Stephania Bell: Rashard Mendenhall

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

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

Already ruled out for Week 5

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

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

Big names off the injury report

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

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

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

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

Atlanta Falcons

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

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

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

Chicago Bears

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

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

New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram, RB, (toe) and Lance Moore, WR, (hand): No news is not good news here. Neither player has participated in practice this week after missing the team’s Monday night game. Toe injuries can be slow to heal and problematic for a player at any position, but especially so for a running back. If Ingram isn’t working by now, it’s hard to imagine him doing anything at a game level in three days. Moore won’t reveal any specifics about his hand injury, but by telling ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett that he needed to wait for the “hand to heal properly” or he would “be in trouble,” he hinted at a minimum of another week off. Hands are fairly integral to the job demands of a receiver so it makes sense, but at this point it’s hard to predict when he might return.
Ray RiceAP Photo/Patrick SemanskyAfter being knocked out of action in Week 2, Ray Rice appears on track to return.
With a few days of practices and other reports available, let's look at the NFL injury situations that are relevant in the fantasy football world.

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens (hip): Rice strained his left hip flexor two weeks ago, and the team held him out of the Week 3 game as a precaution, netting a start for Bernard Pierce. At the time, there was some discussion that Rice could miss multiple games with the injury, but coach John Harbaugh later said Rice had been very close to playing. It seems Harbaugh was being forthright, given that Rice has been in practice Wednesday and Thursday, albeit on a limited basis. It would make sense that the Ravens would control his work during the week with an eye toward ramping him up closer to Sunday. For his part, the Rutgers product said he expects to play against Buffalo.

As long as Rice does not suffer a setback before Sunday, it appears he has a good chance, although a decision may not be made before game time. Rice may be well enough to play yet not be at full strength, which could affect his power and endurance. There will be no way to tell just how well he can produce until he takes the field. This could translate to some shared work between Rice and Pierce. Given some of the Bills' vulnerability against the run, both players could benefit.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills (quadriceps): Speaking of the Bills, after an injury scare in Week 3, Spiller is doing his best to demonstrate through his practice efforts that he is ready to play Sunday. Spiller's injury -- originally labeled as affecting his knee then recategorized to his quad -- caused him to lose explosiveness and power in his leg, hence the reason he could not finish Sunday's game. A blow to the distal (furthest) portion of the quad could easily result in swelling, pain and inhibition of the muscle, making it difficult to generate strong muscle contraction, resulting in the feeling of a loss of power.

Spiller's leg must have responded well to early treatment for him to complete back-to-back days of full practice. He appears on track to play against Baltimore in Week 4, barring a setback. Teammate Fred Jackson has been seeing his share of work even with a healthy Spiller, and that pattern will likely continue this week.

Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans (shin): Johnson returned from a concussion in Week 2 to start in Week 3 but left that game early with a shin bruise. On Tuesday, the Texans indicated they hoped Johnson would progress enough to return in Week 4. As of Thursday, whether he can remains uncertain. Johnson did not practice Wednesday and returned to the field Thursday only for individual drills. Coach Gary Kubiak told reporters after practice that Johnson remains a game-time decision for Sunday. That's not particularly encouraging for the Texans, who will face a tough Seattle defense in what is one of the week's most intriguing matchups.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR (hamstring), and Rashard Mendenhall, RB (toe), Arizona Cardinals: Somebody is happy about Fitzgerald's recovering hamstring (besides his fantasy owners). ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss reports that Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis is excited about matching up against Fitzgerald this weekend. Revis, coming off an ACL reconstruction and undoubtedly improving weekly, will have a chance to test that knee against what should be a full-speed, full-go Fitzgerald. Heading into last week, Fitzgerald was just coming off the injury and it was unknown how he would hold up. Apparently he held up just fine, since he has practiced in full each day despite the rainy weather the Cardinals are enduring in Florida. (The team stayed on the East Coast during the week in advance of the game in Tampa.) Look for Fitzgerald to start Sunday.

