Stephania Bell: Peyton Hillis

Week 4 Thursday injury update

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


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

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

Quarterbacks

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

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



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

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

Running Backs

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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



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



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



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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Tight Ends

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

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

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



Other notes

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

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



If you're fortunate enough to be left standing in your fantasy league after another injury-filled Sunday, you may be limping your way into the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Brett Davis/US PresswireThis is not a sight fantasy owners wanted to see from Andre Johnson again.
Exhibit A: One of my fantasy teams finally had its original ensemble back together ... for a week. Then Sunday came, and two of the players who had helped successfully launch my fantasy season were injured again. Running back Peyton Hillis and wide receiver Andre Johnson left their respective games with injuries. While neither was an aggravation of their original ailments, they do seem to be somehow connected, if only by the running theme of steady misfortune. Hillis turned in a decent performance, providing both rushing and receiving yards, but was absent late in the game. Hillis was seen lying on the treatment table, appearing to have his leg worked on by members of the Cleveland Browns' medical staff. On Monday, the Browns indicated Hillis had a "left hip strain" and was considered day-to-day. The diagnosis is vague, making it difficult to interpret just how serious this is, but with Hillis just coming off an extended injury absence, there has to be concern. The Browns play on Thursday night, casting further doubt on Hillis' availability.

As for Johnson, he was due for a big game with newly anointed quarterback T.J. Yates (filling in for the injured Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, both now on injured reserve) looking to get the ball to the All-Pro receiver. Johnson was actually converging on 100 yards receiving when a familiar -- and scary -- sight unfolded. In the third quarter, Johnson pulled up while running a deep route, then went to the ground in pain. Eventually he hopped off the field, keeping his left foot in the air, and he was tended to on the sideline. As it turns out, the injury was to his other (nonsurgical) leg, which is a relief from the standpoint that there is no setback to the right side. On the other hand, Johnson has joined the ranks of fellow wide receivers Julio Jones and Miles Austin in suffering bilateral hamstring injuries within the same season. The Houston Chronicle reports the Texans believe that this latest injury to Johnson is far less severe than the previous one. Coach Gary Kubiak is calling Johnson day-to-day, but the sense is he will be out for at least Week 14.

Despite the aforementioned injury catastrophes, my team will indeed limp into the playoffs and hope to benefit from waiver-wire pickups suggested by my colleagues at ESPN.com. Hopefully you will do the same.

And then this happened ...

[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhThere's still some hope that Matt Forte could return by the end of the regular season.
• As significant as the injuries to the two above players seemed at the time, at least in my world, there was perhaps no more devastating and surprising blow than the one dealt to the Chicago Bears when running back Matt Forte hurt his knee. Forte was upended by a tackle, which at first glance appeared to deliver the most force to his left knee area. It was Forte's right knee, however, that sustained the injury, a Grade 2 MCL (medial collateral ligament) sprain. The MCL reinforces the inner aspect of the knee joint, and an injury here particularly compromises lateral mobility, making cutting and directional changes difficult.



Not all Grade 2, or moderate, sprains are equal and can represent a range of damage (from roughly 30 percent to 70 percent tearing of the ligament), hence the variability of the timetable. The more damage, the greater instability results at the knee and the longer it takes to heal. Presuming all other structures remain intact (and the confirmation after Forte's MRI was that the ACL was not torn), an isolated tear of the MCL presents a better prognosis than a more complex tear involving other ligaments, the meniscus or the fibrous tissue of the joint capsule itself. Forte could miss as little as two weeks or upward of a month. It's worth noting that Forte suffered a mild MCL sprain in his left knee in 2009 and played through the injury but struggled on the field. The Bears are optimistic that Forte will return before the regular season is over, but his progress over the next week to 10 days will give better clues.

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks was on the injury report heading into Week 13. Starks was injured in Week 11 with sprains to his right knee and ankle. Despite the short week heading into the Thanksgiving Day game, Starks was able to suit up and managed to get through the game, albeit with a sore ankle. After a 10-day respite between games, it appeared Starks was in better shape when the Packers traveled to play the New York Giants. But it was not meant to be. Starks was injured in the second quarter and did not return. After three straight weeks of problems with the ankle, it stands to reason that Starks will have to scale his activity back. Consider him highly questionable for Week 14.

Quick hits

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Jeffrey G. Pittenger/US PresswireMichael Vick has missed three games since injuring his ribs against the Cardinals last month.
• The Philadelphia Eagles see signs of hope that quarterback Michael Vick will return in Week 14. Vick resumed throwing Monday and told reporters he expects to play Sunday. He has not fully recovered from the two broken ribs he sustained in Week 10, as the bones are still healing, but the key to his return is whether he can be effective enough both throwing the ball and running with it. If Vick can practice every day this week and gradually ramp up his activity, it's conceivable he could rejoin his team this weekend.



• Teammate Jeremy Maclin would like to be on the field with Vick and says he hopes to return to practice this week. Maclin, who is dealing with a shoulder sprain and a strained hamstring, suffered a setback with the hamstring the last time he tried to practice. According to the Eagles' website, Maclin said the hamstring is the limiting factor. "There's ways around the shoulder," Maclin said. "We just have to make sure the hamstring's right." Wednesday will be a big day at the Eagles' practice facility.

• The Minnesota Vikings would like to have Adrian Peterson on the field in Week 14, but we've heard optimism early in the week before, only to find out late in the week it was premature. Peterson did make some progress last week, doing some light jogging and increasing his overall activity. His ankle was not ready for agility and cutting maneuvers, however, and Peterson was not yet able to practice. While coach Leslie Frazier called Peterson "very close" to returning, Peterson's activity this week will go a lot further in convincing us one way or the other.

• The Detroit Lions thought Kevin Smith had made enough progress in 10 days after his ankle injury to return him to the field. Unfortunately, it took only two-plus quarters of football to find out otherwise. Smith aggravated his ankle injury Sunday night when he went down without contact (never a good sign) and was struggling with his mobility prior to that moment. It appears unlikely that he would be ready to test it again by Sunday.

• Things are not looking good for running back Darren McFadden. Despite all the positive-speak initially from coach Hue Jackson, his latest remarks have a different tone, suggesting progress is not being made as expected. McFadden has already missed more than a month because of a midfoot sprain, and his absence is expected to continue.



Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times reported that Jackson does not expect McFadden to miss the rest of the season. Well, neither did we. In fact, it had not been a real thought until Jackson introduced it as a possibility. Jackson also noted that there was no timetable for McFadden's return. Those two comments cause concern as to what the real status of McFadden and his foot is going forward. After the initial MRI, Jackson said there was no major structural damage and hinted at a speedy recovery. While the structure of the midfoot is complex, and pain or inflammation in the area, even in the absence of major disruption to the anatomy, can be severely limiting, the slow progress of McFadden after such early optimism is frustrating. At this point it is difficult to have confidence in McFadden's status, especially as long as he is absent from the practice field.

