Stephania Bell: Philadelphia Eagles
Chicago Bears-Detroit Lions
Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears, WR, ankle (P): Marshall has been dealing with an ankle injury for several weeks now and it hasn't kept him from playing. The Bears might have their share of challenges, but being without Marshall won't be one of them this week. After participating in limited practices earlier this week, he comes in listed as probable and will play.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions, RB, ankle, (Q): The only real consistency when it comes to talking about Bush's ankle is that it has caused him to appear on the injury report since Week 5. Although he returned to play in two games since suffering the original injury, he has struggled in those outings, especially late.
A desire to return to play at an improved level might be the reason his absence has been more protracted since he last aggravated the ankle in Week 10. After limited practice sessions throughout the week, the expectation is that Bush will return to the field, but until he can get through an entire game without a setback, he remains a risky play.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, WR, ankle, (P): Johnson also had an ankle injury that hampered his performance in the early stages of the season until he gave it the necessary recovery time. He returned with a bang in Week 10, and while his numbers haven't been consistent since then, there are more factors in play than just his health. Listed at probable, Johnson is expected to play.
Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles, WR, knee, (P): Matthews was on the injury report last week with the knee issue and played through it, remaining productive in terms of receptions and yardage despite not seeing the end zone for the first time in a month. After practicing fully each day in this short week, Matthews, at probable, is expected to play.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, QB, back, (P): It’s almost hard to remember the images of the stiff and sore Romo after he suffered two transverse process fractures in his back, which was just over a month ago. Since that time he has played some very solid football, made that much more impressive knowing his bones were still healing. In fact, the fractures still are in the process of healing, but the pain diminishes with each passing week. If Romo could be effective just two weeks after the injury, he should theoretically only improve in that regard. And he has, performing at a top level in the two outings since his return from injury. He maintains his usual routine of taking one day off to rest, then returns to practice. Listed as probable, Romo is fully expected to play.
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys, WR, finger, (P): Williams has been one of Romo’s key targets, making some amazing receptions that call to mind the talents of his teammate, Dez Bryant. The question this week is whether Williams’ ability to make those types of catches will be hindered at all by the broken fingertip he suffered last week. The good news is that the small fracture of his left index finger was not an injury that required surgery, and he was able to practice both Tuesday (limited) and Wednesday (full). Don’t expect Williams to let the finger be an excuse of any type, even if it’s uncomfortable. He will be on the field Thursday.
Seattle Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks, RB, back, (P): Lynch’s back has had him on the injury report intermittently throughout the season. Last week, he was listed as questionable after a flare-up in the previous week's game but still managed to play. There is little doubt that Lynch will take the field in this critical divisional matchup. The larger question is whether the back will be a factor as he faces a tough run defense in San Francisco. Not that Lynch will be vocal about it; he'll show up for work as he always does, and, if history repeats itself, he'll have success against the Niners.
Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, RB, knee, (P): Gore has had some struggles, including uncharacteristic fumbles in back-to-back weeks, but he is not one to miss time. He appears on the injury report again this week with a knee ailment, but he was a full participant in Tuesday and Wednesday practices after being limited Monday. At probable, he is fully expected to play.
Brandon Lloyd, San Francisco 49ers, WR, quadriceps, (P): Lloyd has played through the injury once and should do so again this week. More limiting for fantasy owners, however, are the few targets he sees. Expect him to play, but don't count on significant productivity.
Despite being active for Week 6 as an emergency quarterback, Vick was inactive for Week 7 after his hamstring proved a little more problematic than expected. Vick acknowledged he could still "feel it" if he tried to burst, and the concern about potential aggravation of the injury given his style of play led the Eagles to hold him out.
Foles started in his place Sunday but exited early with a concussion. As is the case with all players who suffer concussions, Foles will be progressed through a staged protocol and there is no predictability as to when he will be cleared to return.
The question for the Eagles is whether Vick is indeed healthy enough to take the field this Sunday. It appears his return is imminent based on a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer stating that Vick will start Sunday when his team faces the Giants. ESPN.com's Phil Sheridan reported that Vick took the first-team reps in Tuesday’s practice. Perhaps this recent injury will translate to fewer designed run plays, but even if Vick is not yet 100 percent, he will run.
The hope is that given the time off and treatment, Vick has improved to the point where he is at a lower risk for re-injury than he was a week ago. Because time is a hamstring's best friend when it comes to recovery, the decision to hold Vick out last week will have helped. Unfortunately, we won’t know whether the two weeks off was sufficient until we see whether Vick can last the entire game Sunday.
Last week, Vick participated in practice daily, netting a full practice on what was one of the lightest workdays, but he was still out there on the field and not limited to strictly rehab work. Late in the week, Vick sounded positive about his readiness for Week 7, and if he were to ramp up his activity this week without incident, it would seem he should be ready to go by the time Sunday rolls around. But maybe ramping up is the problem. Vick acknowledged to reporters Tuesday that when he tries to "burst," he can still feel it in his leg. That signals a warning that his hamstring may not be ready for the type of demand Vick would likely place on it in a game situation. "I think another week of rehab can put me in position where I start gaining some confidence in it and doing things that I normally do," he added.
Coach Chip Kelly has not tipped his hand, saying only when speaking to reporters Monday that health would play a factor in deciding who starts under center this week. Kelly reiterated what we all know about the role Vick's running ability factors into his particular quarterback style. "Mike's legs are a big, important part of his game," Kelly said. "That's part of the decision in terms of putting the whole thing together, in terms of where he is and what he can do and what's his effectiveness."