Fitz's teammate Mendenhall was upgraded to full practice Thursday after a limited workout Wednesday. He is still being protected, to some degree, because of a toe injury. After playing last week, but in a lesser capacity (nine carries, one reception), Mendenhall is expected to play Sunday in an increased role, given the ramping up of his work in practice this week.

Roddy White (ankle) and Julio Jones (knee), WR, Atlanta Falcons: Both White and Jones continue to appear on the injury report, but there is no longer really any doubt as to whether they will play. The biggest question is when White will resume being a true wide receiver threat. Based on the practice reports, White appears to be following the same pattern as last week. He did not practice Wednesday, but returned for limited practice Thursday. The status quo pattern suggests there is little change from last week in terms of progress. Given that there is virtually no observation of White’s practice time, it's difficult to assess whether he is making any meaningful strides.

Meanwhile, Jones was limited both days, but he continues to play and be productive on Sundays.

Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions (knee): Bush sat out Week 3 despite his indications during the week that he was optimistic about playing. This week, he has far more reason to be optimistic, as he has been on the practice field Wednesday and Thursday. He has been a full participant both days and described his knee as "feeling good." Bush reiterated to reporters that his game status is the result of a collective decision among himself, the medical staff and the coaches, adding that everyone has to feel "comfortable" with his readiness to play. If things continue to go well through Friday's practice, everyone should start to feel more comfortable about his availability Sunday.

Post-Week 8 injury report

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
6:29
PM ET


Week 8 is in the books! The season is approaching the halfway mark, the point where some fantasy teams attempting to reach the playoffs must decide whether to fish or cut bait when it comes to players with injury concerns. Unfortunately, there are still a number of question marks out there with players whose return status is unclear.



[+] EnlargeNelson/Jennings
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesGreg Jennings may not be back for a while, but Jordy Nelson could return this week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings was impacted by Hurricane Sandy in an unusual way. Jennings was scheduled to undergo abdominal surgery in Philadelphia on Tuesday, but due to travel difficulties associated with the storm, surgery has been postponed. No word as of yet as to how long until Jennings' operation is rescheduled. While a delay of a few days is not likely to significantly impact his overall recovery, every week counts. It would not be a surprise if he doesn't return until December.



Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) has already been ruled out for Week 9, according to coach Mike Mularkey, but there is no definitive word on when to expect him back. (I still expect him to return this season, but whether it's in the next two or three weeks or more than a month away is unclear.).



San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown was an exciting prospect in the preseason, then a fractured ankle sent him to IR/designated for return. The question now is when he will return, as he has yet to practice and hasn't even begun running. Head coach Norv Turner acknowledged Monday, "I don't expect him back real soon." Brown was always projected to miss at least eight weeks and the Chargers indicated he was on track throughout his recovery process. Once he became eligible to join the team in practice, though, his absence became more noteworthy. It's not a huge surprise given the challenges of regaining functional strength and mobility in an ankle after a fracture, even if the bone has healed. Still, given the notion that Brown is still multiple weeks away from a return, fantasy owners should consider looking elsewhere for midseason help.



There are some other players whose status is worth tracking. Here's who we're keeping an eye on heading into Week 9:

Peyton Manning, QB Denver Broncos, (thumb): The Broncos have to be breathing a sigh of relief that Manning did not suffer a more serious injury when he hit his thumb on a helmet. Manning said afterward he was "lucky" that the impact was on the nail (as opposed to further down on the bone itself) and coach John Fox told reporters Monday that Manning's thumb was fine. Whew.



[+] EnlargeJonathan Dwyer
AP Photo/Don WrightJonathan Dwyer has two straight 100-yard rushing games, but now he's dealing with the injury bug.
Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles), Jonathan Dwyer (quad) and Isaac Redman (ankle), RBs, Pittsburgh Steelers: The three lead running backs for the Steelers are all on the injury report and there is some uncertainty around the status of each. Mendenhall strained his Achilles in Week 6 and has not practiced since. Although the indications are that the injury was not serious, the Steelers would prefer it not become serious, and Mendenhall is still early in his return from ACL surgery. Last week, head coach Mike Tomlin indicated Mendenhall was making progress and he will begin individual drills Wednesday. It would not be surprising if he is able to return this week, although much depends on how he responds to increased work.



