so many teams dealing with multiple player injuries, it made sense to lump the biggest collections of injuries together as team units in this blog entry. With that said, here's who else we're talking about in the world of injuries heading into Week 10:

Andre Johnson
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesAt this point, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Andre Johnson misses a midweek practice to nurse his ankle.
Houston Texans (Andre Johnson, WR; Owen Daniels, TE; Matt Schaub, QB): Neither Johnson nor Daniels practiced with the team Wednesday or Thursday. Nick Scurfield of reported that Johnson underwent another MRI on Monday as a follow-up measure for his right ankle. Johnson's high ankle sprain has continued to nag at him intermittently, and his explanation for that was perfectly reasonable. "I still have a little swelling in my joint, so that's what's causing the little pain I have at times," Johnson said. "The biggest thing now is just trying to just get that swelling out of there." This explains why the team is limiting his activity during the week. Less running and less pounding means a better chance of getting the swelling down. Less swelling translates to better joint mobility and less pain. Johnson said his ankle was "feeling pretty good" Wednesday. This cycle is likely to continue throughout the remainder of the season.

Although Johnson's nonpractice routine to protect his ankle is somewhat expected by now, Daniels has yet to get past a recent aggravation of a hamstring injury. Head coach Gary Kubiak says that Daniels is improving but will be a game-time decision, according to the Texans' official Twitter page. Daniels has had only one solid performance this season.

Schaub was limited Wednesday because of a rib injury but will play Sunday when the Texans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Minnesota Vikings (Brett Favre, QB; Percy Harvin, WR; Sidney Rice, WR): Favre did not practice Wednesday, and in what has become an ever-changing injury report for him, the notes following his name Wednesday said, "ankle, foot, calf." For those keeping score at home, "chin," which appeared last week after Favre's laceration requiring stitches in the Week 8 game, and "elbow," which made the list weeks ago, are now both absent. Which led me to wonder: What are the most body parts to appear for a player on a single injury report? Will Favre hold that record along with the consecutive-starts streak? But I digress ...

Favre was back in practice Thursday, and we all know he will start this week. Harvin might be a different story. Harvin, who limped into Week 9 with a left ankle sprain, has not practiced Wednesday or Thursday because of a migraine flare. He has developed a pattern where he typically shows up and plays well on Sunday even if he is unable to do much during the week. Although migraines are clearly far less predictable than a typical musculoskeletal injury, one has to believe that if he is functional Sunday, he will play. Still, fantasy owners should prepare for another possible game-time decision.

And everyone is wondering when we will see the return of Rice, who is back doing some work with the team following August hip surgery. Coach Brad Childress has not yet committed to a return date, stressing that he wants to be sure that Rice can handle the rigors of competition, both in terms of endurance and being able to absorb physical contact, before he participates in games. Rice has not yet been moved to the active roster, which has to happen for him to play. Although that is a possibility for Week 10, there has not been any definitive indication that it will take place. Even if it does, Childress already has indicated that Rice is likely to return to limited action initially.

Indianapolis Colts (Joseph Addai, RB; Mike Hart, RB; Jacob Tamme, TE; Austin Collie, WR): Addai is still not practicing with the team and is not expected to play in Week 10. Hart has shown no signs of returning yet, either. Expect Donald Brown to get the start at running back again for the Colts this week.

And what's this we're hearing about Tamme? The Colts already lost their starting tight end, Dallas Clark, for the season to a wrist injury. Tamme, who has been outstanding filling in, was not in practice Wednesday because of a back injury. Even more ominous was coach Jim Caldwell's acknowledgment of a "level of concern" about Tamme's status, as reported by Phillip Wilson of The Indianapolis Star. It appears that fantasy owners can breathe a little easier, as Tamme was back in practice Thursday. Friday will be telling to see whether Tamme can go on two consecutive days. Fantasy owners need to keep an eye on this one.

Collie already has been ruled out as he recovers from a concussion.

New England Patriots (Tom Brady, QB; Fred Taylor, RB): Could the face of the Patriots franchise be sidelined this week with an injury (and not the one to his throwing shoulder that appears on practice reports week in and week out)? No is the simple answer. Brady missed Wednesday's practice, an occurrence that raised eyebrows frankly because it is such a rare event. He is reportedly dealing with a foot sprain, but he was back in practice Thursday and by all accounts will be under center Sunday night.

Meanwhile, welcome back to practice (albeit limited), Fred Taylor! He has been hampered by toe injuries, but the Patriots had to believe he could contribute eventually, as they kept him on the active roster. Maybe that time is nearing. This will no doubt progress slowly and depend on how Taylor responds to any increased activity. But it's something fantasy players in very deep leagues should at least monitor.

And elsewhere ...

Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young did not practice Wednesday because of his ankle, a bit of a concern coming out of a bye week. He returned to limited practice Thursday and is expected to play this weekend. Nonetheless, if Young's mobility is at issue, it certainly impacts his style of play.

Carson Palmer
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesCarson Palmer got an extra day to rest his shoulder, and it looks as though he'll be fine for Sunday's game.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has not practiced this week because of soreness in his throwing shoulder. However, Palmer said he plans to return to throwing Friday and, more importantly, plans to play Sunday. According to the Bengals' official website, Palmer says he's "not worried at all," indicating that the short week warranted an extra day of rest. Meanwhile, teammate Chad Ochocinco was back in Thursday's practice after sitting out Wednesday to rest his ankle. He got his leg rolled Monday night and looked uncomfortable afterward, but apparently the injury was not serious. His relative lack of targets may be the more serious issue both for him and his fantasy owners.

