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Roethlisberger should play

9/13/2008

Here's a fun fact: The Miami Dolphins have a clean injury report. That's right. Nobody, no one, not a single player is on their injury report this week. I'm not sure I've ever seen this before, but how happy must a team be when they can submit their injury report to the league office Friday afternoon and it's a blank sheet? Is there anyone out there in fantasy league-land who has every player on their roster healthy? I didn't think so. That's why we bring you the injury updates heading into Week 2. Set your injury-adjusted lineups and hope for a healthy week.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: Although he didn't practice Wednesday due to the sore throwing shoulder, he did some work Thursday and managed a full practice Friday. Roethlisberger is listed as probable, meaning he is expected to play, but if the shoulder starts to give him trouble as the game goes on, or if he shows signs of fatigue in the arm, expect his playing time to be limited. Roethlisberger has a history of playing through various ailments, and this should be no different, but the team will make every effort to preserve him for the long haul.

Marion Barber, RB, Dallas Cowboys: Barber was already looking like someone who expected to play Monday night despite a rib injury in that he fully practiced Wednesday and Thursday. Friday did nothing to dispel that as he practiced fully yet again. He is officially listed as probable, and with the extra day of rest, it appears he will see a regular workload. Perhaps even more significant is the idea that he has been doing so well already, he may not need to wear the protective gear that could make ballhandling a little more challenging. For someone who relies on speed and ball control, carrying no extra weight and minimizing interference is a bonus. Barber looks to be in good shape for Monday night.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, and Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: Who knew that big-toe problems could be contagious? The Chargers have another star plagued by a big-toe injury, as Tomlinson jammed it in last week's contest. The good news is that X-rays were negative, but the toe was painful enough that Tomlinson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. Tomlinson was able to practice fully Friday, but he is only listed as questionable on the Chargers' injury report. According to ESPN reports, Tomlinson believes that based on what he was able to do in Friday's practice and how he felt afterward that he is closer to probable to play Sunday.

The role of the big toe in every aspect of running, pivoting, cutting and jumping cannot be overemphasized, as it has to bear the weight of the entire body with any pushing off. If the ligaments around the toe are injured, repeated stress not only causes pain but can make it difficult to heal. It appears that Tomlinson will play Sunday, but if the toe becomes a limiting factor, he may see decreased time on the field.

Meanwhile, teammate Antonio Gates put up a decent performance in Week 1 in his first outing since undergoing surgery on his big toe. He appeared to suffer no major setbacks, although he did come out of Week 1 with a sore hip to add to the toe discomfort, and as a result was limited in practice early in the week. Gates, however, was a full go in practice Friday and is listed as probable, which bodes well for his Sunday status. He acknowledges that his toe is not 100 percent, but told the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier in the week that the more he does, the better it becomes. Clearly his confidence in the foot is coming back.

Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis Colts: Clark is listed as questionable and, although he was able to do some practice activity Friday, is far from certain to be on the field Sunday. Clark injured his knee last Sunday, and despite the negative MRI had enough discomfort to keep him from doing anything in practice until Friday. It does not sound like we should expect much, if anything, from him this week.

There is good news elsewhere on the Colts' offensive front, however. Center Jeff Saturday, who just a couple of weeks ago was considering surgery on his torn medial collateral ligament (MCL), chose to undergo conservative treatment and is well ahead of schedule. Saturday was able to participate fully in practice all week and has a shot to play this weekend. Even if he doesn't take the field this week, the progress he is making has to make the Colts, and Peyton Manning in particular, very happy. If not this week, expect to see Saturday back next week in tandem with his quarterback.

Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers: Grant had a nice first week, even while operating at less than top speed. But Grant was reportedly very sore at halftime of Monday night's contest, a sign that the hamstring was clearly not fully healed. The Packers have helped Grant manage this injury well, as they are no doubt acutely aware of the risk of this turning into a season-long problem. Consequently Grant was kept to limited practice reps early in the week to allow his leg some more rest.