Redman is still recovering from an ankle injury also sustained in Week 6. He did make it back to limited practice late last week and, if he gets through a week of practice, he should be available by Sunday. Dwyer got the start last Sunday with both Mendenhall and Redman sidelined, but he was reported to have a strained right quad after the game, leaving the question as to who will be available (and starting) this week. On Monday, Tomlin announced that Dwyer would not practice Wednesday but could be back in the mix Thursday. In other words, this situation will not likely shake out until late in the week.

DeMarco Murray (foot) and Felix Jones (knee), RBs, Dallas Cowboys: Murray has been out since suffering a foot sprain in Week 6 but it sounds as if he is making some progress. According to the Dallas Morning News, head coach Jason Garrett said, "It seems like he's moving around a little bit better." Garrett also cautioned that it is the type of injury that warrants caution and that Murray is day-to-day. Foot injuries are very tricky, even those that don't require surgery, as we have seen in the past (Exhibit A: Raiders running back Darren McFadden, who was unable to return after his midseason injury last year). Murray moving better is a far cry from hard running and making sharp cuts in practice. Consider me skeptical until we see evidence that he can do these things without limitation before declaring him ready to return. In the meantime, Jones entered the Week 8 game with a bone bruise in his knee and managed to escape without further injury. Jones would likely get the start again if Murray remains out.

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys (hip): Anyone watching the Cowboys this weekend probably saw the spectacular catch that Bryant made in the end zone late in the game, the one that was just fingertips shy of a touchdown. While many were watching the multiple replays of the catch, some may have noticed that Bryant seemed a bit shaken up on the play and even appeared to be limping as he left the field. He did return to finish the game but there were still questions about his hip. On Monday, coach Jason Garrett told reporters the Cowboys did not think the injury was "that severe." It appears Bryant should be fine to play in Week 9.

Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers (hamstring): Nelson was out in Week 8 because of a hamstring strain suffered in last Wednesday's practice. Nelson should get back to practice this week. How he responds should offer further clues about his availability for Sunday.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions (knee): Johnson is on the playing field weekly despite being a regular on the injury report, so it hardly merits a mention. Most of the time. This week, however, Johnson made some postgame comments suggesting his knee is more of a problem than he has let on. When referencing a dropped pass, Johnson told reporters, "It's tough to stick my foot in the ground with my knee hurting, but that's not [an] excuse." Johnson is not typically one to make excuses, nor is he one to complain about physical ailments, but his words suggest that the pain is literally impacting his performance. Will that alter his status heading into Week 9? Don't count on it. Coach Jim Schwartz said of Johnson Monday that he is "plowing through," suggesting that he will continue to do so until or unless it becomes physically impossible. Expect Johnson to get a big break in practice this week to help preserve him for Sunday.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans (hamstring): Tate was dealing with a toe injury recently, and now he's got a strained hamstring. As Texans head coach Gary Kubiak told reporters Monday, "It seems like it's been one thing after another." The Houston Chronicle reports that Tate maintained a regular rehab schedule during the Texans' bye week in the hopes of being ready for Monday practice, yet he still could not participate. The cumulative injuries have prompted Kubiak to suggest that Tate will miss some time to try to get his health right. No indication whether that time is the span of a few days or more than a week, but it hints at an absence for Week 9. Justin Forsett suddenly becomes more interesting.

[+] EnlargeTannehill
AP Photo/Seth WenigThe Dolphins cruised to a win in Week 8, even with Ryan Tannehill leaving with an injury.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins (knee): Tannehill suffered a bone bruise in his left knee along with a quadriceps contusion (deep bruise) early in Week 8 and Matt Moore came in to finish the game. According to ESPN news reports, an MRI did not reveal any more specific structural damage, but Tannehill's status for Sunday remains uncertain.

Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots, (ankle): Welker sprained his left ankle in the fourth quarter of the Patriots' London game against the St. Louis Rams and did not return. As reported by ESPN Boston, Welker said his foot got "stuck in the turf" and he remained walking the sidelines following the injury. There doesn't seem to be much concern about Welker's chances for Week 10, as he will have the benefit of a bye week to recover.



Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots (ankle): Hernandez, who did not travel with the team to London, should also benefit from the bye week. Although Hernandez has returned to play since injuring his ankle in Week 2, he was still experiencing some limitations with mobility and agility. Eliminating a long road trip combined with two weeks of relative rest and focused treatment should have Hernandez in better shape by Week 10.



After sustaining big injury losses to their vaunted defense in Week 6, the Ravens' mood was somber. That frown turned upside down when linebacker Terrell Suggs, on the physically unable to perform list to start the season following surgery to repair his right Achilles tendon, rejoined the team for practice this week. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports Suggs expects to play Sunday when the Ravens visit the Texans. The biggest question will be whether a visibly heftier Suggs is in adequate "game" shape to take the field. Most athletes returning from this type of injury say it takes them a full year to regain the speed and explosiveness in their surgically repaired leg. It doesn't mean Suggs can't contribute right away -- even if that comes largely in the form of morale boosting initially -- but it does mean he's unlikely to look like the 2011 defensive player of the year out of the gate.

Here's who else we're keeping an eye on in Week 7.

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeMathias Kiwanuka
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireFor a scrambling quarterback such as Aaron Rodgers, a leg injury is all the more concerning to fantasy owners.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (calf): Here's a name no fantasy owner wants to see on the list. A draft-day cornerstone for many teams, Rodgers was limited in practice Wednesday by a sore calf, apparently suffered on a running play in Week 6. The good news is Rodgers turned in a full practice Thursday, and it looks as if he fully plans on playing against the Rams this Sunday.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings (knee): Ponder has been working through knee discomfort associated with an inflamed bursa for the past couple of weeks. He continues to practice fully and should play again this Sunday.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (ankle): Peterson's lack of activity during practice might seem worrisome but it sounds as if he and the team are taking a deliberately cautious approach in light of the next two games coming so close together. Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities reports Peterson plans to play Sunday despite not practicing Wednesday or Thursday. Coach Leslie Frazier echoed that statement, describing the rest as precautionary. Still, according to Pelissero, Peterson indicated his ankle is "hurting consistently," not enough to keep him from playing but perhaps enough to keep him from being as explosive as he'd like. It looks as if Peterson will play, and his best chances of being effective come from resting his ankle in the interim.

Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers (Achilles): Mendenhall has been downplaying his Achilles injury ever since it happened in Week 6's Thursday night game, insisting he was removed largely for precautionary reasons, primarily due to his recent return from ACL reconstructive surgery. Still, with Mendenhall not yet practicing this week, it's enough to make fantasy owners nervous. Isaac Redman also sustained an injury (ankle) in Week 6, and he too has yet to practice. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Steelers think Mendenhall is closer to playing than Redman, but it would feel much more plausible if we were to see him get some practice reps. While that could happen Friday, it's also possible the Steelers will opt to give him as much rest as possible in advance of Sunday since that might be the best medicine for a sore Achilles. The Steelers do not play until Sunday night, so unless there is some better evidence of Mendenhall's readiness following Friday practice, fantasy owners will need to have a backup plan.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns (chest, rib): Richardson has maintained all along that he will be ready to play this weekend. So far he seems to be making good on that promise, participating in practice, although on a limited basis, both Wednesday and Thursday. Expect him to wear some protective padding, as is often the case following rib injuries, but it appears he will be on the field, barring a setback.

Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and Andre Brown (concussion), New York Giants: Uh-oh. When we see "foot" next to Bradshaw's name on the injury report, it starts dredging up memories of complications over the past two seasons. According to Kieran Darcy of ESPN New York, Bradshaw, who did not practice Wednesday and did only limited work Thursday, said this is not related to his prior stress fracture issues but that he had his foot stepped on in Week 6. Bradshaw also said he's "ready to go," suggesting his availability for Sunday is not in doubt. Meanwhile, Brown is on the mend from his concussion and practiced fully both days this week.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys (foot): Owner Jerry Jones already said Murray will miss this week's game in Carolina due to his foot sprain, although he is not yet listed as "out" on the injury report. The expectation is that Felix Jones will get the start. Until Murray returns to practice, there is little to update.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts (knee): Brown is still recovering from knee surgery and is not practicing yet. Vick Ballard is expected to start again.

Ben Tate, Houston Texans (toe): Tate continues to be limited by a sore toe, and his status for Sunday is uncertain.

Wide Receivers

[+] EnlargeNicks
Alan Maglaque/US PresswireHakeem Nicks has been frustrating to own this season, with three missed games and two subpar performances, but his Week 3 totals -- 199 yards and a touchdown -- are a reminder of his game-breaking ability.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (foot/knee): Nicks did something this week he hadn't done in a long time -- he put in back-to-back practices Wednesday and Thursday. Granted, he still is being limited in terms of his reps and he does not appear fully recovered from his ailments but this is a big status change for him. At the very least, it suggests his status will be less questionable heading into this week's contest.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (foot): Garcon has not practiced this week. After hearing last week that the plan was for him to take the time to let the foot heal before returning, it certainly looks as if he will be out again this Sunday.

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings still has not practiced this week. His focus has been on rehab and conditioning work, and last week coach Mike McCarthy said Jennings would not test his groin until late this week. We'll see what happens Friday but it's hard to feature Jennings returning in three days.

Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings (back, foot): After being forced to sit out in Week 6 because of weakness in his leg associated with a back injury, Simpson has made big improvements this week. He was a full participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and while it is too soon to dismiss the injury as being totally behind him, his chances of playing Sunday are looking good.

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), New England Patriots: Gronkowski continues to be limited in practice, which doesn't come as a big surprise. He has been playing through what is being termed a hip injury and has not been quite himself on the playing field. Hernandez seemed to get through his first game outing well and returned to limited practice Wednesday. He did not practice Thursday, however, which could be cause for concern or just some proactive rest on the part of the Patriots. Remember, Hernandez did not practice last Friday in advance of Sunday's game, either. That turned out just fine. Expect Gronkowski and Hernandez to both be active Sunday against the Jets.

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints (ankle): The last time we saw Graham, he was in a walking boot following an ankle injury in Week 5. Then the team had a bye week, and there were no updates to offer clues. It wasn't until Wednesday's practice that the first real evidence of how much the ankle is limiting Graham became apparent ... when he did not participate. On Thursday, Graham did make an appearance, practicing on a limited basis. The Saints sound as if they would like to have him available Sunday, even if he remains limited. "You always want to have your best players so we hope we are going to have him," Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The Saints have not offered specifics regarding Graham's ankle sprain (what type of sprain or what degree of severity) but it is worth noting that Graham did return to the Week 5 game after the injury. He appeared to be significantly limited for the remainder of the game but he did finish it out. In reviewing video of the injury, as Graham is tackled by Chargers defensive back Marcus Gilchrist, his foot is rotated outward relative to his lower leg. This is a common mechanism associated with a high ankle sprain but the team has not referred to it as such. While high ankle sprains are often associated with a prolonged recovery, it still comes down to how significant the actual tissue damage is. If there is instability and the injury is a high ankle sprain, caution is warranted so as not to lead to chronic degenerative changes in the joint. If the ankle is stable, the athlete can resume play more quickly. It will be worth monitoring how Graham's ankle responds to the Thursday work and whether he can repeat the effort Friday. If he can, it seems the Saints will lean toward having him available, even if his ankle has not fully recovered.

Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers (shoulder): Finley practiced on a limited basis both Wednesday and Thursday because of the same AC joint issue that bothered him last week. Given that he was active last week after not practicing early on, expect him to play again (and hopefully contribute) this week.

Dustin Keller, New York Jets (hamstring): Keller remains on the injury report this week, turning in limited practice Wednesday but bumping up to a full practice Thursday.

And on a final note ...

Six teams (Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego) are on bye this week, which means a lot of fantasy replacements are in order. These players will not appear on this week's official NFL injury reports.

Steelers-Titans injury report

October, 11, 2012
10/11/12
10:35
AM ET


This week's Thursday matchup pits the Tennessee Titans against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here is the status of key fantasy players involved in tonight's game:

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers (knee, P): Mendenhall is expected to start for the second time this season, just four days after his impressive debut following ACL reconstruction. Mendenhall put in a limited practice Tuesday (which is not surprising after Sunday's work), but he was a full participant Wednesday, a sign that he is ready to go Thursday night. Mendenhall should once again see plenty of opportunities, but it's important to remember he is still in recovery mode.



Javon Ringer, RB, Titans (knee, out): Ringer suffered an MCL injury in Week 5 and is expected to miss at least four weeks.

[+] EnlargeKenny Britt
AP Photo/Kevin TerrellKenny Britt has just 83 receiving yards this season.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans (ankle, P): Britt managed to get through his limited action last Sunday without suffering a setback. A big difference for Britt this week is that he was listed as a full participant in practice both Tuesday and Wednesday. According to The Tennessean, Britt feels as if he's turning a corner. "Today I felt the most confident I have in this whole year and this whole season, to tell you the truth," Britt said after Tuesday's practice.

There has never been any doubt about Britt's talent. The question has been whether he can get -- and stay -- healthy enough to demonstrate that talent effectively and consistently. Britt has only nine catches this season and most recently has been nursing an ankle sprain, which was superimposed on two knees recovering from offseason surgeries (including ACL reconstruction) and a history of multiple soft-tissue injuries (including hamstring and quadriceps strains). Look for Britt's activity to bump up in Thursday's game, assuming his body cooperates.

Jake Locker, QB, Titans (shoulder, out): Matt Hasselbeck will start again in Week 6 for the Titans, as Locker continues to recover from his second shoulder dislocation episode of the season.

Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers (calf); LaMarr Woodley, LB, Steelers (hamstring): Both players have been ruled out for Thursday night.

Colin McCarthy, LB, Titans (ankle): McCarthy has not practiced at all this week and is listed as questionable. McCarthy played Sunday for the first time since spraining his ankle in Week 1 but is clearly not at full health. Nonetheless, McCarthy still believes he is able to contribute, and his six tackles would seem to support that notion. It sounds as if the Titans hope to have him available, but his status might not be announced until just before game-time.



A fourth of the season has passed already and the injuries keep piling on. The New York Jets have been on the receiving end of two of the biggest blows, losing cornerback Darrelle Revis to a torn ACL in Week 3 and wide receiver Santonio Holmes this past Sunday to a Lisfranc injury. Holmes is expected to undergo surgery in the near future and faces a lengthy rehabilitation and recovery process. The good news for both Revis and Holmes is that they should make full recoveries.

Every other team is facing their own injury concerns as they try to field healthy squads from one Sunday to the next. Here's who else we're keeping an eye on in Week 5.