• The Detroit Lions expect to have Shaun Hill at quarterback this week as long as there are no setbacks. Hill is recovering from a fracture in his nonthrowing forearm, and the main concern will be protecting that forearm from reinjury. Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith had a custom-designed shell created to protect his forearm; perhaps Hill will wear something similar. In the meantime, there is no official word as to the long-term plan for Matthew Stafford. But clearly no one expects him back any time soon. Running back Jahvid Best continues to be listed on the injury report because of his toe but is expected to play.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been back in practice this week after sitting Week 9 out with a concussion. ESPN's NFC West blogger Mike Sando reports that Hasselbeck is expected to play against the Arizona Cardinals this week. As is the case following all concussions, there must be no recurrence of symptoms between now and Sunday, but given Hasselbeck's strong early week, fantasy owners can feel positive.

• As for the Carolina Panthers, Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald reported Wednesday that Mike Goodson will start at running back this week. So much for DeAngelo Williams aiming for a Week 10 return. He has not yet returned to practice, and neither has teammate Jonathan Stewart, who suffered a concussion in Week 9. It's worth noting that offensive tackle Jeff Otah, who had not played this season following August knee surgery (his absence is certainly believed to be a contributing factor to the struggles of Carolina's running game) has now been placed on injured reserve. Translation: No help on that front anytime soon. Quarterback Matt Moore joins Otah on the injured reserve list, and Jimmy Clausen will start in his place for the Panthers.

• Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, again because of swelling in his surgically repaired knee, according to Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic. According to Somers, Wells will try to practice Friday. Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence. Wells has been a question mark most weeks and has been limited even when he has played, primarily because of issues with his knee. It's not looking much more promising for him in Week 10.

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a pectoral (chest) strain in practice Thursday and, according to the New York Daily News, could miss this week's game. Apparently Smith was injured when extending his arm to reach for a ball and was not able to complete practice as a result.

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis is back in practice this week following the bye. Davis was forced to leave the game early in Week 8 after aggravating an ankle injury, but it doesn't appear to be an issue at the moment.

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

There's never a dull moment in the world of football injuries and Week 9 proved to be no exception. Several key players were forced out of games early, including a couple of kickers. Their replacements could not have been more different. Detroit Lions rookie defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh filled in on an extra point attempt for the injured Jason Hanson, while the New England Patriots used wide receiver Wes Welker after Stephen Gostkowski got hurt. Welker fared a little better than Suh, but fortunately, neither will be assigned kicking duties this week.

The Patriots have signed kicker Shayne Graham while Gostkowski recovers from a quadriceps strain. Meanwhile, the Lions signed Dave Rayner to fill in for Hanson, who reportedly has an MCL sprain that could force him out for two to three weeks, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

Who else are we talking about as we look ahead to Week 10? Keep reading to find out.

Roddy White
AP Photo/David GoldmanRoddy White was held to a season-low four catches and 49 yards last week against the Bucs.
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons: White injured his right knee in the first quarter of Sunday's game and while it did not appear serious, it gave him enough trouble to limit his productivity. According to ESPN NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas, White left the game twice but ultimately returned to play in the second half after having the knee taped.

Naturally, the big concern for fantasy owners is whether White will be available in Week 10, given that the Falcons play Thursday night. According to Yasinskas, that question was answered when White said simply, "I'm going to be playing Thursday." Head coach Mike Smith has echoed that sentiment, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Regarding White, Smith said, "[He] will be ready to go." White may not practice much given the short week, but the positive news this early is encouraging.

Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts: In perhaps the scariest moment of Week 9, Collie lay still on the field for several minutes in the second quarter following a hit across the middle while trying to catch a pass. The medical staff tended to Collie for some time, ultimately placing him on a spine board and stretcher and wheeling him off the field. As is the standard in situations in which there is concern about a potential spine injury, all precautions were taken to ensure Collie's safe transport from the field.

We later learned that Collie was alert and sitting up in the locker room. Good news indeed considering the last sight of him was motionless, other than his eyes blinking, on a stretcher. That said, it is important to remember that Collie still suffered a concussion, the seriousness of which should not be overlooked. There have been some positive signs since Sunday night. As Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star reports, Collie was able to travel home with the team and was improving on Monday. James says Collie is not expected to play this weekend against Cincinnati. Coach Jim Caldwell perhaps summed it up best saying, "He'll be released to play whenever he is cleared." Collie had just made a return from thumb surgery to repair a torn ligament when he suffered the concussion.

James also notes that there were no Monday updates on running backs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart, both of whom sat out Week 9 nursing injuries. Caldwell indicates that both players remain day-to-day.

Matthew Stafford
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesMatthew Stafford had thrown for a season-high 240 yards against the Jets before leaving with another shoulder injury.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Not good. Stafford injured his throwing shoulder again. While the Lions have not confirmed the details regarding the nature of his injury, reports that Stafford has suffered a Grade III shoulder separation (he had previously suffered a Grade II separation, causing him to miss five games). While coach Jim Schwartz had said Monday that the team "was not talking surgical options" in regard to Stafford, Stafford himself indicated that he did not expect to play this week in his appearance on Mitch Albom's radio show.

It's a good bet Stafford may consult with Dr. James Andrews (who repaired Sam Bradford's Grade III separated shoulder) regarding this latest injury, as he has consulted with him in the past. Without confirmation as to the specifics of the injury, there can be nothing but speculation as to what sort of time Stafford could miss and what treatment he might undergo.

In the absence of anything definitive, fantasy owners at least know to prepare for an absence of Stafford of unknown duration. Shaun Hill has been recovering from a left forearm fracture and it is not known whether he could be available this week. As of now, Drew Stanton is preparing to be the starter, according to Birkett. The Lions and fantasy owners are no doubt hopeful that Hill will be cleared soon to return to play. Stay tuned for more updates in Detroit.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers: Stewart was the running back set to carry the load in Week 9 with teammate DeAngelo Williams out for a second straight week with a foot sprain. That was not to be, however, as Stewart made an early exit with a concussion. Although Stewart was able to walk off the field with assistance, he was carted to the locker room. Backup Tyrell Sutton was also forced out of the game with an ankle injury.