Grant did practice fully Friday and expects to play, but he is listed as questionable, and the Packers will want to see how he feels Saturday morning before they make a final decision on his status. Coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "He looked good. Really the question for Ryan will be tomorrow, same thing we went through last week. How does the hamstring feel in the morning? They worked it. They pushed him as far as he probably could go today, and we'll see how he is tomorrow." If Grant feels good Saturday, his chances of playing go way up.

Teammate Brandon Jackson is listed as probable and is expected to play after suffering a concussion Monday night that kept him out of practice Wednesday and limited Thursday. In fact, Jackson will likely be used more to balance Grant's playing time, given that Grant is still not 100 percent.

Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Brown did not play last week after aggravating his injured hamstring mid-week. This week did not exactly provide encouragement that he is ready to return. Brown is listed as questionable, but did not practice Wednesday and practiced only on a limited basis Thursday and Friday. Brown told the Philadelphia Daily News that he was "very limited" after Thursday's practice. I trust the words of the athlete, and this does not sound like he is confident in his recovery just yet. Of course there is the extra day, given that the Eagles play Monday night, but Brown will likely be a game-time decision, something fantasy owners should shy away from. Besides, given the fact that Brown spent most of the preseason and the first week of the season injured (first the Achilles', now the hamstring), it would be worth watching his first-game performance to see how he fares before expecting big things.

Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: McGahee was active last week, but you wouldn't know it. He spent the entire game on the sidelines, pacing a bit, hoping to get into the game. But the Ravens' coaching staff decided it would be best to wait. McGahee is now listed as probable in Week 2 and is expected to take the field Monday night (the game was moved to Monday because of Hurricane Ike in Texas).

As far as how the knee feels, the Ravens' official Web site quoted McGahee as saying "It gets better every day, so I can't complain." In addition to having the extra week to rest his knee, McGahee had additional time to work with a new offensive system and get into game shape. Expect McGahee to see action Monday, although he may not appear as the "feature" back. The Baltimore Sun reports that a full workload may not be in the game plan for McGahee, as he will likely split carries with Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain. McGahee will need to prove his commitment to working hard as a team player, while demonstrating that he can physically handle the workload before he is allowed to assume a major role. Fantasy owners should keep that in mind.

And a couple of IDP tidbits ...

OK, Carly. This section is introduced this week per your request.

Derrick Brooks, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Brooks is still dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. He has not been able to practice all week and is listed as questionable. Unfortunately, his 193-consecutive-game streak is at risk of being broken this week, but ultimately the team needs to make the best decision for his long-term health. Expect Brooks to be a game-time decision.

Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tennessee Titans: Haynesworth suffered a concussion during last week's contest, and as a result was held out of practice all week. Haynesworth says he expects to play, but the team will not likely make a final decision until Sunday morning before the game. He is officially listed as questionable. Concussions are not something teams take lightly, and Haynesworth will have a series of tests he will need to pass before he is cleared to play.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, San Diego Chargers: Cromartie has a sore hip that kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. He was able to practice on a limited basis Friday and is listed as questionable, so he has a chance of being on the field. He is also likely to be a game-time decision. The Chargers have to hope they will have him available to match up against Denver's double threats, Brandon Marshall (returning this week after a suspension) and impressive rookie Eddie Royal.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured-reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for Week 2.

Aaron Stecker, RB, New Orleans Saints: You knew Colston was out with a surgically repaired thumb. Stecker now joins him with a hamstring injury. Reggie Bush looked good last week, and Pierre Thomas showed he was a factor. Expect Deuce McAllister to get back into the game this week as well, although how much he will be utilized remains a question.

Drew Bennett, WR, St. Louis Rams: He has a foot fracture. He will appear in this section for at least a month.

Brodie Croyle, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Croyle has a separated shoulder and will likely miss two weeks, minimum.

Bobby Engram, WR and Maurice Morris, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Seattle's poor offense and their string of bad luck continue. Expect these two to be here for a few more weeks.

Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans: The knee, the hamstring, and everything else. His timetable is very hard to predict right now.

Kevin Curtis, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Still recovering from sports-hernia surgery but coming along nicely. The Eagles hope to have him back in the first half of October.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at 12 p.m. EST. Good luck in Week 2!