Schaub, Cassel likely done for season

November, 15, 2011
11/15/11
3:06
PM ET


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 CSNBayArea.com. 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.



Setbacks with hamstrings. That was the theme of Week 9, and it just might turn out to be the theme of the season. Consider the number of fantasy players whose seasons have already been significantly affected by hamstring injuries; names such as Miles Austin, Peyton Hillis, Andre Johnson and Daniel Thomas come to mind. Oh, wait! We're stealing the thunder of our Tuesday injury report, so here we go.

[+] EnlargeRyan Mathews
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesRyan Mathews owners need to make a quick decision on whether to start him this week.
The status of the San Diego Chargers is important early in the week since they will be playing Thursday night. Naturally, as has been the trend all season, there are concerns at both running back and wide receiver. Ryan Mathews did not play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers after suffering a minor groin injury in the Monday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mathews did go through some light exercise before the game (remember, he was listed as questionable before Sunday's game, so there was at least a chance he could have played), then went through the team's light walk-through practice Monday. So far, signs are encouraging that he will play. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson remained on the injury report because of his hamstring but had a huge game in Week 9, including 140-plus yards and three touchdowns. Jackson proved he could function well despite not being quite at full health. Unfortunately, teammate Malcom Floyd is not faring as well. Floyd was unable to play Sunday after apparently aggravating his hip injury in the Chargers' Monday night game and has not yet returned to practice. His status for Thursday is in doubt.

Likewise, the Oakland Raiders will be playing Thursday night, making all the more critical the status of running back Darren McFadden, who has been ruled out, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Heading into Sunday's contest, coach Hue Jackson had intimated that McFadden could be kept out of Week 9 with the Week 10 game coming just four days later. In other words, many expected McFadden to be ready to go Thursday. On Monday, we learned McFadden still had not tested his injured right foot running, casting doubt on his ability to be ready by Thursday. McFadden is just two weeks removed from the injury, and as noted in an earlier blog post, the midfoot is critical for transferring weight and injuries to the area can be tricky. Given McFadden's history of prior foot injuries, ensuring he is healthy enough to advance his activity is key to avoiding lingering problems. It appears Michael Bush will be in line for another start with Taiwan Jones as his backup.

Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis has had his share of challenges this season. Things did not get any easier when Hillis suffered a major setback in Friday practice, aggravating his hamstring injury on a running play. A subsequent MRI suggested the injury had increased in severity, and Hillis was expected to miss an additional two to four weeks, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Naturally, he sat out Sunday's game and already has been declared out for Week 10. Coach Pat Shurmur told reporters the team "has not discussed" placing Hillis on injured reserve. Meanwhile, teammate Montario Hardesty also has been declared out for Week 10 as he recovers from his calf injury. The struggling Chris Ogbonnaya remains the likely starter.

[+] EnlargeTBD
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezMiles Austin injured his right hamstring on this play Sunday.
Sticking with the hamstring theme, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin pulled up lame after a big reception Sunday, suffering an injury to his hamstring. With all the setbacks to players returning from significant hamstring injuries, many assumed that was the case for Austin as well; he had dealt with one on his left side earlier in the season. As it turns out, Austin pulled the opposite hamstring (his right), and according to ESPN Dallas, this injury is "higher" than the earlier one. Austin missed Weeks 3 and 4 after suffering a setback to the left hamstring he originally injured during the preseason. He returned to action following the Cowboys' Week 5 bye and managed 74 yards receiving. After two subsequent low-production games, Austin appeared on track for a bigger day Sunday, until the injury occurred. The current projection is for Austin to miss two to four weeks.



Quick Hits


• The wait for Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson to return might go on a bit longer. Although Johnson worked out Monday, coach Gary Kubiak was unsure whether Johnson would practice Wednesday. The mantra remains the same: Johnson will not return until he feels 100 percent. Whether that is this week or after the team's Week 11 bye has not yet been determined.

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore sprained his left ankle in the second quarter of Sunday's game but continued to play. Although he appeared to be in serious discomfort after the game, subsequent X-rays came back negative, and both Gore and coach Jim Harbaugh have said he will be fine. Harbaugh told the Sacramento Bee, "He's feeling like Frank." Ah, just what Gore fantasy owners and 49ers fans want to hear. It sounds as if he is prepared for their big matchup Sunday against the New York Giants.

• But will the Giants have all their weapons on the field? Right now wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw, both of whom sat out in Week 9 with injuries, have a chance to play Sunday. Nicks (hamstring) and Bradshaw (foot) were to be re-evaluated Tuesday, and whether they can return to practice later in the week should hint at their availability.

[+] EnlargeJones
Elsa/Getty ImagesFelix Jones could return to action this week, but will he be able to supplant DeMarco Murray as the Cowboys' primary ball carrier?
• Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones could return this week after missing three weeks with his left high ankle sprain. The Dallas Morning News reports Jones did some cutting maneuvers while working out Monday, and coach Jason Garrett says the Cowboys are "hopeful" about his progress. Naturally, they want to see what Jones can do as the week progresses, but if all goes well, they could have Jones alongside DeMarco Murray.

• The Indianapolis Colts really haven't had much in the way of positives this season. Now they might have suffered another big loss in tight end Dallas Clark, who sustained what the team referred to as a lower leg injury. He is expected to be out "more than a week," according to coach Jim Caldwell. Note the vague injury information from the Colts, which is standard. Even their hint of more than a week suggests seriousness on the part of the team.

• ESPN.com reports Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is expected to miss Week 10. He is scheduled to meet with doctors and undergo further tests in what continues to be an ongoing recovery from the concussion he suffered in Week 6.

• The Buffalo Bills have lost their kicker, Rian Lindell, for an extended period with a serious shoulder injury. They have signed Dave Rayner, who filled in for Sebastian Janikowski for a week earlier this season, to take over for the near future.

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

It turns out Thursday was a good reminder day.

We were reminded that no two injuries, even with the same classification, are identical. Witness the "hamstring strain." So far we have seen a range of missed games for players who have suffered this injury, from zero games missed (Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers) to two games missed (Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans, albeit nonconsecutive) to four games missed and counting (Andre Johnson, WR, Texans), with a surgery involved.