There is no way to predict whether Stewart will miss time, but the Panthers are no doubt hoping that Williams' recovery is imminent. Williams, who has not practiced since suffering the injury, indicated early last week that he was targeting a Week 10 return, but we need to see him run before feeling too confident. To compound the injury issues facing the Panthers, quarterback Matt Moore suffered a season-ending torn labrum in his right shoulder and has been placed on injured reserve.

Other injury notes heading into Week 9

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews has struggled with his return to full health following the right ankle injury he suffered in Week 2. Any progress he had made took a step in the wrong direction Sunday, when Mathews aggravated the ankle. The Chargers are fortunate to have a bye this week, giving Mathews and their many other injured players who missed Week 9 (most notably tight end Antonio Gates and wide receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee) extra recuperative time.

Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain left his last game with a hamstring strain and it was unclear just how serious the injury was. The good news for Torain fantasy owners is that he was running full speed Monday, according to the Washington Post, an encouraging sign early in the week. The Redskins play Monday night, which is both good news and bad news; the good news is that Torain gets an extra day, the bad news is fantasy owners don't like to have Monday night question marks. His activity the rest of the week should give more clues. And while teammate Clinton Portis is reportedly back in some form of practice, he is still having soreness and may not yet be ready to return to competition.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin managed to deliver quite a performance considering he was limping right up until kickoff. At various points throughout the game, Harvin looked uncomfortable, even limping off the field for a rest at one point, but when it was time to turn it on, he did. Given what he was able to do this week, it would seem that his status for next week should not be of major concern.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck returned to practice Monday after sitting out Sunday's game with a concussion. He will still need to pass all tests to be able to return to play and that may not happen until later in the week. But so far, he's on track.

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

Welcome to Week 4, also known as the first bye week of the season. Traditionally teams have not favored early bye weeks as the rest seems to be more welcome deeper into the season. But as it happens, some teams are truly benefiting from the timing of their byes.

The Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys are all off this week.

For the Vikings, it means tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and the hamstring he injured in Week 3 get some extra rest. Wide receiver Percy Harvin and quarterback Brett Favre, both of whom have been dealing with various ailments, should also appreciate a less physical week.

In Dallas, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten suffered a concussion in Week 2 but played in Week 3, only to add a sprained MCL to his list of injuries. Witten's sprain was reportedly mild and he likely would have pressed to play this week if necessary, but that decision won't have to be made now. Witten can rest his knee and wide receiver Dez Bryant can rest his fractured rib.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was in the hospital Monday undergoing gall bladder surgery and will have an easier recovery week given the bye. Not that it sounds like he would have missed any time. After all, Weis put up with the intense pain from the infection in his gall bladder through last weekend so that he could help orchestrate the Chiefs' demolition of the San Francisco 49ers in Arrowhead Stadium. It will be tough for any of the Chiefs' players to complain about their own aches and pains during the off week.

Down in Tampa, Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow has been playing despite experiencing pain in his surgically repaired knee. While Winslow has been able to play through the pain, the well-timed rest could help boost his productivity going forward.

Teams do not have to provide the same injury reports during their bye weeks, so fantasy owners will have to wait until next week for updates on any of their players who are taking a week off. In the meantime, here are some updates on other players of interest which may affect bye-week pickups:


Drew Brees
Chuck Cook /US PresswireDrew Brees isn't on the injury report, but the fact that he was wearing a knee brace in practice was a cause for concern.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints: Reports of Brees in a knee brace perhaps has fantasy owners worried, but it sounds like this is not something that will keep him off the field. Brees took a shot to his knee late in Sunday's game and was limping afterward. An MRI came back negative, much to the relief of Saints fans and Brees fantasy owners everywhere. He told reporters his knee was sore but added, "It's gotten a lot better since Monday." Whew.

Brees has been wearing a brace, however, which provides some compression and support and makes it easier for him to move around. Apparently, he was moving well enough for the Saints since he was not on the injury report Wednesday. Brees should be expected to start as usual this weekend.

Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Browns: Delhomme was out of practice again Wednesday because of his injured ankle but put in some limited work Thursday. Coach Eric Mangini has maintained all along that even if Delhomme were limited in practice, it would not prevent him from starting Sunday. If Delhomme is able to get back into the mix enough this week, it's quite possible he could take the reins this weekend.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Despite the pronouncement that Stafford would begin throwing this week, he did not throw in the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday and was listed on the injury report as not participating in practice. He will have to move through a throwing progression before he can even return to practice. Do not expect him back this week.

Running Backs

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens: Rice did not practice Wednesday, which comes as no surprise. Diagnosed with a knee contusion after Sunday's game, Rice's activity will be limited at best early on. The Baltimore Sun quoted a source close to Rice as saying the injury "is not that bad." Sure, it's not a ligament sprain or a fracture, but one shouldn't underestimate how limiting swelling around the knee can be for a running back. The big unknown is how much time it will take for the swelling to subside so that Rice has complete, easy motion of the knee and the ability to perform at full strength. Rice is eager to play; it's just a question of how the knee and the clock cooperate. Fantasy owners should prepare a backup plan but keep an eye on Rice's activity for the next two days.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams:
On Tuesday, we described how Jackson strained his groin in a rather atypical fashion. It's no shock then that he did not participate in practice Wednesday. Jackson continues to undergo rehabilitation for the injury but may not actually do much throughout the week. This is looking like it will be headed for a game-time decision, but savvy Jackson fantasy owners know to have a backup plan. He will want to go, he will try his best to get there, but the team may decide it's too risky to play him if he is anything at less than full speed.

Ryan Mathews
Jody Gomez/US PresswireRyan Mathews missed last week's game with an ankle injury but he looks ready to go this week.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: Good news for Mathews' fantasy owners: He appears on track to return Sunday. Mathews, who showed signs of improvement in the ankle late last week when he did some treadmill work, returned to practice Wednesday. In response to an inquiry Wednesday regarding Mathews' chances of playing this week, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweeted "very good." Very good news indeed.