On Tuesday, it was Foles taking first-team reps at practice. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur indicated that once both quarterbacks are considered healthy, Kelly will address the issue of who is going to start. "At this point," Schurmur said, "we'll go with Nick, and when Mike's healthy we'll have that discussion."
All hamstring injuries can be tricky in terms of identifying when the risk of reinjury is low enough to justify a return to play, setting up the scenario where the Eagles could make the case -- at least for another week -- of resting Vick for health reasons, even if they would simply prefer the idea of Foles at quarterback.
While he doesn't run quite the way he did in his 20s, Vick is still nimble enough to represent a threat with his feet, and gives the Eagles the option of creating both running and passing plays for him. Vick injured his left hamstring on a designed run play in the second quarter as he was headed out of bounds -- he said he thought he misstepped as he was slowing down -- leaving Nick Foles to finish the game.
Now the question is whether Vick will miss games and, if so, how many, as a result of his strained hamstring. ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting Vick will likely be out for Week 6. Coach Chip Kelly was noncommittal, saying only that Vick had indeed undergone an MRI, that he is day-to-day and that they will "see how he goes" with his rehab.
It would not be surprising if Vick were to miss at least a week, given that he needs to be able to run -- at the very least to protect himself -- if he is to step on the field. Without knowing the details regarding the severity of the injury, it is impossible to project any meaningful timeline, but fantasy owners probably anticipated at least a one-week absence at some point in the season. If Vick were to miss only one week this year, it would actually be an improvement considering that he has missed at least three games in each of the past four seasons.
Perhaps most notable for fantasy owners is Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who entered Week 2 with a thigh contusion, but he is no longer on the injury report.
Let's take a look at the fantasy-relevant players who actually are on the injury report: a trio of tight ends.
Brent Celek, shoulder (probable): Celek was clearly uncomfortable after suffering a shoulder injury late in the Eagles' Week 2 contest, but he finished the game. More uncomfortable for fantasy owners might be the limited targets he has had (four, including just one in Week 2) this season. He remains the Eagles' top tight end, although the opposing Chiefs defense may not help his cause. Celek was listed as a full participant in practice throughout the week, and the probable tag indicates the Eagles expect him on the field Thursday night.
Kansas City Chiefs
Anthony Fasano, ankle (doubtful), and Travis Kelce, knee (questionable): The Chiefs' top two tight ends are on the injury report, and one of them is virtually assured of sitting out. Fasano was a nonparticipant in practice Tuesday and Wednesday (the Chiefs did not practice Monday) because of an ankle injury and is listed as doubtful. He is expected to miss Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Kelce suffered a bone bruise in his knee during the preseason and is still on the mend. Although a bruise doesn't sound serious, the concern with bruising of bone is the risk of progression to a more significant injury such as a stress fracture, hence the caution. Despite being active Week 1, the rookie saw no playing time, and he has yet to catch an NFL regular-season pass. Kelce did practice on a limited basis Tuesday and Wednesday, but that has been his activity level for the past couple of weeks. His status -- not to mention his level of contribution, if he does play -- is questionable.
If both Fasano and Kelce are out, the next two players at the position are Sean McGrath and Kevin Brock.
The Philadelphia Eagles host the Cincinnati Bengals in the final Thursday night game of the 2012 season. For fantasy footballers in the midst of their playoffs, there may be players on your roster who are unavailable Thursday night, but at least the announcements have come early.
The most notable fantasy football names with injury concerns belong to the Eagles.
OUT: LeSean McCoy, RB, concussion; Michael Vick, QB, concussion/illness; Brent Celek, TE, concussion: None of these names comes as a surprise. Vick and McCoy have missed multiple games due to their concussion injuries, and while both are making progress, neither was ready in this short week to make a return. Currently, both Vick and McCoy are engaging in limited practice. Both have returned to baseline levels on ImPACT. They need to resume contact-related work before passing the final phase of the concussion protocol developed by head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder. It is possible that both players could be available next week.
As for Celek, he suffered a concussion early in the Week 14 game. His ImPACT results are back to baseline, but he has not advanced enough in the Eagles' concussion recovery protocol to return to play. If all continues well, he could be back next week.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, groin, (P): The Eagles wide receiver suffered a groin strain late Sunday after posting his second highest point total on the season. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it didn't happen during the touchdown Maclin scored in the final moments but afterward, when teammate cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha celebrated by jumping on top of him. Fortunately for both of them, Maclin was not seriously injured and was able to participate in limited practice throughout the week. Even early in the week, coach Andy Reid expressed optimism Maclin would play. With him listed as probable, it appears he will.
It's finally here! The last week of the NFL regular season is upon us and there is chaos everywhere. Who's resting? Who's playing? Who's playing a series, a quarter, a half, the entire game and into overtime if need be? This might be the most challenging week for fantasy owners making key sit/start decisions. Multiple variables factor into which players will rest and which will roll Sunday, but fortunately there are a few clues in the Friday team injury reports to help guide us.
Good luck in Week 17, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, hand, (P): The probable tag tells you all you need to know: The Cowboys plan on having Romo under center. As far as the injury itself, on Thursday we noted the issues Romo could face if swelling persisted in his bruised hand. Obviously Romo has shown through the week of practice (in which he participated daily on a limited basis) that he can handle the duties. The game is too important to the Cowboys to have him out there at a significant disadvantage. As long as he doesn't aggravate the injury during the game, Romo should be able to function, just as he has through other ailments.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots, shoulder, (P): On Thursday we discussed the non-separated non-throwing shoulder of the Patriots' quarterback. After sitting out Wednesday's practice (non-injury-related, according to the Patriots), Brady, while limited, did enough in Thursday and Friday's practice to demonstrate he could play. With 16 other Patriots listed as questionable and Brady holding the only probable designation on the team, it's clear they expect to have him on the field Sunday. According to ESPNBoston.com, teammate Wes Welker hints at Brady playing the entire game. From an injury perspective at least, it does not appear the shoulder will be a factor.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings, concussion, (P): Ponder left last week's game early with a concussion but was cleared to return to practice by Wednesday. After putting in full practice sessions all week, Ponder is expected to start Sunday.
Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals, head, (Q): Kolb is still experiencing concussion-related symptoms when trying to practice. John Skelton will start again.
Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, ankle, (Q): Johnson's ankle is in better shape after another week of healing time. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but was back to full practice Friday. The Nashville Tennessean reported that Johnson said he was having trouble just walking on the ankle last week. Johnson indicated the ankle was much improved this week and that the rest early on helped prevent setbacks. It seems a healthier Johnson would want to end his season on a much brighter note. It remains to be seen how effective he can be against the Houston Texans, although there is admittedly little at stake, considering their playoff berth is secure.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans, knee, (P): There is no real injury concern with Foster here, other than the potential of suffering one if he plays too long in Week 17. It's hard to imagine the Texans, who have been so decimated by injuries at numerous key positions this year, risking Foster for an entire game. Foster can clearly score even in a short time but expectations for him putting in a full workload should be tempered.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants, foot, (P): Bradshaw is following the same pattern of limited work during the week and playing Sunday. Expect him to play again in this critical Sunday night matchup against the Cowboys.
Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys, hamstring, (Q): Despite the questionable tag, Jones is expected to start Sunday night in a game in which the Cowboys' season hangs on the brink. Jones was removed early from last Sunday's game, which was perhaps the best move for his tight hamstring. He was able to return to daily limited practice this week and the Cowboys are planning on him being the featured tailback. His hamstring will not be fully tested until the game but the conservative approach so far in managing his work over the past two weeks will hopefully pay off now.
Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions, ankle, (P): Smith still appeared to be struggling with his ankle to some degree in Week 16 but he was on the field. Smith practiced fully all week and at probable, is expected to play. The question is how much the Lions plan to use him. Joique Bell was signed by the Lions this week as insurance but coach Jim Schwartz has been vague as to whether he would actually play in Week 17.
Ryan Mathews, calf, (Q) and Mike Tolbert, hamstring, (P), San Diego Chargers: Earlier in the week it seemed Mathews was faring better with his injury concerns than Tolbert. That seems to have changed Friday. Mathews sat out Wednesday with a sore calf but participated to some degree Thursday. Post-practice soreness led the Chargers to give Mathews another day off Friday in the hope he'd be well enough to play Sunday. Even if active, his response to Thursday's light workout suggests he could struggle to get through an entire game. And this is nothing new. Mathews dealt with a calf injury in October but benefited from a bye week immediately afterward. His status will not likely be known until game time. If he plays, he will be sharing with Tolbert who was bothered this week by a sore hamstring. Tolbert did not practice until Friday but participated in a full workout his first day back. Barring a setback, listed as probable, Tolbert will play.
Roy Helu, Washington Redskins, toe/knee, (Q): Helu says he feels better this week after sitting out Week 16. But Evan Royster delivered such a solid performance in his absence, it's hard to know how the workload will be divided even if Helu plays. Tricky.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, ankle, (P): Jones-Drew has been remarkably durable this season and leads the league in rushing. So much for those who doubted him before the season began. He can help increase his chances of securing that title by playing Sunday, which he is fully expected to do. After getting some rest for his ankle Wednesday and Thursday, Jones-Drew turned in a full practice Friday.
Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns, elbow, (P): It's no secret to fantasy owners how much the injury bug has impacted Hillis this season. Now he's on the report because of his elbow but the Browns plan to have him on the field after he put in limited practices daily. Hillis faces a tough Steelers defense but undoubtedly would like to finish the season strong after what can otherwise only be called a disappointing year.
Chris "Beanie" Wells, Arizona Cardinals, knee, (Q): Again Wells is listed as questionable for the Cardinals but again he is expected to play. The Arizona Republic reports Wells is likely to have offseason surgery on his right knee, not entirely unexpected given the chronic irritation he has dealt with since injuring his knee in Week 6. Still, with one final outing awaiting him, Wells is expected to gut it out once more.
Shonn Greene, rib/shoulder and LaDainian Tomlinson, quadriceps, (P): Greene has been playing through the rib injury for weeks and will do so again. Tomlinson has a sore quad that kept him out of practice Wednesday but he returned to full practice Thursday and Friday. The probable tag for both indicates the Jets expect them to play.
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons, groin, (P): The groin injury has kept Turner on the injury report and appears to have hampered his effectiveness in the latter portion of the season. Nonetheless, the probable tag indicates the Falcons are planning on him being in Sunday's lineup, although how much time he'll see is questionable.
Marion Barber, Chicago bears, calf, (D): Barber is again listed as doubtful, making Kahlil Bell the feature back for the Bears again Sunday.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, shoulder, (P): Green suffered a third-degree shoulder separation in Week 15 but returned to finish the game. He was active in Week 16 and although his numbers weren't extraordinary, he did make an impressive catch while well-defended, suggesting the shoulder was not holding him back. Another week of recovery should only help. After limited practice Wednesday and Thursday, Green returned to a full practice Friday and, at probable, is expected to face the Ravens on Sunday.
Laurent Robinson, Dallas Cowboys, shoulder (P): Robinson practiced fully each day and will be in the lineup again Sunday night.
Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers, ankle, (P): Wallace was limited Wednesday but fully practiced Thursday and Friday. At probable, the Steelers plan on having him Sunday.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, Achilles, (P): Johnson rested Wednesday and Thursday but returned to limited practice Friday. At probable, he is expected to play Sunday at Green Bay.