The point is, while an injury might be labeled the same way, technically, on numerous team injury reports, the severity, treatment, recovery time and any number of other factors can be quite different. Perhaps most importantly, the rate at which an individual heals cannot be quantified or predicted with any degree of certainty for any particular injury. There are time ranges for certain types of tissue repair (up to six weeks typically for bone healing, for instance), and therefore there are projection estimates. But there also are variations in treatment. Sometimes there is debate -- yes, debate! -- about whether a particular condition is better managed aggressively with surgery, conservatively with rehabilitation or the hybrid, an initial conservative approach followed by offseason surgery.

On Thursday, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw and his injured foot reminded us there are many variables that factor into how an injury affects an athlete. Those variables can render the outlook either bleak (Bradshaw out indefinitely because of a cracked bone in his foot, as reported by the Newark Star-Ledger) or promising (Bradshaw's injury is not serious and he should play Sunday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter), depending on how the information is packaged. Typically, much to the dismay of those seeking instant definitive responses on Twitter, it's impossible to determine simply from one strand of information, even if it involves a specific diagnosis, what the expectation for missed time will be.

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Chris Faytok/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireIt's still too early to tell what Ahmad Bradshaw's status is for Week 9.
Technically, both statements regarding Bradshaw could be true. Bradshaw could have a cracked bone, and the injury still could be considered not serious, as in not season- or career-threatening. Bradshaw still could be out indefinitely ... which ultimately could turn out to be three days or three weeks (or more). According to ESPN New York, even Giants coach Tom Coughlin seemed in the dark about the course Bradshaw's care will take and whether surgery will be an option. "I'm not going to speculate on what the doctors are going to decide or say. I don't know," the coach said. For now, the biggest hint Coughlin gave us was that the guys who are practicing will play, and Bradshaw has not yet practiced this week.

Athletes have physically performed with foot fractures in the past. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones ran at the 2011 NFL combine with a fracture in his fifth metatarsal (incidentally, the same bone Bradshaw had surgically repaired and that appears to be the source of his current discomfort) and went on to have surgery later. Some might recall Jones ran rather well despite the broken bone. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played last season with what was originally called a sprained foot. The injury was actually a small fracture (also on the fifth metatarsal), and later his injury was described as a broken foot. As in Bradshaw's case, the injury was related to a prior incident. While the word "fracture" sounded ominous and the injury was undoubtedly painful, he never missed time.

The ultimate message is this: No matter what information we might have about an injury, the human body does not subscribe to fantasy football deadlines. And so we continue to suffer as we move closer to Sunday ...

Quick Hits


• It might be another week of waiting for Andre Johnson. This would be his fifth missed game, but he is just one month removed from the surgical procedure to address his torn hamstring. The hope was that he could return in three to four weeks, so it's not as if Johnson is way past the projected timeline, but as Johnson has noted, doctors told him it could take up to six weeks to fully recover (and here you can refer back to the above note on how individuals heal at different rates).

The primary issue is how Johnson feels. Reports suggest he has looked good running when participating in practice, but Johnson still has an awareness of the injured part. The team, wisely, does not want him on the playing field until he is symptom-free. It would be a far worse scenario for him to return only to suffer another injury that could cost him additional time. While his absence is frustrating to fantasy owners -- and no doubt to the Texans and Johnson himself -- imagine how frustrating an early departure to further injury would be. It's worth the wait ... and it looks as if we'll be waiting beyond Week 9. The Texans continue to maintain Johnson is being evaluated on a daily basis and will not "automatically" sit out through their Week 11 bye.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden was observed leaving the practice facility on crutches and in a walking boot Wednesday evening. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Raiders coach Hue Jackson indicated the team would consider holding a guy who was "close" to being ready out of Sunday's game, given the Raiders will play again four days later. The Raiders face the San Diego Chargers next Thursday in the first of a series of Thursday night games. Since McFadden is still protecting the foot from bearing weight, he's not in line to run up and down the field by this weekend. His presence in Week 10 isn't looking automatic at this point, either, but there's still time for him to progress.

• Chargers tight end Antonio Gates had a normal practice Wednesday, and that makes it two weeks in a row. It's perhaps more impressive this week since the Chargers played Monday night. Also practicing for the Chargers on Wednesday was running back Mike Tolbert, who was held out Monday because of a strained hamstring. It's a good thing he's looking healthy, because teammate Ryan Mathews has not practiced since injuring his groin Monday night, and it's looking as if he will miss Week 9. Emerging running back Curtis Brinkley suffered a concussion Monday night, and he does not look as if he'll be available, either. Receiver Vincent Jackson did not practice Wednesday, but so far this season, he has missed more midweek practices than he has made. At least it seems that way. Still, he returned to practice Thursday and has played each week, so it's tough to imagine him missing this one. Malcom Floyd didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday, either, but after racking up 100 receiving yards Monday night after coming off a hip injury, you could say he earned some rest. If Floyd doesn't return Friday, it's time to start getting nervous.

[+] EnlargePeyton Hillis
Kyle Terada/US PresswireGood news: Peyton Hillis was back at practice Thursday.
&#8226 Alert, alert: good fantasy news! There's so much gloom among fantasy owners contending with injured players, it's nice to be able to insert something positive in this blog once in a while. Just when Peyton Hillis owners were resigning themselves to another week without him, his status took a turn for the better Thursday. Hillis returned to practice Thursday, and according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (via Twitter), he was in full pads, participated in team drills and looked good. Cabot also quoted Hillis as saying if today were Sunday, he'd play. While this all is very encouraging, we flash back to last week, when Hillis practiced and then was increasingly sore the next day, after which he did not return ... until today. If Hillis can put in back-to-back practices, then fantasy owners and Browns fans can start getting excited.

&#8226 According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, Cardinals running back Beanie Wells has said he expects his knee to be an issue all season. On Sunday, just one week from suffering what the team thought could be a season-ending injury, Wells ran as if nothing was wrong. Yet this week he reminds us it could be a problem all year, and he remained limited in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. This appears as if it will be the weekly scenario going forward when it comes to practice. The question is, will Wells' weekly productivity be that consistent?

&#8226 New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has not practiced at all this week, and the bruised heel that caused him to miss last week's game is likely to keep him out again.

&#8226 Broncos running back Willis McGahee just might be true to his word. McGahee indicated he expected to play in Week 9 after fracturing the fourth metacarpal in his right hand in Week 7. He had a plate and screws put in to stabilize the fracture, but he has been back on the field, practicing with his hand wrapped. The primary issue is gripping the ball. Given the wide grip required to carry a football, it's easier on the recently repaired bone than if, for example, McGahee needed to close his hand around a baseball, which requires more motion in the hand. That's not to say it will be comfortable, but pain is something McGahee can potentially overcome. If the medical staff is confident the hand can be adequately protected and McGahee can carry/protect/block to the satisfaction of his coaches, he has a decent chance of being in the lineup Sunday.