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, (right shoulder): It's Brady versus Manning this Sunday in New England. Brady will play.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeRashard Mendenhall
Sam Riche/MCT via Getty ImagesRashard Mendenhall will see his first game action since New Year's Day this week.
Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers, (knee): It's showtime! Mendenhall is set to make his season debut following reconstructive surgery to address a torn ACL in his right knee. Mendenhall has impressed recently in practice and the Steelers have been gradually increasing his activity and his contact. This week Mendenhall has been careful not to say he is definitively playing as the final determination has not been made but he sounds like he is ready to take it to the next level. "I have been taking steps accordingly so I feel confident in everything I have been able to do," said Mendenhall on the Steelers' official website. "It feels good." It will feel good to have Mendenhall as a fantasy option but he's unlikely to see the maximum workload in his first game action.

Ben Tate, Houston Texans, (toe): Tate's sprained toe has kept him out of practice so far this week, enough to raise some concern for his availability in Week 5. According to Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com, coach Gary Kubiak said Tate will also be held out Friday to give his toe additional rest. The team will allow him to test it Saturday but will also prepare Justin Forsett, "just in case." The Texans don't play until Monday night meaning fantasy owners should also make alternate plans, "just in case."

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears, (ankle): Forte has been held to limited practices this week but that's no surprise given the Monday game. He came through without a setback but is still in the process of recovering. He's expected to play this Sunday.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins, (hip): The good news is we're not talking about Bush's knee. Unfortunately he is still on the injury report but Bush bumped up his practice level Thursday to full after being limited Wednesday. This does not seem to present a serious threat to his status for Sunday.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles, (knee): After last week's game coach Andy Reid indicated McCoy had "tweaked" his knee. It certainly doesn't appear serious since he has practiced fully every day this week.

Evan Royster, Washington Redskins, (knee): Royster remains on the injury report as a limited participant with his strained patellar tendon. Alfred Morris is the unquestioned leader here, the actual question is where Royster will mix in with recently acquired Ryan Grant.

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs, (ankle): Hillis is still not practicing this week due to a sprained ankle and should not be counted on for Sunday.

Brandon Jacobs, San Francisco 49ers, (knee): Jacobs appears to be making good progress with his knee which he injured in the preseason. He participated in full practice Wednesday and looks as if he could be available this Sunday. It was Jacobs who told the 49ers official site," I want to get out there and really be a part of it." No word yet on whether he'll be given the green light.

Wide Receivers

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, (foot/knee): Nicks continues to struggle with soreness in his surgically repaired foot and persistent swelling in his knee. The Giants have already ruled him out for Week 5, and at this point are offering no forecast as to when he might return. While the team attributes his absence to both body parts, there hasn't been anything to suggest he has gone backwards with his foot. His absence in Week 3 was not completely out of the realm of reasonable after only three days' rest following his first significant post-surgical game action. The following week, it was the issues with his knee which didn't allow him to test himself in practice. If his foot is still sore, which is not unexpected in light of his recently ramped up activity, there is no way the team would allow him to push it when he also has a swollen knee. If Nicks is compromised because of his knee it raises the possibility of creating a far more serious problem with his still recovering foot and simply makes for a bad combination. The worry will go up next week if we hear that his knee is still failing to progress. For now there is not much definitive information to go on and so Nicks' status remains in a holding pattern. Looking ahead to this Sunday, Ramses Barden is still recovering from a concussion sustained in Week 4, meaning the Giants are again lean at wide receiver. Domenik Hixon will presumably get the start in place of Nicks.