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals: Wells was impressive in his return to the field Sunday after missing time for what we now know was an arthroscopic surgical procedure. The fact that he performed well on the field, along with no reports of unusual postgame swelling or soreness, suggests that his workload will only go up. Tim Hightower is expected to continue to start, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable that Wells will see significant action.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: Thomas got his ankle twisted Sunday and the sight of it made it look like he might not return. But he did return and finished the game. Apparently his ankle didn't forget how it felt, though, as Thomas was out of Wednesday's practice. It's too soon to speculate as to his Sunday availability, but it is worth noting that rookie teammate Chris Ivory made his season debut last week. Ivory, who missed the first two games of the season with an MCL sprain, did not appear on Wednesday's injury report.

Jerome Harrison, Cleveland Browns: Harrison sat out last Sunday's game after missing practice all week with a thigh injury. He returned to limited work Wednesday but how he feels as the week goes on will ultimately determine his availability. If you happen to be one of those Peyton Hillis fantasy owners who celebrated last week, there's a chance you might do the same thing this Sunday. Stay tuned.

Wide Receivers

Andre Johnson
AP Photo/Bill BaptistAndre Johnson has dealt with ankle injuries the past two games, and this week he likely draws Nnamdi Asomugha as he faces the Raiders.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans: Johnson's ankle, aggravated during Sunday's game, kept him out of practice Wednesday, just like last week. Johnson reminded people that it was Thursday of last week when he tested the ankle with some running and he plans to do so again this week. While Johnson remains upbeat about his chances for Sunday, coach Gary Kubiak continues to take the more conservative approach. The matchup at the Oakland Raiders is less than favorable for Johnson and would be less so if he is not firing on all cylinders. Kubiak has already expressed that the team would be cautious with Johnson, keeping the bigger picture of the season in mind. This may come down to a game-time decision but fantasy owners may want to have insurance at the ready.

Mario Manningham, New York Giants: Manningham was out of practice Wednesday with a concussion, initially casting doubt as to whether he will be available for this week's contest. It's no secret that managing players who suffer concussions is being taken seriously in the NFL, but Manningham was apparently well enough to return to some form of practice Thursday. Let's see how he responds as the week progresses.

Quick Hits

• Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, which does not exactly support the notion of his return Sunday. Tuesday we outlined the problems with this type of injury and the difficulty it presents for a running back in particular. Fantasy owners need to make alternate plans.

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno was a late scratch last week after injuring his hamstring in practice. He was projected to miss more than one week initially, so it comes as no surprise that he was not practicing Wednesday. While he has not yet officially been ruled out, Moreno's fantasy owners should plan as if that's going to be the case.

Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai remains on the injury report because of his knee but was able to play last week and should again Sunday. Teammate Pierre Garcon remained out of practice because of his injured hamstring. It looks as if Austin Collie might be reprising his role this weekend.

New England Patriots running back Fred Taylor has not practiced this week. It certainly looks as if his availability for Week 4 is in doubt.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson showed up on Wednesday's injury report as a non-participant because of his knee. There is not much in the way of detail but unless Benson ends up out of practice for an extended period, this could just be a means of giving him additional rest.

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis appears on the injury report again this week because of his wrist. Portis has played the last two weeks despite the wrist ailment. He fully participated in practice Wednesday so he appears to be in line to play again.

• Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller did not practice Wednesday because of an undisclosed injury.

I won't have an injury chat Friday but I will have the latest injury updates affecting Week 4 in the Saturday morning blog!

Ray Rice, Jahvid Best among hurt RBs

September, 28, 2010

Welcome to Tuesday following the third week of NFL football.

Running backs took a beating this week, with many ending up on the injury report. This is the time of year when teams start to get banged up and players attempt to fight through injuries. The majority of injuries to key fantasy players this past weekend were not necessarily season-threatening, but these injuries might become productivity-threatening if they linger. The question for fantasy owners becomes not only whether a player will be active or not, but also how effective will he be if he is on the field? Isn't it better for a player to rest and recover (presuming the team gives everyone enough notice to seek a substitute) rather than rush to return and flounder? It seems that NFL teams are asking this same question.

Recently, it appears that teams have taken a more conservative approach in managing injuries, particularly early in the season. While I have no specific evidence of this, it seems that teams are resting players during the week following an injury in the hope that it allows them a better chance to play (and play well) on Sunday. The old adage -- "If you don't practice, you don't play" -- doesn't seem to be a hard-and-fast line anymore, particularly when it comes to star players. Just look at Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin, who missed the bulk of the preseason as well as in-season practice time because of illness (migraines) and injury (hip). He continues to play a featured role in the Vikings' offense and they have already shown they will work around his ailments.

In some cases, teams appear to be holding players out from a week (or more) of competition if there is concern that the injury could worsen. In other words, the big picture of the overall season is taking precedent over any given week. San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews perhaps could have gutted it out this past week, but there was clearly concern about his injury worsening, so the team rested him Sunday. That rest appears to have paid off. As of Monday, Mathews was already reporting positive news following a workout. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Mathews, who had already begun treadmill work last week, did his most significant workout since the injury and stated, "I felt like my normal self." That's a good omen for fantasy owners for this weekend.

Here's the early injury watch list coming off Week 3.

Ray Rice
AP Photo/Rob CarrRay Rice has yet to score a touchdown this season, and a bruised knee puts his Week 4 in doubt.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Rice took a hard fall to the ground square on the front of his right knee in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, and the ground left its mark. That mark came in the form of a big bruise, called a "significant contusion" by coach John Harbaugh. According to the Baltimore Sun, Rice has not been definitively ruled out for Sunday's contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the team will assess his progress throughout the week. The most positive aspect of Rice's injury news is that an MRI showed no ligament or cartilage damage.