&#8226 The aforementioned Julio Jones is set to return from his hamstring injury this week. Jones missed two games, then entered a well-timed bye week. He has been practicing all week and is expected to play Sunday.

&#8226 As if the Bradshaw situation weren't enough, the Giants could be without starting wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who strained his hamstring Sunday. Nicks has not yet practiced, but he also has a history of going right up to game day before a decision on his status is made. The Giants did not appear overly concerned about the severity of the injury, but they certainly don't want it to take a turn for the worse. Expect this to possibly come down to pregame warm-ups.

&#8226 Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham hasn't practiced this week after sitting out Week 8. Gresham felt his hamstring tighten up in pregame warm-ups, and the decision was made to hold him out. Apparently it's more than just a pregame issue; things aren't looking good for Gresham's chance of suiting up in Week 9.

&#8226 And finally, expect Cowboys running back Felix Jones to miss this week's game. It would have been early to expect him to return from the high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 6, and he hasn't practiced at all this week. More DeMarco Murray!

See you at my injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET, and I'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 9 in my Saturday morning blog.


In the realm of injuries, this was no Week 7, thankfully. That doesn't mean fantasy rosters escaped unscathed. Oh no, not a chance of that happening.

[+] EnlargeSan Diego's Mike Tolbert
AP Photo/Charles KrupaMike Tolbert missed Monday night's game but he might be the only healthy Chargers running back for next week.
• The San Diego Chargers' running backs are in the injury mix again. Ryan Mathews injured his groin late in Monday night's game and did not return. Mike Tolbert was dressed and running on the field before the game, trying to convince coaches he should play. He didn't. And then there was Curtis Brinkley, who stepped in when Mathews stepped out. He delivered a touchdown, some carries, some catches, then suffered a concussion. His status is now murky as well. With all this happening Monday night, who knows how things will shape up by Sunday? Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune expects Tolbert to be ready to go. The other two backs have fresh injuries, so it's likely a decision won't come until later.



• The Cleveland Browns' running back situation is also a bit messy. Peyton Hillis did not play Sunday despite making the trip to San Francisco. Given his midweek setback with his hamstring last week, there is no counting on him for Week 9, no matter how badly the team needs him. Montario Hardesty will not play for a while, now that he has suffered a moderate strain (Grade 2) of his right medial gastrocnemius (calf) muscle, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Hardesty definitely will miss time but the extent is unknown. These injuries often take time to recover from, and certainly as a running back, push-off requires use of the calf muscle, so there's no getting around it. Plan on him being down a month. How many of you had Chris Ogbonnaya on your roster? I'm not going to lie. As a Hillis owner, I did. I was rewarded with 10 points. The question then is, will Ogbonnaya repeat? Perhaps not, but he might be worth a look if you're hurting. The Browns are glad they took a chance on him since he was handling the load Sunday when Hardesty went down. Also, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain-Dealer reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Browns added running back Thomas Clayton to their roster. Clayton was active for the Browns for two games last season.

New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has a hamstring strain. The Giants are calling him day-to-day, and there appears to be no sense of panic at the moment. According to the Star-Ledger, Nicks is expecting to play this weekend against the New England Patriots. Teammate Ahmad Bradshaw was in and out of Sunday's game, getting X-rays on his right foot. The fact that he returned to the game after getting his foot retaped is a positive sign, and Bradshaw told the New York Daily News, "I knew it was fine. Just being precautious about it." That sounds like a good thing.

Fred Davis has a Grade 1 ankle sprain, according to coach Mike Shanahan. Given that this is the most minor version of an ankle sprain, it does not look like it will keep Davis off the field Sunday, but naturally we'll wait to see how much he does in practice. At least Davis is not part of a tricky shared backfield. Speaking of which, the Washington Redskins have added Tashard Choice to their running back roster, but he will miss Week 9 with a hamstring injury.

[+] EnlargeKevin Kolb
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinKevin Kolb's first season in Arizona has been up and down, and now he's got a toe injury.
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb has an injured right toe, which might make it difficult for him to play in Week 9. Kolb acknowledged to reporters that the injury to his plant foot made it difficult to throw passes with the same velocity. On Monday, Kolb was in a walking boot, saying he had "no idea" what his status for Sunday would be.

There also are those who were sidelined in Week 8 whose status is of interest for Week 9.

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is now out of his walking boot and "walking freely," according to Tony Softli of 101ESPN in St. Louis. Removal of the boot and walking with a normal gait are good measures of progress, as the injured area is stressed with every full weight-bearing step. If there was pain or any instability, Bradford would not be able to walk without a limp. Now let's see whether Bradford can get back to practice and make throws by the end of the week.

• We thought the Houston Texans might have wide receiver Andre Johnson back in the mix Sunday, but he did not feel ready. There is no way the Texans are going to press him into service if he is still experiencing any abnormal sensation in the hamstring. Last week we noted Johnson reported "tugging" in the leg. If he's feeling that while running at less than full speed, there is no way he can accelerate to top speed. Coach Gary Kubiak said Monday that the Texans hope Johnson will be ready for Week 9 but noted Johnson's symptoms were limiting factors this past week.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones seemed to benefit from the bye week. Jones was back in practice Monday and appears on track to play in Week 9, barring a setback.

• We haven't heard much from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers regarding LeGarrette Blount, but what we're hearing now is encouraging. Coach Raheem Morris told New Orleans reporters that Blount would return for this week's game. It will be nice to see Blount in practice, and see how he's moving following his knee sprain and whether he's wearing a protective brace, but with Earnest Graham done for the season, the Bucs surely could use him.



Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden went into the bye week with a midfoot sprain, but the team seemed optimistic he'd return in Week 9. Well, it's preparation time for Week 9, and McFadden was not in practice Monday. It doesn't mean he won't be on the field by midweek, but until we see him running, there's reason to maintain some fantasy insurance.

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.

Quarterbacks

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
10/25/11
5:34
PM ET


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.



Never a dull moment in the world of injuries. Whose health could impact your fantasy roster this week?