Mario Manningham, knee and Hakeem Nicks, hamstring, New York Giants, (P): Manningham has struggled off and on with swelling in his knee but managed to practice every day this week. Nicks has been dealing with a hamstring issue but insisted early in the week it would not keep him down. After resting Wednesday and Thursday, Nicks returned to a limited workout Friday. Both players are now expected to be available in the game that will determine whether their season continues or ends abruptly.
Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins, knee, (P): Marshall played through the knee soreness in Week 16 just fine and is expected to do so again Sunday. Marshall practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday but was back in full practice Friday.
Vincent Jackson, San Diego Chargers, groin, (P): Jackson did not practice until Friday as he rested the sore groin that plagued him last week. He was available for a full workout Friday, however, and the Chargers obviously feel confident he will go against the Raiders this Sunday. It's worth noting that Jackson has typically played well despite injuries in the past but was clearly not up to par in Week 16. The layoff during the week no doubt helped move him along and with the team feeling more confident about his status this week, Jackson is presumably faring better.
Wes Welker, knee and Deion Branch, groin, New England Patriots, (Q): Both Welker and Branch were listed similarly last week and both played without limitations. While the receivers are being kept to limited work during the week, both are expected to be on the field again in Week 17. That is, of course, unless the Patriots decide to surprise us all and rest their starters. Welker told ESPNBoston.com that he expects to play all four quarters. Fantasy owners would be wise to check pregame inactives just in case.
Santonio Holmes, New York Jets, hip, (P): Holmes was an addition to the Thursday injury report after being limited in practice but coach Rex Ryan said they expected him to be ready by Saturday. The probable tag supports that and fantasy owners can put him in their lineups.
Jacoby Ford, Oakland Raiders, foot, (Q): Ford is looking to make his return after missing the last seven weeks because of a foot injury. He was able to practice on a limited basis all week but has yet to test his foot in a game situation. While he presents another option for Carson Palmer, it is unclear how much Ford would be utilized after missing so much time, and with Denarius Moore demonstrating last week that he is back to full strength.
Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens, knee, (D): Boldin underwent knee surgery last week and missed Week 16. Originally projected by the Ravens to miss the remainder of the regular season, it was a bit surprising that he was not officially ruled out in advance of this week's game. Perhaps that was due to the encouraging sight of Boldin back in practice Friday, albeit on a limited basis. The doubtful tag confirms though that Boldin is likely to be out again this week.
Tight endsJermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, knee, (P): Finley didn't practice early in the week but managed to make it back to limited workouts Thursday and Friday. At probable, he is expected to play but the Packers have already hinted at resting a number of their starters. It does not seem likely that Finley will play the entire game.
Dallas Clark, Indianapolis Colts, neck, (Q): Clark missed the last two games after suffering a stinger-type injury but was back in full practice for the first time this week. It would seem he has a chance to play, but check the pregame inactive list to be sure.
Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins, head, (P): Fasano missed Week 16 with a concussion but returned to full practice daily this week and is expected to play.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans, knee, (P): Daniels only practiced on a limited basis and although he is expected to play Sunday, that too may be on a limited basis. The Texans already have their playoff berth secure and may want to limit the risk exposure for their key starters.
This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured-reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins, knee: This one is a bit surprising since Bush made it seem like the injury was not a big deal. He never was able to practice this week, however, so with the Dolphins out of contention, resting him Sunday seems wise.
Greg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers, knee: Since spraining his MCL three weeks ago, it always seemed the Packers would keep him sidelined until the playoffs. Jennings has returned to running but will not see game action again until the postseason.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers, knee/ankle: Starks has struggled to get his ankle healthy, suffering multiple setbacks over the last month. The decision to hold him out in advance of the playoffs is no surprise.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints, (toe): As noted Thursday, Ingram suffered a setback to the toe in practice this week and it sounds as if it could be a problem for the playoffs. All fantasy owners need to know is that it will be a problem for this week, as in, he won't play.
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans Saints, (hamstring): Moore suffered an in-game setback with his strained hamstring in Week 16 and was forced to leave the game early. After not practicing at all this week, Moore's status for this Sunday is not surprising, especially with the playoffs looming for the Saints.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders, (foot): McFadden isn't coming back after all, at least not during your fantasy season. He might not be available during the playoffs, either, but first the Raiders have to get there.
Jackie Battle, RB, Kansas City Chiefs, foot: Battle was in a walking boot mid-week and never really seemed as if he would be ready to play.
Jake Ballard, TE, New York Giants, knee: Ballard injured his PCL and, as expected, will miss the game again this week.
Delanie Walker, TE, San Francisco 49ers, jaw: Walker left Week 16's game holding his jaw after inadvertently getting kicked in the head, and a break was later confirmed.
Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now, Sundays on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET, and Fantasy Surround on ESPN.com starting at 10 a.m. ET Sunday for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!
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.
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 ...
QuarterbacksBrett 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 BacksDarren 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.
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.
• 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!
As a reminder, each Friday teams are required to report injury designations for all players appearing on the injury report in anticipation of player status for the upcoming weekend. It's always easier when you know in advance that a player is not going to play. To help you out with that, key fantasy players listed Friday as "Out" for this week's games appear as a group at the end of the blog. But as is often the case, some of the most notable fantasy players' availability remains undecided heading into game time. That said, we take a look here at what we know about injuries heading into Week 3.