For those who might be wondering why a bruise would be enough to keep a player sidelined for a week, it's important to remember that a bruise is the result of bleeding. A "significant" contusion, as Rice's injury was described by his coach, suggests there was significant bleeding and swelling around the front of his knee. Not only does the swelling have to decrease in order for the muscles around the knee to fire properly, but activity too soon after bleeding can lead to other, more serious complications. Week 4 is certainly in question at this point and fantasy owners should prepare accordingly.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams: After having his legs stretched apart like a wishbone Sunday, Jackson is fortunate that his groin strain appears to be relatively mild. In the offseason, during his recovery from back surgery, Johnson worked diligently on his strength in an effort to ensure that he would stay healthy. It's pretty tough to train for the scenario he encountered Sunday, though, when defenders forced him into an awkward split-like position.

While Jackson has been tweeting that he's moving around fine and while the Rams are breathing a sigh of relief because the injury does not appear serious, the team is still likely to be cautious, especially during practice. According to the Rams' website, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "What you don't want to do is get him out there too soon and set him back, because the whole goal will be to get him to the game on Sunday." Fantasy owners should bear in mind that Jackson has endured a groin injury before, so he will know to be cautious.

Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions: Best suffered a Grade II turf toe injury in his right big toe Sunday according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, an injury that could turn into a chronic issue if not managed properly. Turf toe involves spraining the ligaments that support the base of the big toe where it attaches to the foot. The critical demand placed on this joint during push-off cannot be underestimated. Not only does the joint demand mobility, it must be simultaneously stable enough to support the full body weight at that final moment of pushing forward off the foot. Severe turf toe injuries can be career-threatening and minor turf toe injuries can become major ones if not attended to properly.

Javid Best
Mike DiNovoJahvid Best entered the NFL with the injury-prone label, and now he's a question mark to play in Week 4 with a toe injury.
Given that Best could not put pressure on his toe after Sunday's game, according to the Detroit Free Press, it seems like a stretch that he would be ready for Week 4. Despite reports that he is day-to-day, it would not be surprising if Best rests this week. After all, the Lions often refrain from offering up timetables on their injured players, referring to them as day-to-day or week-to-week (quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has been out since Week 1 with an AC sprain, has been described as week-to-week all along). Best, who also injured his left big toe in Week 1 (although that sounded minor in comparison to this latest injury) would be facing the Green Bay Packers. While a healthy Best would be desirable, an injured Best most certainly is not. Meanwhile, Kevin Smith, who has been recovering from ACL surgery, appears to be almost ready for prime time. Coach Jim Schwartz told the Detroit Free Press that Smith is "a lot closer now than he was in preseason." Fantasy owners should begin making insurance plans now.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Johnson was already on the list for his sprained right ankle but played Sunday, as expected, and then aggravated the injury. According to the Texans' website, Johnson told reporters after the game, "We're just going to take the same approach as we did last week as far as the treatment." Johnson noted that he felt great on the ankle until the moment when it was aggravated. His attitude would suggest that his goal is to be back in the lineup in Week 4.

While you love to see a player take that approach, fantasy owners should consider coach Gary Kubiak's assessment of the situation. Kubiak projected, "He will be day-to-day and we will be smart with Andre Johnson." In other words, the Texans face the Oakland Raiders this week in what could be a difficult matchup for Johnson. While Johnson is known to be a tough player who will do everything he can to be on the field, Kubiak reminded people that there is a long way to go, another reminder that the value for the season has to be measured against the value of any given week.

Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys: Last week, Witten made the Tuesday column because of a concussion he suffered during the Week 2 contest that forced him out early. This week, Witten sustained a different injury, a sprained MCL in his right knee.

According to, Witten says he's fine. Anyone who knows Witten knows his willingness to play through injury and pain, so his assessment of the situation is hardly surprising. The bye week comes at a perfect time, giving him some forced rest for the knee. At this point, there's no particular reason to think he will not be available in Week 5, but practice reports over the next two weeks should provide clues.

Other quick hits

• Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to resume light throwing this week, according to the Detroit Free Press. He would still be very unlikely to play in Week 4. Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson is hoping to return this week from his ankle injury, however.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas experienced some tingling after an awkward landing Sunday, according to the Denver Post, but it appears that he escaped serious injury. Whenever you hear "tingling," you think nerve, but the fact that the symptoms cleared quickly is a good sign.

• With the Minnesota Vikings on bye this week, they are not obligated to provide an injury report, so we won't be hearing about tight end Visanthe Shiancoe until next week. It appeared that Shiancoe was having his right hamstring attended to on the sidelines during Sunday's game. The hope naturally is that he'll be available when the Vikings return for a Monday night game against the New York Jets on Oct. 11.

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

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday and Friday 3-4 p.m.) and we'll have more injury reports in the Thursday and Saturday blogs.

Thursday's Week 2 injury update

September, 16, 2010


Kevin Kolb
Howard Smith/US PresswireThe Eagles will be very cautious with Kevin Kolb's concussion.
Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles: On Tuesday we outlined Kolb's injury and the steps that must occur before a player can return from a concussion.

Since then, his failure to make significant progress suggests he will be sidelined this week. Despite coach Andy Reid's declaration that Kolb would be the starter if healthy (which does not appear he will be by Sunday), Kolb has not undergone any mental preparations in advance of this week's matchup, never mind any physical work. Everyone knows that a quarterback's decision-making is equally important as his ability to get the ball down the field, making it that much less likely that he will play.

Michael Vick took all the reps with the first team Wednesday and is expected to do so again Thursday. Expect Vick to be leading the Eagles against the Detroit Lions this Sunday.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: Stafford is not expected to play this week. He is expected to get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews on his sprained right shoulder, although any discussion of surgery would be a surprise. On Tuesday, we outlined the nature of Stafford's injury and the range of time he could be out. Fantasy owners should prepare for an absence of at least a few weeks.

Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Browns: Delhomme injured his ankle during last Sunday's game and while he stayed in the entire four quarters, he has not seen any practice time yet this week. The Browns thought enough of Delhomme's injury to schedule an MRI, the results of which have not been made public. The fact that Seneca Wallace took all the first-team snaps in practice is no secret, however, and ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Delhomme will be a game-time decision. In the meantime, Delhomme wears his protective boot, continues to get treatment and hopes for the best.

Running Backs

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: What started out as no big deal Monday seemed a little more worrisome Wednesday when Jackson was held out of practice. Apparently the decision to rest him was a precautionary move according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as Jackson's knee MRI showed no significant injury. Jackson is expected to play this weekend against the Oakland Raiders, so fantasy owners can breathe a little easier.

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals: After sitting out Week 1, Wells is hopeful to return from a knee bruise in Week 2, but much will depend on how he tolerates practice Thursday. Wells did limited work Wednesday and the team is expected to challenge him with a full workout Thursday to see how his knee responds. Following a deep bruise, one of the concerns is the return of swelling to the joint. If Wells' knee can tolerate practice and there are no aftereffects, it would certainly be a good indicator that he is likely to play Sunday in Atlanta.

Fred Taylor, New England Patriots: Who says a thirty-something can't be the starting running back in a potent offense? Not Taylor, who had a nice showing Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately Taylor's efforts also resulted in him showing up on the Wednesday injury report with a toe injury. While toe injuries are nothing to sneeze at, the good news is that Taylor did participate on a limited basis, suggesting the injury is minor. With the Patriots trading away Laurence Maroney to the Denver Broncos, it appears that they were not overly concerned about Taylor's health, either. Naturally, practice reports throughout the week will provide more insight, but this does not appear to be a big concern for fantasy owners, at least not yet.

Wide Receivers

Larry Fitzgerald
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesLarry Fitzgerald was sidelined with a knee injury for much of the preseason and he's trying to get back into midseason form.
Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald owners who were worried about his status heading into the season had to be relieved to see him on the field Sunday. But even Fitzgerald acknowledged that he wasn't quite up to speed. Literally.

According to Associated Press reports, Fitzgerald related his injury and the time missed during the preseason to being out of sync with his quarterback. "We haven't worked extensively together and that's going to come with time," said Fitzgerald. "We're going to be better than we were last week." And as one has come to expect with Fitzgerald being the consummate professional, he took it upon himself to be better. "I need to get myself together so I can be the best player I can be for [QB Derek Anderson] and this ballclub," Fitzgerald said. To that end, he was a full participant in Wednesday's practice.

Doucet suffered what was called a groin injury in Week 1 and has already been declared out for Sunday's game, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Somers reports that Doucet is undergoing further tests to determine if he indeed has a sports hernia. Doucet had preseason issues with what the team called an abdominal strain. It is often the case if an athlete has abdominal and groin pain, a sports hernia is the culprit. If a sports hernia is the diagnosis, Doucet will undergo surgery and could be sidelined for a few weeks.

Quick Hits

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis appears on the injury report again this week but not because of his ankle. Portis has a wrist ailment, but it didn't limit him at all in practice Wednesday. Expect him to play Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver and all-around scoring threat Percy Harvin sat out Wednesday's practice with a hip ailment. There haven't been many specifics, but it is yet another practice session where Harvin is out. For what it's worth, quarterback Brett Favre was a full participant, although "back" has been added to his injury ailments, along with his ankle.

• After being named NFC Offensive Player of the Week, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte showed up on the injury report because of a knee ailment. The good news is that he did participate in some portions of Wednesday practice, but this is worth keeping an eye on.

• Last year Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez earned a spot in this column after Week 1 when he suffered a PCL sprain. Although initial projections had him missing about a month, he never did return during the 2009 season. Gonzalez is back in the column for all the wrong reasons. He suffered what is being called a high ankle sprain, and Schefter is reporting that he is already ruled out for this week. Savvy fantasy owners know that high ankle sprains are not typically a one-week injury.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday and Friday, 3 p.m ET) and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 2 in the Saturday morning blog!

Ryan Grant likely done for season

September, 14, 2010

Welcome to Tuesday following the first week of football. There already were some key injuries heading into Week 1, so you know there are more to add to the list.

The NFL has put a spotlight on concussion management with its new guidelines regarding return to play following these injuries. That spotlight became much brighter after several key players went down with concussion injuries in the first week of the football season. People are paying close attention to how these players are managed post-injury, and it will come as no surprise to see a more conservative approach adopted around the league. For fantasy owners, that means wasting no time in securing a replacement, just in case.

Beyond concussions, there were several other injuries in Week 1 that might warrant realigning your fantasy roster, namely a big one in Green Bay. Here's what we know as the preparations for Week 2 get under way.

Ryan Grant
Howard Smith/US PresswireRyan Grant had not missed a game due to injury in three seasons, and now he'll miss most of this year.
Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay Packers: The Packers starting running back has not missed a game due to injury in three seasons. Unfortunately, he will not extend that streak to four. Grant is expected to be placed on injured reserve after suffering a severe ankle injury that will require surgery and extended rehab time.

Grant suffered the injury in Week 1 when the outside of his leg got rolled on. His leg was forced inward while the sole of his right foot pointed outward, and he was clearly in pain after the injury. Reports relating to the surgery Grant will undergo hint at the extent of the damage.'s Steve Wyche reports that Grant will have a screw inserted, and ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Grant will be on crutches for 10 to 12 weeks. The emerging details suggest Grant suffered a Grade III syndesmosis injury, more commonly known as a high ankle sprain. Already more complicated than the common lateral ankle sprain, a Grade III high ankle sprain would represent the most severe form of this injury.