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Jeff Curry/Getty ImagesSam Bradford may not be able to take advantage of newly acquired wideout Brandon Lloyd this week.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: Coach Steve Spagnuolo told reporters Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday, and Bradford has been wearing a protective boot on that left leg since. Wednesday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Bradford will not test his ankle until Friday. According to ESPN.com, Bradford is expected to start Sunday, despite the injury, "because although mobility would be compromised, the plant leg is not affected." While it's true that the injured ankle is on Bradford's front leg, as he noted, "Obviously, I have to be able to drop back. I have to be able to have some mobility where I'm not just standing back there." Mobility is important for Bradford to function effectively and protect himself. Quarterbacks are more at risk in the pocket, and if Bradford were to get tackled with his left foot planted, it could easily aggravate the injury, turning what appears to be a mild high ankle sprain into something more serious. No doubt all these factors will be taken into consideration when the team evaluates what Bradford can do Friday and before a final determination about his status for Sunday is made. Don't consider him a lock just yet.

Running Backs

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: Hillis was still not practicing Wednesday because of his injured left hamstring. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported via Twitter that Hillis would do pool running Thursday (this allows him to practice running gait in water resistance with less impact) and noted the Browns are calling him day-to-day. It will be interesting to see if Hillis can practice at all Friday, which would certainly hint more at his availability Sunday. At the very least, it's reasonable to expect Hillis will not be at full strength by the time the weekend rolls around, suggesting that even if he is active, he's likely to share the workload with Montario Hardesty.

Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions: The Lions haven't said much about Best's condition since he suffered a concussion last Sunday, but their roster moves may be saying a little more. ESPN.com reported James Davis was signed to the practice squad, while Keiland Williams and Maurice Morris split reps in practice. The Lions had acquired Ronnie Brown from the Eagles for Jerome Harrison, but that trade was voided Wednesday after Harrison failed his physical (ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Harrison has a brain tumor). The Lions have been challenged by injury at the running back position since rookie Mikel Leshoure went down in the preseason with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Best has now suffered his third concussion in two years; the first caused him to miss the last four games of his final season at Cal and the second occurred during this preseason. There is much that remains unknown when it comes to concussions, but it is no secret that returning to play before the brain has completely recovered places the athlete at greater risk for subsequent and potentially more severe injury. While there's no way of knowing when Best will return, it appears highly unlikely he will be on the field in Week 7.



Wide Receivers

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons: Jones was not in practice Wednesday, but according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, coach Mike Smith has not yet ruled him out for Sunday. Smith acknowledged that Jones would likely try to push himself to return but will leave the decision-making to the medical staff. The Falcons do have a bye in Week 8, and while that alone would not drive the decision to sit Jones, it certainly could help sway in the direction of rest if there is any question as to his health. There should be clearer indications by Friday as to whether Jones will indeed miss another week.

Tight Ends

[+] EnlargeAntonio Gates
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesAntonio Gates hasn't had a catch since Week 1 against the Vikings.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: For a couple of weeks, we have heard rumblings that Gates was targeting a Week 7 return, and the signs are still pointing in that direction. Gates practiced Monday and participated in an official limited workout Wednesday. The hope is that he will continue to increase his activity and be available Sunday. Gates has stayed away from guaranteeing that he'll play Sunday, understanding first-hand that his condition has the ability to flare up at any time. Even if he does return, there is no way of knowing how he will respond to his first game action in more than a month. Gates has expressed hope that once he returns he could stay "active," but he has also learned from experience that this will be an ongoing management issue. For fantasy owners, it appears Gates will be in line to suit up Sunday, but you will want to check Sunday morning to be sure.

More news:


• The bye week looks to have helped a lot of other Chargers dealing with injuries. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who had a hamstring injury heading into Week 5, did not return to practice Wednesday but is expected to return Thursday and play Sunday. Jackson has been playing through abdominal and hamstring injuries and has been largely productive. The hope is there will be no setbacks and Jackson's health will continue to improve. On the running back front, Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews were back in practice Wednesday. Tolbert (concussion) and Mathews (calf) are expected to play Sunday.

LeGarrette Blount may have traveled across the pond to London with his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates, but he is not practicing with them. The Bucs still have not said much about Blount and his injured knee (reported to be an MCL sprain) but his action, or lack thereof, says plenty about his not being ready to return. Indications are that Earnest Graham will again start in Blount's place.



Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is making progress with his activity but is not yet back in practice. The Houston Chronicle reports coach Gary Kubiak has not ruled Johnson out for Sunday's game but he acknowledges Johnson still has a ways to go to return to action. According to Kubiak, Johnson is "right on schedule," running routes and catching some passes. Earlier in the week, Johnson noted there was still some weakness in the leg, which is perfectly reasonable, considering it has been exactly two weeks since his surgical procedure to address the torn hamstring tendon. Johnson's comment that he had been told at the time of the procedure it could take "six weeks at most" to recover set off alarm bells, but it's important to look at Johnson's entire statement. He also noted that he felt like he would be ready sooner and that he was making progress. The key for Johnson, beyond the immediate healing of the area following surgery, is returning to normal strength so as not to risk a subsequent injury in another part of the hamstring. Based on his current activity, it's looking like a Week 8 return is possible, which would be consistent with early projections following his procedure.

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Brett Davis/US PresswireAndre Johnson is making progress from his hamstring injury but it's tough to rely on him in your lineup this week.
• Johnson's teammate, quarterback Matt Schaub, is a bit beat up but is still expected to play. Schaub has a sore chest, hip and knee and has been held to limited practice to allow his body some recovery. He is still expected to start this week at Tennessee but will need to try to avoid incurring additional physical abuse.

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace is another star receiver dealing with a strained hamstring. Wallace's injury was referred to as minor from the start, but his absence from Wednesday's practice had many wondering whether he could make it back for Sunday. There seems to be little concern that Wallace will be able to play, but fantasy owners should keep an eye on his practice participation over the next two days.

Miami Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas seemed to emerge just fine from Monday night's game. Wednesday, Thomas was kept to a limited practice, understandable given the recent injury and the late game. Thomas told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he thinks he could handle a bigger workload, and he may have to. Teammate Reggie Bush did not practice Wednesday, not because of the neck injury that caused him to exit the Monday night game early but because of a groin injury suffered in Week 2, according to the Palm Beach Post. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall also sat out Wednesday practice with a sore quad. Bush and Marshall practiced Thursday, however, so another effort on Friday should secure their status for Sunday.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen did not practice Wednesday because of a turf toe ailment, although by all accounts it looks to be a mild case. Coach Ron Rivera told the Gaston Gazette the team wanted to let it "calm down a little bit" but that he expected Olsen to return Thursday. If Olsen practices without issue the next two days, it should not affect him Sunday.

Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai strained his right hamstring in Week 5 and has not yet returned to practice. Addai is not expected to play Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has been doing perhaps better than expected since suffering a pectoral strain in Week 5, but that doesn't mean he'll be under center on Sunday. Charlie Whitehurst has been taking the first team reps thus far, and coach Pete Carroll told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the team was preparing for Whitehurst to start. Jackson's activity does indicate, however, that his return may not be far off.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m., and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 7 in the Saturday morning blog!