Good luck in Week 3 everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles, (D):
When we initially discussed McNabb's injury, it certainly seemed as if McNabb would miss time. After sitting out Weeks 1 and 2, all indications are that McNabb will also miss Week 3. This makes good sense. There are certainly plenty of backup options in Philadelphia. The Eagles have a bye in Week 4. The goal is to have a healthy McNabb down the stretch. All of these are good reasons to have him rest one more week despite the fact that he's feeling better and making progress. While McNabb has not officially been ruled out, Kevin Kolb is expected to start this game and McNabb, if active, would likely only serve as an emergency backup.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks, (D):
See McNabb entry from Week 2. Seriously. Despite early proclamations from the Seahawks that Hasselbeck would be able to play Sunday without practicing, if he felt up to it, the later it became in the week, the less it looked like they would be willing to take that chance. It's not that Hasselbeck couldn't run the offense without practicing; that does not appear to be in question. Instead, it seems the Seahawks are thinking that Hasselbeck could use a week to allow the rib to heal and minimize the risk of any type of setback. Although his availability remains an option, the doubtful designation tells you which way the team is leaning.
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, (P):
Can AP run all day? That's what fantasy owners really want to know. The answer at this point appears to be yes. Peterson got everybody nervous when he appeared on the injury report this week because of his back. Peterson was quick to tell the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that this was "no big deal" and his probable designation indicates that barring some surprise on Sunday, he's ready to go.
Brian Westbrook, Philadelphia Eagles, (Q):
Don't say you weren't warned. Westbrook's pattern has often been to rest during the week and play on Sunday, which could be the plan again this week. The emphasis is on "could," however, since the landscape for Westbrook is slightly different in 2009. This year he's coming off of knee and ankle surgeries, and this latest sprain is to his surgical ankle, warranting more caution. There's also this new player on the field with the initials MV whose role is not fully defined. To top it off, the Eagles drafted a talented running back in LeSean McCoy, specifically to help offload Westbrook. Even if Westbrook suits up Sunday, and that is a big gametime decision "if," expect the new kids on the block to absorb significant playing time. If Westbrook sits, given that the Eagles get a bye in Week 4, he should be ready to roll in Week 5.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints, (P):
Teammate Mike Bell is out with the same injury that has been challenging Thomas since the preseason. Fortunately Bell timed his injury with the upswing in Thomas' health, so it appears they will switch roles this week. It's worth noting that Thomas is not quite 100 percent healthy although coach Sean Payton told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he is getting very close. Thomas will likely see more work than last week, but Lynell Hamilton may also see some touches and Reggie Bush should balance it out.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, (Q):
Moreno, like Pierre Thomas, has been working his way back from a sprained MCL suffered during the preseason. Moreno, however, has played each week and the Broncos have been steadily increasing his workload. It seemed that he might even progress off the injury report this week. But then came Friday. Moreno made a surprise appearance on the Friday report not because of his knee but because of a groin injury, probably sustained in Thursday's practice, according to the Denver Post. In fact, Moreno did not practice at all Friday, making his status for Sunday very questionable. This will likely be a gametime decision that depends on how Moreno feels during warm-ups. Without any additional information as to the severity of the injury and the Broncos having a late game Sunday, fantasy owners may want to plan accordingly.
Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns, (D):
Last week, Lewis made a surprising appearance on the Browns' injury report with a neck problem, but played in Week 2. This week, Lewis is dealing with a more disabling ailment, a hamstring injury that has kept him out of practice all week. The doubtful designation is certainly not encouraging and despite the fact he will be facing his former team, it does not appear Lewis will be able to go. Meanwhile, rookie James Davis, who sat out last week with a shoulder injury, has been a full participant in practice this week, is listed as probable and is expected to play.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, (P):
Jones-Drew is back on the injury report this week, a sight fantasy owners (who probably drafted him with one of their top three picks) dread. Here's the good news up front: He's listed as probable and is expected to play. While we haven't heard much in the way of specifics as far Jones-Drew's knee, the fact that he put in a full practice Friday is a strong indicator that he is ready to run Sunday.
Cadillac Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Q):
Reports out of Tampa indicate that Williams is dealing with some soreness in his left knee. Coach Raheem Morris tells the Tampa Tribune that the soreness is merely a result of playing on the artificial turf in Buffalo in Week 2 and that there are no major concerns. Certainly some players will complain of being more fatigued and sore after playing on an artificial surface, so this is not an unreasonable explanation. Morris has already indicated that Derrick Ward will start to face his former team, the New York Giants, on Sunday but also indicated Thursday that he expected Williams to play. It is always good to check the pregame inactives because this could come down to how Williams' knee feels in warm-ups, but either way, fantasy owners should prepare for him to see a decreased workload compared to Weeks 1 and 2.
Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins, (Q):
This scenario sounds like it could be more problematic for Portis fantasy owners over time. Portis, who did not practice all week and is listed as questionable, has bone spurs in his ankle according to coach Jim Zorn. Zorn did tell the Washington Times that he expects Portis to play Sunday, but his acknowledgment that Portis is dealing with spurs in both ankles hints at this being problematic all season. Spurs don't disappear on their own and while the pain can certainly fluctuate, their presence will not. It will be important for the Redskins to manage Portis' workload, both during practice and during games, and it may change from week to week depending on how he's feeling. Fantasy owners need to be aware that the role for Ladell Betts could be increasing.
Frank Gore, San Francisco, 49ers, (P):
There's not much to say here. Gore sustained a minor ankle sprain during his monster game in Week 2 and rested it appropriately this week. The probable designation backs up the notion that's been held all week that Gore would play Sunday. The surface in Minnesota may be a little hard on the ankles, so it will be worth noting how Gore emerges from Sunday's contest.