In the case of a Grade III sprain, the ligaments that connect the two leg bones (tibia and fibula) where they form the "roof" of the ankle (hence the term "high" ankle) are torn. The two bones can then spread apart, creating significant instability at the ankle. Surgery is the standard form of treatment in this case, with screws typically inserted to provide stability. The specifics of surgery and subsequent rehab depend on the full extent of damage in the ankle and, in some cases, higher up in the leg. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Grant has a small fracture higher up in the fibula (the outer of the two lower leg bones), which, while not as serious as the main injury, adds to the damage. The full extent of Grant's injury might not be known until after surgery.

Full healing is necessary to help prevent future complications at the ankle, so it would not be surprising for this to signal the end of Grant's season. That said, players have returned from this type of injury before, so it does not necessarily present a threat to his career.

Brandon Jackson, who replaced Grant in the second quarter of Sunday's game following the injury, is expected to be the starter this week.

Kevin Kolb
Howard Smith/US PresswireIt's hard to trust in Kevin Kolb this week.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: Kolb suffered a concussion in Sunday's loss to the Green Bay Packers and is not looking as if he'll be available this week. While Kolb's evaluation will occur on an ongoing basis throughout the week, it was clear Monday that he had not improved sufficiently to move forward with preparations for Week 2.

According to Comcast SportsNet, Kolb did not pass the testing administered by team doctors Monday and was sent home from the practice facility afterward. In addition to evaluating player symptoms following a concussion (for the presence of headache, nausea and dizziness, among other things), the medical staff conducts neurocognitive testing, which measures how the brain is processing information. Before a player returns, he must be free of all signs and symptoms of concussion at rest as well as during and after activity. Additionally, his neurocognitive test results must return to baseline (as determined by comparing post-concussion results to baseline testing performed prior to the start of the season). Each player who suffers a concussion also must be cleared to practice and play not only by the team physician but by an independent neurological consultant as per the NFL guidelines revised in January this year.

It's important to keep in mind that while a recovering player is resting his brain from the stresses of physical activity, he also must refrain from mental exertion that could equally tax the healing brain. Consequently, he cannot view film, study playbooks, attend meetings or participate in other forms of game-day preparation. His only task right now is to rest.

At this point, it appears unlikely Kolb will be ready to start in Week 2 (enter Michael Vick), but the situation is fluid. Coach Andy Reid has said Kolb is his unquestioned starter if healthy, so how he progresses daily will determine his status.

Matthew Stafford
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesMatthew Stafford has now suffered shoulder injuries in both of his NFL seasons.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: After getting both his knee and his nonthrowing shoulder healthy in the offseason, Stafford did not have much time to enjoy the Week 1 experience. Late in the first half, Stafford was forced out of the game following a sack on which his throwing shoulder absorbed the brunt of the contact with the turf. Since this is the primary mechanism by which quarterbacks suffer shoulder injuries (just ask Stafford to tell you how his left shoulder was injured last season), it was no surprise to learn that he indeed sustained a sprain of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, also known as a separated shoulder. The problem this time is it's his throwing arm. Last season, while the injury was uncomfortable, Stafford could gut it out through the bulk of the season because his throwing arm was unaffected. Not this time.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Stafford could barely lift his arm after the game, one of the hallmark signs of an AC sprain. Stafford was sporting a sling to support the injured joint and will spend the first few days primarily resting the shoulder. Over the next few weeks, the goal will be restoring range of motion and strength followed by a return to a throwing program.

Stafford reportedly has gone to Birmingham, Ala., to get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. This comes as no surprise since Stafford underwent a minor knee surgery there in December. The expectation is that he will not require surgery, as this is a Grade II or moderate sprain. Even in the case of a complete or Grade III AC sprain, a surgical solution is not automatic. St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a Grade III injury to his throwing shoulder last season while at Oklahoma. Originally, he was treated nonoperatively; it was a reinjury to the same shoulder several weeks later that led to him ultimately opting for surgery.

The key for Stafford will be allowing sufficient time for the damaged ligaments to heal. Since there can be quite a bit of variability within the category of Grade II sprains, it's hard to offer a definitive timetable. That said, the Lions probably are looking at a range of anywhere from three to eight weeks for Stafford to not only recover to the point of being able to throw effectively, but to be able to return to absorb contact with minimal fear of reinjury.

Other quick hits:

• St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson had some swelling in his right knee after Sunday's game, which led to an MRI on Monday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that coach Steve Spagnuolo expects Jackson to be fine, but it's important to keep an eye on what he does in practice this week. It's worth noting that Jackson saw limited action in the preseason, as he was coming off back surgery, so this might be a function of increased work.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Moore suffered a concussion Sunday, as did New York Giants tight end Kevin Boss. Moore reportedly already has improvement, but that doesn't mean the Panthers will take this any less seriously. His status will be day-to-day. In Boss' case, this represents his third reported concussion in three years. Caution is definitely warranted here. It would be surprising to see Boss in the lineup this week.

Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells was out Week 1 as expected with a knee bruise, but coach Ken Whisenhunt has nicely let fantasy owners know that his second-year back is planning to return to practice Wednesday. If Wells tolerates practice well, fantasy owners should also expect him to be back on the field Sunday.

Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels was in for more plays Sunday than originally projected. That said, he was rarely a target. Sunday was his first game action since undergoing ACL reconstruction, so fantasy owners should expect it to take a few weeks for him to get up to speed.

• In the disheartening news department, Philadelphia Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver suffered one of the more gruesome injuries of the weekend and is done for the year. Weaver's foot remained planted while his knee was visibly hyperextended and rotated. The Eagles have placed him on injured reserve with an ACL tear, but the full extent of the injury might not be appreciated until he undergoes surgery. Meanwhile, New York Jets nose tackle Kris Jenkins tore his left ACL on Monday night, the same ACL he just had reconstructed last year. For both of these players, there has to be some question as to whether they will return to football.