Fantasy rosters are already challenged with bye week rotations and mounting injuries around the league. That didn't stop the injury toll from rising in Week 6, with some players sustaining their second major injuries of the season, and we're only one-third of the way through.



[+] EnlargeJason Campbell
AP Photo/Ben MargotJason Campbell was hoping to return in six weeks from his broken collarbone, but the trade for Carson Palmer probably seals his fate for this year.
The biggest news is the fractured collarbone suffered by Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell. While Campbell's injury is significant, perhaps more so is the deal to acquire Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals. Campbell underwent surgery Monday to repair the fracture and was hoping for a possible return in six weeks. Such a timeline would presume full healing and a full return to normal throwing, a lofty ambition and certainly far from guaranteed. By acquiring Palmer, it appears the Raiders are indeed moving forward with the goal of "trying to win now." At least that was coach Hue Jackson's response to the question of whether Campbell would be placed on injured reserve, according to Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. If Palmer helps the Raiders continue to move forward without missing a beat, Campbell will have all the time he needs to recover.

Week 6 also marked a first with two coaches suffering major injuries during a game (there's a reason players recovering from injury are not immediately cleared to be on the sidelines). New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was in the path of his own tight end, Jimmy Graham, as Graham was being tackled, and Payton took a shot to his left knee. The injury, a tibial plateau fracture with concurrent soft tissue damage, required surgery, and Payton will be non-weight-bearing for nearly two months. He'll be undergoing his own lengthy rehab well beyond the regular season. Across the field during the same game in which Payton was injured, Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant coach Jimmy Lake ruptured his patellar tendon while jumping up to celebrate an interception made by one of his defensive backs. Not a quick rehab on that front, either. Neither will be on the sidelines in the immediate future.

Quick Hits

[+] EnlargeJones
Elsa/Getty ImagesFelix Jones, already dealing with a shoulder injury, sprained his ankle against the Patriots on Sunday.
• The Dallas Cowboys finally had all their top offensive playmakers on the field for the first time since Week 1, but it lasted less than half a game. Running back Felix Jones, who was already nursing a sore shoulder after dislocating it in Week 2, suffered a left high ankle sprain and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks. The Dallas Morning News cites a source as saying Jones is expected to miss between two to four weeks. The reality with high ankle sprains is that the timetable is highly variable, depending in part upon the degree of the injury as well as the demands of the position.



The most serious high ankle sprains with complete ligament tears typically require surgery and are season-ending. The most mild, with no significant ligament damage and no measure of instability, can resolve within a couple of weeks. A key issue is whether there is enough ligamentous injury to cause a widening of the space between the two lower leg bones where they form the roof of the ankle joint. Gapping in that region can lead to chronic instability and arthritic changes. In essence, the area has to be allowed proper healing to allow for normal function of the ankle joint and to prevent long-term issues. The primary stress to that area is full weight bearing (every time the athlete takes a step). Cutting toward the inside can add further strain, but the biggest risk of aggravation comes from another player landing on the foot while the athlete is trying to rotate toward the inside (which is how Jones was injured in the first place). Running backs who have tried to return too quickly have struggled and often suffer setbacks (see the Atlanta Falcons' Michael Turner in 2009). It is impossible to state with certainty how long Jones will be sidelined, but fantasy owners should be prepared for a window that extends into November.

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford also is nursing an injured ankle. Coach Steve Spagnuolo referred to Bradford's injury as a high ankle sprain when speaking to reporters Monday. Bradford is in a walking boot, and his status is in question for Week 7. While he does not have the same mobility demands as a Felix Jones, he still needs to step into his throws to be effective. Spagnuolo perhaps best summed up how the injury could affect Bradford: "In my experience with the high ankle sprains, you just never know how long they're going to take. Fortunately, it's not the plant foot, so that helps a little bit. But my limited knowledge about throwing the football quarterback-wise is, it is from the bottom up. So you still need your legs and ankles to throw the ball effectively." Truth. The quarterback also needs them to protect himself from sustaining further injury. Don't be surprised if Bradford is out.



[+] EnlargePeyton Hillis
Kyle Terada/US PresswireIs Peyton Hillis the latest player to suffer the Madden Curse?
Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis is the latest fantasy starter to suffer a hamstring injury. Or so it seems. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Hillis exited early Sunday after he strained his hamstring by overextending his leg on the Browns' second drive of the game. Hillis ultimately came out in the second quarter and remained out for much of the game (no injury announcement was made by the team until the third quarter, adding to the confusion about his absence), yet tried to return in the fourth quarter to try to help his struggling team. A bit puzzling to be sure, but according to Hillis, he felt like he had to do something. He quickly realized he couldn't play. Hillis told the Plain-Dealer, "Yeah, it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do," hoping he had not made the injury worse. So far there is no indication as to what the Browns expect from Hillis this Sunday, but the good news is that the injury is not severe enough for the team to rule him out at this stage. We'll see whether he can get any practice time in this week, but fantasy owners should prepare for his potential absence.

Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best suffered his second concussion of the year Sunday (his first came during the preseason). Coach Jim Schwartz said Best's symptoms did not appear until after the game, not an entirely unusual occurrence. While the Lions have not ruled out Best for Week 7, he will have to go through the same routine (resolution of symptoms, return to baseline of neurocognitive testing, return to exercise without a return of symptoms, clearance by an independent neurological consultant to return to play) before he can take the field. We could see more of Maurice Morris or potentially Ronnie Brown, whom the Lions acquired Tuesday for Jerome Harrison.

• The San Diego Chargers had Mike Tolbert (concussion), Ryan Mathews (calf) and Antonio Gates (foot) back in practice Monday, but no one is declaring game status just yet. Vincent Jackson was not in practice early in the week but hopes to return by Wednesday, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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



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

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

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



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

Quarterbacks

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

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

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

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

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

Running Backs

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

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



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

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

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

Wide Receivers

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

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



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



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

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

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



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

Tight Ends

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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



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



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



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



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



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

Quarterbacks

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

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



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

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

Running Backs

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

Wide Receivers

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

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

Quick Hits


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



A number of fantasy stars went down in Week 5, and the news on at least one of them is not too encouraging.

Jermichael Finley
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesJermichael Finley could return by the end of the season, but it likely won't matter for fantasy owners if that happens.
Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday and it looks as if he could miss the remainder of the season. While it's possible he could return, his fantasy season is essentially done, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners (including, ahem, yours truly) who invested heavily in his talent. Finley did not disappoint but his knee failed to cooperate. The prognostic timetable in advance of Finley's surgery was that he would miss 3-6 weeks. After surgery, however, that timetable became a projected 8-10 weeks. According to Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Finley had a lateral meniscus tear and repairing it (as opposed to removing the torn meniscus) became an option, hence the expanded timetable.