Marion Barber, Dallas Cowboys, (Q):
Coach Wade Phillips has indicated that Barber will be a game-time decision and since the Cowboys play Monday night, this is torturous for fantasy owners. ESPN NFC East blogger Matt Mosley makes it easier for you by reporting that a source close to the club indicates that they are leaning toward resting Barber this week. Consider this: Barber went down hard with a quadriceps strain and despite the fact he has been making every effort to prepare for Monday, he has still been relegated to limited work (far from full speed) in practice. With able counterparts in Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, it seems the sensible thing would be to rest Barber and avoid risking a bigger, more serious injury.
Wes Welker and Randy Moss, New England Patriots, (Q):
Welker's inactive status came as a surprise to everyone last week after his strong performance in the Week 1 Monday night game. Naturally, the Patriots have given no clue as to what Welker's knee ailment is, making it virtually impossible to assess his readiness to return in Week 3. Welker did participate in limited practice Thursday and was on the field with the team Friday during media availability, suggesting that he's preparing as if he will be on the field. Perhaps more concerning is teammate Randy Moss' appearance on the injury report just on Friday with a back ailment. Injuries late in the week should make you sit up and pay attention as they tend to present a greater threat to a player's status. The bottom line here for fantasy owners is you need backup insurance and you need to check pregame inactives. Thankfully, the Patriots play early this week, so there should be time to make adjustments.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles, (Q):
Of all the Eagles listed in this blog, Harvin seems the most likely to play Sunday, despite nursing a groin injury. Jackson, who sustained the injury in Week 1 and then aggravated it in Week 2, missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. The rest appears to have done him some good since he was back in full practice Friday making a case for being able to play Sunday. Expect Jackson to suit up this week, although he might not be at full speed. If Jackson can get through this game without a setback, he will then have two weeks to recover as the Eagles get a break in Week 4.
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs, (Q):
Bowe appeared on the injury report this week after being limited in practice and there appeared to be some question initially as to what was the exact nature of the injury. Lo and behold, it's the No. 1 receiver ailment, the hamstring strain, which has been slowing Bowe up this week and threatens his status for Sunday's game. As is usually the case, Bowe will test the hamstring in pregame warm-ups and that will determine whether he can go or not. Although coach Todd Haley did not sound overly concerned when talking about Bowe's injury on Thursday, we know from experience how finicky these hamstrings can be. Fantasy owners should plan on a backup in the event that Bowe is not able to go.
Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings, (Q):
Listed on the injury report as missing practice this week because of "illness," Harvin has apparently been dealing with severe migraines, according to a report on NFL.com. Migraines can be extremely disabling and if Harvin was unable to practice all week, there has to be some concern about his availability for Sunday. Given that there is no timetable for an individual's recovery from a migraine episode, it really comes down to checking Harvin's pregame status on Sunday. The good news is that if he's well enough to go, he won't be slowed by a soft tissue injury. The bigger issue here may be long-term for Harvin in an effort to limit how the migraines impact his ability to function.
Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos (Q):
Stokley is dealing with a thigh injury, as the Broncos are calling it, and missed practice Wednesday and Friday, while doing only limited work Thursday. The Denver Post is reporting that Stokley would have to improve significantly on Saturday in order to play Sunday against Oakland. With coach Josh McDaniels already acknowledging that he intends to rotate his receivers, it seems like this might be the week when Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal get a bump in activity.
Anquan Boldin, (P) and Steve Breaston, (Q), Arizona Cardinals:
Boldin finally appears to be approaching full health as far as his hamstring goes and this is good news for the Cardinals. Boldin practiced fully all week and will be a target for Kurt Warner this Sunday night. Breaston is still facing some challenges with his sprained PCL and was limited in practice late in the week. He is listed as questionable but will likely be active. Given that the game is Sunday night and the Cardinals may limit his role, fantasy owners will want to consider their options for Breaston.
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans, (Q):
The Texans are probably feeling a little gun-shy with regard to Walter's status after early optimism last week was followed by a discouraging setback. This week, coach Gary Kubiak was guarded in Walter's prognosis each day, appearing grateful for every practice Walter got through without a setback. To that end, Walter did only limited work all week, not fully stressing the recovering hamstring. By Friday, the team seemed more encouraged, with Kubiak telling the Texans' official Web site that Walter "should be ready to go" Sunday. Fantasy owners know by now that pregame warm-ups are still critical when it comes to evaluating how a player's hamstring feels. Be sure to check early inactives and bear in mind that Walter may not yet be at full strength.
Domenik Hixon, (Q) and Mario Manningham (P), New York Giants:
The Giants are certainly dealing with their share of injuries on both sides of the ball, but especially at the wide receiver position. Hakeem Nicks is still out allowing his foot sprain to heal. Hixon sprained his knee last week but was petitioning to get back in the game, making the injury seem not too serious. Nonetheless, Hixon did not practice all week, making his availability for Sunday look far less certain. Meanwhile, Manningham emerged from the Week 2 contest with plenty of fantasy points and a sore shoulder to go with it. The good news is that Manningham was back in full practice Friday, is listed as probable and is expected to play.
Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Q):
After being listed as doubtful and ultimately sitting out in Week 2, Bryant has moved up to questionable for Week 3. Bryant is still dealing with some soreness in his post-surgical knee and after not practicing on Wednesday, he did limited work Thursday and Friday. Bryant's status will come down to how he feels before the game, but even if he does play, don't expect full-time contribution this week.
Out: This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for the upcoming game.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers:
A sprained ankle is sidelining Tomlinson again this week, but Tomlinson's rationale for not being in the game is reasonable. Tomlinson is so eager to prove that he is not on the decline that he does not want to be on the field before he's convinced that his ankle has fully recovered. LT played frequently last year at less than 100 percent and he heard the whispers and grumblings. With Darren Sproles running so effectively, Tomlinson is not pressing his return in the hopes that when he does return, his performance across the remainder of the season will compensate for his early absence.