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

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday and Friday from 3 to 4 p.m. ET), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 2 in the Saturday morning blog.

How many of you started Jerome Harrison in Week 15? Come on now, tell the truth. I'll bet a whole lot more folks started Calvin Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Michael Turner or even newcomer Arian Foster, based on good, logical reasoning about past performance and future expectations. Sadly, Johnson and company combined for a whopping total of three points. That's right: an average of less than one point per player.

All four had injuries that affected their performance. Johnson has a balky knee; Garcon left his game early with a bruised hand; Turner reinjured his ailing ankle on his first carry; and Foster, well, he suffered from that virus circulating among Houston running backs known as fumble-itis. Meanwhile, Harrison -- all by his lonesome -- scored more than 15 times the number of points that group put together. I guess you could say Harrison is at least healthy.

If your fantasy playoff battle took place against a Harrison owner (who didn't happen to have him on the bench), then you are no doubt suffering from post-playoff depression. Fortunately, it's curable, but it tends to last about eight months, which is when the next fantasy football season begins. As for those of you who were able to make it into the next round of playoffs, you are left wondering who Week 16's Jerome Harrison will be. I can't tell you that, but I can tell you whom we're looking at in the world of injuries this holiday week ...

Michael Turner
Dale Zanine/US PresswireMichael Turner's ankle has derailed many a fantasy team during the playoffs.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Turner has been pressing to get back on the field since injuring his right ankle, not once, not twice, but three times. Turner exited the game after just one carry Sunday after a hit to that ankle, and his status for Week 16 is again in question. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, coach Mike Smith reiterates that Turner will not automatically be shut down. Said Smith: "[Turner] is a quick healer. ... We're hoping he'll respond and come back." There are certainly reasons to be concerned about repetitive injury to a joint as it is trying to heal, particularly when it comes to long-term health. In fantasy, if you've already been burned here, you know to stay away. Let Turner prove he can get through a full game while you get your fantasy points elsewhere.

Reggie Bush, RB, New Orleans Saints: Bush sustained a hamstring injury in the Saints' first loss of the season, but from the sound of things, this is a minor incident. Bush said he felt it grab right away, but he also characterized the injury as "very minor." In fact, despite a fairly significant injury history, Bush says he has never pulled a hamstring before, something that works in his favor toward progressing quickly. Fantasy owners can also feel good about coach Sean Payton's philosophy when it comes to resting players from the stretch run: He isn't planning on it. Payton told reporters Monday that the team is focused on each game, "right now," which means everyone needs to participate. Watch Bush in practice this week, but expect him to be available Sunday.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers: Williams suffered a left ankle sprain in the first quarter of Sunday's game but there has been little word out of Carolina as to the severity of the injury. Williams sat out Week 13 because of an ankle injury but returned in Week 14 and rushed for more than 80 yards. Williams practiced this past week without incident and seemed to be in good shape heading into the game against Minnesota. The Panthers have been able to lean on Jonathan Stewart when Williams has been hobbled. They may have to do so again if Williams struggles with the ankle this week.

Other quick hits:

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford may not return in Week 16. His left shoulder AC separation is still causing him some discomfort, and it sounds as if the Lions will not return him to the field until he has healed sufficiently. Coach Jim Schwartz told reporters Monday that Stafford's shoulder was "definitely still a concern." The question, then, is who will replace him. Schwartz has not decided whether it will be Daunte Culpepper or Drew Stanton.

• Staying in Detroit, wide receiver Calvin Johnson is clearly less effective when Matthew Stafford is not throwing to him and when his knees are giving him trouble. That combination was in effect Sunday, when Johnson failed to be a big fantasy factor. He is not likely to be 100 percent healthy this week, and we don't yet know who will be throwing to him. This will be a situation to watch.

Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook may be active in Week 16, but fantasy owners should not get too excited. Coach Andy Reid has indicated that Westbrook will have "limited reps," according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. This makes perfect sense, as he will need to ease back into game shape. If Westbrook does make an appearance, he likely won't have fantasy value in Week 16, but he might be worth grabbing for a possible Week 17 play.

Nate Burleson
Kirby Lee/US PresswireNate Burleson missed Week 15 with an ankle injury, and given the Seahawks' other woes, he might miss the rest of the season with not much time left.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Nate Burleson is already doubtful for Week 16, according to coach Jim Mora. Burleson sat out Week 15 with a high ankle sprain, and there was concern from the outset that he could be forced out for the rest of the season. While that has not happened yet, it certainly does not sound as though fantasy owners want to count on him for their playoffs. Best to look elsewhere.
Meanwhile, teammate Julius Jones suffered a rib injury Sunday (again), which could mean more carries for Justin Forsett in Week 16.

New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks strained a hamstring in Monday night's contest but was quick to downplay the injury. According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Nicks said the hamstring had been tight for two weeks, adding that this strain was nowhere near as serious as the injury he suffered during training camp. Nicks did not return after the injury Monday night, but the Giants were already dominating the game. Expect Nicks to be available in Week 16, barring a setback.

Indianapolis Colts receiver Pierre Garcon killed many a fantasy playoff dream when he left Thursday night's game early with a bruised hand. Although the injury did not appear serious, Garcon did not return for precautionary reasons, according to the Indianapolis Star. Coach Jim Caldwell hinted when he spoke to reporters Monday that starters might see limited playing time in Week 16, so fantasy owners will need to think twice about using Garcon this week.

• The Buffalo Bills lost not one but two quarterbacks this week to ankle injuries. Trent Edwards has been placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. Ryan Fitzpatrick is also expected out this week as a result of his right ankle injury. Fantasy owners should not put their hopes in the hands of Brian Brohm, who is expected to get the start in Week 16.

Oakland Raiders tight end Zach Miller missed Week 15 following his second concussion of the season. Miller hopes to play in Week 16.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10-10:30 a.m. this week), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 16 in the Saturday morning blog.