Following meniscus repair, rehabilitation is much more conservative in an effort to protect the repaired tissue and ensure better healing. Even 10 weeks is optimistic in the case of a repair. The repair option is chosen, when possible, to try to preserve the long-term health of the knee as complete removal of a meniscus is associated with degenerative (arthritic) changes in the knee. Considering long-term health is the goal, there is no reason to rush a player back during the recovery process and potentially jeopardize the outcome. The Packers may ultimately decide to place Finley on injured reserve, something that is being evaluated in the context of the entire team's needs. Fantasy football owners can make the move to replace Finley on their rosters right away.

Four more teams are on bye in Week 6: the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers looks like he's in position to start on Sunday despite suffering a concussion late in last week's game.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers: Rodgers did not practice Wednesday, which was not surprising given that he suffered a concussion just last Sunday. At that time coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Rodgers was going through the protocol the team has in place following such injuries, adding, "I probably won't know his situation until [Thursday] morning, as far as his availability for the game, let alone practice."



Apparently, Thursday brought some encouraging news as Rodgers returned to practice. It's worth monitoring how Rodgers responds to the increased activity before penciling him into the start position. If he tolerates the activity well and returns for more Friday, then a Week 6 start is looking good.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears: Cutler has been given the go ahead to return to full practice and was on the field Wednesday doing just that. He is expected to start for the Bears in Week 6.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: Vick has indicated that he is feeling better this week following his Week 4 rib cartilage injury. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Vick says that he has "his throwing motion back." While Vick has certainly increased his activity in the last few days, he has not yet returned to practice. Vick maintains that he does not need to practice in order to play, but the risk remains that the injury could be easily aggravated by contact. He has not been ruled out for Sunday's game, but it would be surprising to see him back in Week 6.

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Could the consecutive starts streak end at 289? It's at least a topic of discussion this week as Favre is reportedly battling tendinitis in his throwing elbow. Generally speaking, tendinitis in that area refers to inflammation of the common extensor tendon, a wide band that represents the "common" attachment of the wrist extensors just above the elbow. In addition to extending the wrist, the extensors are involved in grip. In the case of a quarterback, ball control and delivery is affected by the function of this group of muscles. Tendons are the tissue that anchor muscle to bone, so when muscles contract, the contractile energy is transferred through the tendon to the bony attachment, resulting in movement. The bottom line: If Favre throws, he's stressing the injured area. With rest being the best form of management, the question naturally arises as to just how much rest Favre will require. Coach Brad Childress told reporters that the team will limit Favre's practice reps in an effort to rest the elbow, and Favre told reporters he would consider sitting out a game or two if the condition worsens.



Really? Are we to believe the man who has played through an MCL sprain, ulnar nerve irritation, a partially torn biceps tendon, chronic ankle pain and various assorted other ailments might consider sitting for some tendinitis? It seems highly doubtful that Favre would sit because of pain alone but he might sit (emphasis on "might") if he feels that his condition would present a liability to the team. After Monday night's loss to the Jets, Favre lamented that some passes got away from him late in the game because of the elbow. Managing the elbow condition becomes the name of the game here because complete recovery is not likely to occur in-season and the Vikings' bye week has come and gone. It's certainly a situation worth watching for fantasy owners, but until a Sunday comes and goes without Favre on the field, it's hard to imagine him sitting out a game.

Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, Cleveland Browns: We noted the injuries to both quarterbacks in Tuesday's blog and the outlook is no better for either of them to return this week. In fact, coach Eric Mangini is indicating that the team is leaning toward Colt McCoy getting the start. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Mangini said Thursday that "the lean is more pronounced."

Running Backs

Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: As noted in Tuesday's blog, Hillis aggravated his quad strain Sunday, and he had not practiced through Thursday. That, however, will not keep him from Sunday's game, according to Mangini. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Mangini expects Hillis to be available Sunday but also notes that newly acquired running back Mike Bell is "a fit for the plays we have for Peyton." Sounds like the Browns wanted Hillis-specific insurance. There's no doubting Hillis' toughness, but there might be some doubt as to whether he can be Hillis-like in the presence of this injury. And the Browns have the Pittsburgh Steelers on the docket this week. This could be a risky week for Hillis fantasy owners.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers: It seemed as if Mathews was out of the woods with regards to his ankle injury, but that does not appear to be the case. Lingering soreness in the ankle has kept Mathews from practicing fully, and this week Mathews was not in practice at all Wednesday. Coach Norv Turner has hinted over the past two weeks that the goal is to have Mathews functioning like a feature back but not at the risk of setting him back. If Mathews is not able to fully practice during the week, he is not likely to be placed in that role. Mathews' ability to play Sunday does not appear to be in jeopardy, but he could very well be sharing the job with Mike Tolbert. Fantasy owners just love hearing that.

Wide Receivers:

Calvin Johnson
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCalvin Johnson's arm and shoulder issues could keep him out this week against the Giants.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Although we have not heard specifics about Johnson's injury, we have heard enough to be concerned about his status this week. Johnson was present at practice Wednesday and Thursday but he has not been able to make much use of his right arm. On Wednesday, he ran routes but caught no passes. Johnson told reporters that his range of motion was not quite all the way back. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Johnson remained limited in Thursday's practice, still heavily favoring his right arm and catching passes primarily with his left. If Johnson is still struggling with overhead motion, it's unlikely that he is back to form by Sunday. We should learn more after practice Friday, but with the Lions heading for a bye next week, it would not be surprising if Johnson rests Sunday if there is no further progress.



Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones, Houston Texans: Johnson appeared to emerge from Week 5 relatively unscathed and will no doubt forge ahead into Week 6. Johnson's ankle is not perfect but that didn't stop him from being the top receiver for the Texans last week. Jones and his calf are another matter. Jones, who did not practice last week, was not back in practice Wednesday and is being called day-to-day at this point.

Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis Colts: Collie, despite being in a protective boot most of last week, did end up playing Sunday and appeared to run well. Collie was back in the boot to start the week, however, and did not practice Wednesday, which reminds us that he is not fully recovered. Based on his routine last week, there is no reason to worry just yet about Collie's Sunday availability. Garcon did not practice Wednesday either, but there were no reports of a setback after his return to the field Sunday. Gonzalez, who has missed multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain, did limited work Wednesday and could be on track for a return this week.