Mike Bell, RB, New Orleans Saints:
It's one thing to have consistency at the position, but matching injuries is taking it to an extreme. That's just what Bell did, though, when he suffered an MCL sprain in Week 2, the same injury that teammate Pierre Thomas has been working his way back from since August. Although it sounded initially as if Bell's injury was not serious, the wise decision for a running back is to rest the knee and allow it to heal. The Saints are wise and Bell rests in Week 3.
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans Saints:
Moore has recovered nicely from offseason shoulder surgery, but it's a hamstring that is keeping him on the sideline. We have seen how delicate hamstrings are for wide receivers. The position demands both power and flexibility. Moore is out while working to regain that balance and get healthy.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis Colts:
The timetable for his return remains uncertain, but it won't be anytime in September. By now, Gonzalez owners should have made alternate plans.
Chaz Schilens, WR, Oakland Raiders:
Schilens is still recovering from foot surgery and remains out in Week 3. His activity should start to increase in the near future, so keep an eye on him.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers:
DeShawn Wynn again backs up Ryan Grant as Jackson continues to nurse a bad ankle.
Danny Ware, RB New York Giants:
He is still recovering from a dislocated elbow. This will be a few weeks.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants:
Nicks is still on the mend from his foot injury and will likely be absent a while longer.
See you at the injury chats (11 a.m.-noon ET on Tuesday, 11 a.m.-noon on Friday and 10-10:30 a.m. Sunday). Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now" on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. ET to kickoff for last-minute inactives, rankings and more!
Last week I outlined the definition of each injury designation which is what teams are required to report when anticipating player status for the upcoming weekend. It's easy when you know a guy is out and you won't have him available. But what about the question marks? To help fantasy owners make the tougher decisions, we delve into those players and what we know about their activity during the week.
At the end of the blog, key fantasy players listed Friday as "Out" for this week's games appear as a group. Good luck in Week 2 everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles, (D):
There has been a lot of discussion about McNabb's injury in this column and around the airwaves this week. All along I have thought it highly unlikely that he would play and nothing has happened to change that opinion. Yesterday coach Andy Reid labeled McNabb doubtful despite the fact that he's made some progress in his healing. The reason McNabb has made progress is due, at least in part, to the fact that the only thing he's done at practice is watch. Remember, it's not just toughing out the pain, it's playing effectively and avoiding a setback. Indications are that Kevin Kolb will start and with recently signed Jeff Garcia also available, it seems all but certain that McNabb will continue to watch this week.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs, (Q):
Cassel remained limited in practice throughout the week and remains a gametime decision for Sunday. That is the first line from the Cassel entry in my blog last Saturday, and it is equally valid as the first line this week. But it also proves the point that the designation (Q, gametime decision) does not tell the whole story. Last week, Cassel was clearly still hampered in his mobility and was visibly uncomfortable, making him an unlikely start, particularly against a stalwart Ravens defense. Oh what a difference a week makes! Cassel appears to be feeling better, is running and moving around the field more nimbly, and despite still being limited in practice, is doing more this week than last. This week the questionable designation has a different feel to it as it seems far more likely that Cassel could go. Coach Todd Haley still wants to see how Cassel looks in pregame warmups, but assuming there are no surprise setbacks, it appears he just may get his first regular season start for the Chiefs.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, (P):
Plan on seeing Romo under center Sunday night when the Cowboys host the Giants. His sprained ankle didn't cause him to miss a snap during last week's game and he didn't miss a beat during practice this week.
Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos, (P):
While it might not have been the prettiest game, Orton did start and play through it with no reports of a setback. He's been fully practicing all week, and his finger has had additional healing time. Expect him to start.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints, (Q):
Fantasy owners who paid a good price for Thomas are wondering when the payoffs begin. Not this week I'm afraid. While there is still a reasonable chance that Thomas plays, it does not appear that he is fully recovered and the team may yet hold him out another week. Thomas did practice with the team this week and he clearly wants to get back out there on the field, but -- and this is a significant "but" -- after putting in a full practice Wednesday, Thomas was limited Thursday and Friday, suggesting that his knee is perhaps not ready for prime time. Even if Thomas does suit up, the Saints face a tough Philadelphia Eagles defense. Expect Mike Bell to see more action again.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, (P):
It may seem puzzling that Stewart was not on the report last week, yet is this week. Did he suffer a setback? No, none that we're aware of, but he did see limited practice reps this week, which requires that he then be listed on the injury report. In fact, Stewart did not practice Wednesday and then had limited practice Thursday followed by full practice Friday. This may be a trend to have Stewart rest post-game and then gradually ramp up his activity for the next game in order to manage his sore Achilles. It makes good sense and allows him to be ready to go Sunday. Last week he saw only slightly fewer touches than teammate DeAngelo Williams, and it seems as if the Panthers could go with similar splits this week.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, (P):
Moreno, like Thomas, has been working his way back from a sprained MCL suffered during the preseason. The difference is that Moreno was healthy enough to play in Week 1 and got a fair amount of work, given his abbreviated practice time. This week he has been fully practicing with the team, is expected to play and may see even a bigger role.
Jamal Lewis, Cleveland Browns, (P):
Lewis made a somewhat surprising appearance on the Browns' injury report this week with a neck problem, surprising in that there was no mention of injury after the Week 1 games. Lewis was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but was a full participant Friday. That, along with the probable designation, suggests that this is nothing to worry about and that he is expected to play. Meanwhile his teammate, rookie James Davis, left last week's game with a shoulder injury, has been limited in practice all week and is listed as questionable.
Steve Breaston, Arizona Cardinals, (Q):
Last week was a valuable lesson in late pregame scratches, as in they do happen, despite a player being listed as probable. Breaston suffered a sprained PCL and a bone bruise in mid-August but had been a full participant in practice leading up to Week 1, making it seem virtually certain to everyone, including his coaches, that he would play. Apparently Breaston developed some swelling in the knee before Sunday's contest though and clearly could not perform. As a result Breaston rested and Anquan Boldin, surprisingly, started.
This would not be the first time that a PCL sprain has caused some ups and downs in the recovery of an athlete so Breaston is not out of the woods. In fact, this week he has been extremely limited in practice, and while the team hopes he can be available, as one can infer from the questionable designation, they are less confident. Even if he can play, it seems as if he will not play a major role this week and it could be a toss-up between him and teammates Boldin and Early Doucet (recovering from a rib injury) as to how many snaps each one sees. Not a clear-cut situation for fantasy owners.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals, (Q):
The paragraph on Breaston tells the story. Boldin, who played last week but was clearly not himself, has been able to do more in practice this week and seems to be further along in his healing process. Boldin has the same status as last week, but there seem to be more murmurings in advance of Sunday that he will indeed play, but how much time any of the receivers see is anyone's guess. None are exceptionally healthy.
Kevin Walter, Houston Texans, (Q):
Walter wisely sat out last week, but given his gametime decision status it seemed that he was really close to being healthy enough to play. In fact early this week, both Walter and coach Gary Kubiak were very confident in Walter's availability this weekend. Not so fast. Walter, who fully practiced Wednesday, was then limited Thursday and Friday, with the Texans again announcing that he would be a gametime decision. They will test his hamstring in pregame warmups. It sounds as if they're leaning towards him playing, but it also sounds like we should not expect him to be quite 100 percent healthy.
Antonio Bryant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (D):
Heads up fantasy owners; this is a significant downgrade from last week. Bryant, who injured a meniscus in the preseason which required arthroscopic surgery, had been recovering nicely and played in Week 1. He had to leave the game early though and has been dealing with swelling and soreness in the knee since. After being unable to practice late in the week, it does not appear that he will play this weekend. No reason to panic. These types of setback after surgery are not uncommon, particularly as a player ramps up to the highest level of "game" shape. Expect him to work his way back gradually, hopefully within the next one to two weeks.
TJ Houshmandzadeh, Seattle Seahawks, (P):
After a surprise appearance on the injury report Thursday because of back spasms that kept him out of practice, Houshmandzadeh was back at full practice Friday and is expected to play. Meanwhile teammate Deion Branch is still questionable with his balky hamstring, practicing only on a limited basis late in the week. He does not appear ready for competition just yet.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (P):
No worries here fantasy owners. Jennings jammed his wrist in last week's game and consequently took less reps in practice, making him a candidate for the injury report. He assures everyone he will play and that the wrist is a non-issue.
Desmond Clark, Chicago Bears, (D):
Clark suffered a rib injury and was clearly in pain when he left Sunday night's game. There has been some speculation that he could miss several weeks, so do not expect him out on the field this week.
Bo Scaife, Tennessee Titans, (D):
Scaife injured his knee in the Week 1 contest and hasn't been able to practice all week, making it highly unlikely that he will appear in Week 1. Rookie Jared Cook could get the start in his place. He's listed as questionable with an ankle injury that kept him out of Week 1, but he's improved to the point where he's been able to practice on a limited basis. It could be interesting if he plays as he was a featured receiving target during the preseason.
Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints, (P):
This is certainly not the first time that an ankle ailment has placed Shockey on the injury list. It does not sound as though this will keep him from playing his usual role in the Saints' offense this week.
Out: This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as "Out" for the upcoming game.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers:
A sprained ankle is sidelining Tomlinson this week, but it sounds as if this might be the only week. Tomlinson is eager to prove that he is not on the decline, but the team wants his services for the majority of the season, so resting him now makes sense.
Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers:
A sprained MCL will keep an explosive all coverage safety like Polamalu down for a few weeks, but not a season. Don't count on him for at least a month while the ligament heals.
Limas Sweed, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers:
It's bade enough to suffer an injury in any given week; somehow it feels worse when it's during practice. Sweed apparently injured his midfoot during practice this week. No word yet as to how long he'll be down, but his absence this week is guaranteed.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis Colts:
Earlier this week I detailed why it's so difficult to establish a timeframe on a complex injury like the one Gonzalez suffered in Week 1.
He will be out for a while, at least a month and perhaps longer.
Chaz Schilens, WR, Oakland Raiders:
Schilens is still recovering from foot surgery and was predicted to be out the first two weeks. It will be interesting to see how he progresses in the coming week.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers:
Last week he was doubtful and didn't play because of a sprained ankle. This week, after not practicing all week, it was clear he wouldn't play. DeShawn Wynn backs up Ryan Grant.
Danny Ware, RB New York Giants:
A dislocated elbow will likely sideline Ware for more than just one week. Stay tuned.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants:
Although the Giants are disappointed that the rookie suffered a foot injury that could sideline him for a few weeks, they are relived that it was not the dreaded Lisfranc injury which might have meant season-ending surgery. His projected timeline is two to four weeks.
See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, 11 a.m.-noon p.m, Friday 11 a.m. noon p.m. and Sunday pre-game (10 a.m.-10:30 a.m.). Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now on Sundays at ESPN.com from 11:30 a.m. EST to kickoff for last minute inactives, rankings and more!