The lineup for the Colts' receivers should also become clearer after Friday practices.

Quick Hits


In Indianapolis, there are questions at running back as well as receiver. Joseph Addai, who suffered an injury to his neck and shoulder area last week, participated in limited practice Wednesday and Thursday. It appears that he will be available this week. Teammate Donald Brown is back in practice after a hamstring injury also, but he is still limited.

LeSean McCoy
Hunter Martin/Getty ImagesLeSean McCoy rushed for 92 yards last Sunday despite dealing with a rib injury that nearly kept him out.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday, but expect him to be in the action this week. After all, if he could play as well as he did just one week after cracking a rib, there's no reason to think he'll be hampered this week. Keep in mind that former Browns running back Jerome Harrison, recently acquired by the team for Mike Bell, is around to back up McCoy as needed.

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas has yet to return to practice, thus putting his status for this week in doubt again. While he has not been ruled out, it's worth noting that the Saints added former Seahawks running back Julius Jones to their roster. Coach Sean Payton assured reporters that the move was just for "depth" and not a reaction to the play of Chris Ivory or Ladell Betts. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush is still sidelined with a broken fibula and has yet to run outdoors. This weekend marks the four-week mark since Bush's injury (he originally projected himself to be back in four weeks), and he is hoping to return in the next week or two. We'll see how he advances in terms of activity, but the original six-week projection still appears likely.

Oakland Raiders quarterback Bruce Gradkowski does not look like he will have recovered enough from his shoulder injury to take the field Sunday. He did not practice Wednesday, and Jason Campbell is taking the first-team reps. Running back Darren McFadden is still not fully recovered for this week's contest after sitting out Week 5. He did return to the practice field Wednesday, but Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports coach Tom Cable says Michael Bush will remain the starter this week with McFadden's hamstring not yet 100 percent.



Lions running back Jahvid Best did not practice Wednesday but was back Thursday. The day off may have been a proactive rest day, as there has been no word of any setback. While Best is likely still dealing with some level of discomfort, he certainly has been pressing forward and playing each week. His performance in Week 5, while not outstanding, was certainly improved from the prior week so the hope is that he will continue to trend upward.



Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno did not practice Wednesday but got back on the field Thursday. It's too early to determine his Sunday status, but moderate practice is quite different from a full game.

See you at Friday's 3 p.m. injury chat and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 6 in the Saturday morning blog!

Week 14 was not kind to running backs in terms of injuries. If you were lucky enough to survive this round in your fantasy playoffs, you might find yourself in need of a replacement for the next one in Week 15.

As always, practice reports throughout the week will provide better hints as to players' statuses for Sunday, but here are the early reports following Week 14:

Peyton Hillis
AP Photo/David ZalubowskiThe Broncos' Peyton Hillis is done for the season.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Broncos: At the start of the season, most fantasy owners didn't even know who Peyton Hillis was, and it's a virtual certainty that he was not on any fantasy roster. But by Week 14, after stepping up for a team that had been decimated by injuries at the running back position, Hillis was owned in more than 80 percent of ESPN.com fantasy leagues.

Sadly, there's no reason to own him any longer, outside of keeper leagues. ESPN analyst Chris Mortensen reported Monday that Hillis is done for the remainder of the season because of a hamstring injury. On Sunday, Hillis was stepped on after a catch and ended up in an awkward splitlike hyperextended position on his right leg, resulting in the injury. Hillis expressed optimism after the game, but tests proved otherwise, and he'll be placed on injured reserve in the next day or two.

With Hillis out, the Broncos could turn to Selvin Young (nearing recovery from a groin injury), Tatum Bell (who stepped in Sunday after Hillis was injured) or P.J. Pope, who recently missed time because of a rib injury. Stay tuned for practice reports late in the week to see how the Denver lineup is shaking out.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Two weeks ago, the Giants were concerned enough about the health of Jacobs' knee that they played it safe and sat him out in Week 12. And last year, Jacobs sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and missed several weeks.

Well, on Sunday, Jacobs gave the Giants another scare when he appeared to injure his left knee during the third quarter. Although he did not return to the game, Jacobs did not appear overly concerned about this latest setback, telling the New York Daily News that he does this "almost every game, so I knew what it was." Jacobs added, "I could've [come back in], but why? We couldn't get anything going." Interestingly, this is not the knee that Jacobs injured last year (and then reportedly reinjured this year), yet his comments would suggest this knee has not been entirely ailment-free, either. With Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw available, there was no reason to force an impaired Jacobs back into the lineup and risk more serious injury. Despite Jacobs' comments, it remains to be seen whether he will be well enough to play in Week 15. Be sure to have an insurance option ready, just in case.

Other noteworthy injuries:

Frank Gore
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesFrank Gore wants to play in Week 15, but will his body allow him to?

&#8226 Even after their victory over the Jets in San Francisco on Sunday, the 49ers were not all smiles after the game. Running back Frank Gore was forced out of the game early because of an ankle injury, and Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that Gore was moving around quite slowly in the locker room afterward. The injury is being called an ankle sprain/contusion, and early X-rays were reportedly negative, but his status for Week 15 remains unclear. According to Maiocco, Gore really wants to play Sunday when the team travels to his hometown of Miami, but whether he is able to play is unknown at this point.

&#8226 Vikings quarterback Gus Frerotte left Sunday's game because of an apparent lower back injury. Frerotte could be seen receiving some treatment on the sideline but eventually was carted off to the locker room and did not return to the game. Coach Brad Childress did not comment on Frerotte's potential availability for Week 15, but the quarterback is expected to undergo additional tests Monday. Tarvaris Jackson came in when Frerotte went out and likely would start Sunday in his place if necessary.

&#8226 Redskins running back Clinton Portis had a laundry list of injuries headed into a tough Sunday night matchup with the Ravens, and he certainly didn't seem to feel any better as the game went on. Portis struggled in the first half, then sat out the majority of the second half. Although no additional injury for Portis has been reported, it seemed logical, given his (and his team's) struggles to move the ball on the ground and the team's inability to keep him off the field and out of harm's way.

&#8226 The Ravens actually had Willis McGahee in the game at running back for a while Sunday night, but that ended when McGahee suffered a stinger on his right side in the fourth quarter. Ray Rice was in and out of the game with his own ailments, and when the Ravens ran, the bulk of the work went to Le'Ron McClain. McClain likely will continue to get the bulk of the work for the remainder of your fantasy season, but check back for updates on McGahee's and Rice's statuses later in the week.

Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. New Orleans heads to Chicago on Thursday, so be sure to set your lineup in advance. Stop by the injury chats (11 a.m. ET Tuesday and Friday) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!

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