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers, (groin): On Tuesday we talked about the possibility that Jennings would sit out to allow the groin to heal completely. It appears he is doing just that as he has already been ruled out for Week 5. For those who are wondering just how long Jennings can be expected to be sidelined, he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "We don't know what the timetable is." He's being truthful. As is the case with most soft tissue injuries, progression is made based on how the player feels. Typically that progression is advanced more slowly when a player has already suffered a setback like Jennings did in Week 4. Translation: Wait and see.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, (foot): It does finally appear as if Garcon has turned a corner with regards to his ailing foot. It's not a full 180 degree turnaround just yet, perhaps it's more like a soft curve which is trending in the right direction. Garcon managed to get through last week's game -- his first since Week 1 -- without a setback and this week he has resumed full practice with the team. He told the Washington Post, "It's going to take some time to feel back like my old self, like it was in training camp," but added, "It's getting better every day." That is exactly what fantasy owners want to hear.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans, (groin): Johnson was limited on Thursday but the Texans have been routinely resting him early in the week. Although they don't play until Monday night there seems to be little reason to doubt Johnson will suit up, so plan on using him as you normally would.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons, (hand): Jones appeared to be impaired by the laceration on his hand in Week 4, catching only one ball. Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Eight targets and one catch is not a good percentage. Julio's hand is not 100 percent." For his part, Jones told the Falcons' official website that last week's performance had nothing to do with the hand and more to do with the defensive coverage he was facing. With regards to this week Jones said simply, "I'm ready to go." The good news is that regardless of whether his hand affected him or not, with another week there has been more time for the cut to heal. Jones was a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday and is expected to be a full go this weekend.

Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans, (ankle): Britt did not play in Week 4 because of an ankle injury and it now looks as if he could miss another game. He has not practiced this week although he is doing some individual work on the side, including some running. According to the Tennessean, coach Mike Munchak said of Britt on Wednesday, "There's no doubt he's going to have to improve the next couple of days to help us on Sunday.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens, (ankle): Smith left last week's game appearing to favor his ankle but he's practiced fully every day this week and is on track to play.

Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints, (hamstring): Moore has been added to the Saints injury report with a hamstring strain and has not practiced so far this week. That makes his status iffy at best and the Saints don't play until Sunday night. It might be best to make an alternate plan.

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots, (hand): Edelman has still not practiced at all this week. Not encouraging for his chances for Sunday.

Tight Ends:

Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), New England Patriots: Gronkowski played last week despite the hip injury so he should play again this Sunday. He sat out Wednesday practice but was back on a limited basis Thursday. The more interesting tidbit is seeing the return of Aaron Hernandez to a limited practice on Thursday. Hernandez has been out since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2. This is very early in the return-to-activity phase so color me skeptical about any rumor he will return this Sunday. This is a great sign that he is making progress as expected but there is a long ways to go before returning to game action where there is easy risk of re-injury.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans, (shoulder): Cook remains limited in practice so far this week but it appears to be a proactive measure. After playing last Sunday, albeit in a limited role coming off his shoulder injury, the expectation is Cook will play again this week when the Titans visit the Vikings.

Dustin Keller, New York Jets, (hamstring): As if the Jets don't have enough injury issues, Keller continues to be sidelined with a hamstring strain. He has not practiced yet this week and with the Jets playing on Monday night, his uncertain status is risky.

And on a final note ...

Bills running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are both off the injury report this week.

Despite all their injury news at other positions, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is no longer on the injury report.

Week 3 Thursday injury update

September, 20, 2012
9/20/12
10:05
PM ET
Here is what we're looking at so far for Week 3:

Quarterbacks

Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars (glute): Gabbert was a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday. He appears on track to play Sunday.

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (ankle): Skelton missed Week 2 because of his ankle sprain, and Kevin Kolb started in his place. Will Kolb start again in Week 3? Early signs point to that being the case. While Skelton was "walking around," according to the Cardinals' official website, he did not practice Wednesday. Skelton did manage a limited practice Thursday, but it seems hardly enough to suggest he'll take over the reins again this weekend.

Running backs

[+] EnlargeRyan Mathews
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesAll signs point to Ryan Mathews returning to the Chargers' backfield this week.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (shoulder): Well, well, well. It looks like we are about to see the highly anticipated season debut of a certain Chargers running back. The timing does not come as a complete surprise, as it's consistent with the typical healing timeframe for this type of injury (fractured clavicle).

This is from my entry on Mathews in the 2012 Fantasy Football Draft Kit: "... Before a player is cleared to resume contact, there must be sufficient evidence of bony repair to alleviate concerns of reinjury. Every fall onto the shoulder, direct hit to the shoulder (especially if the player is hit from both sides simultaneously), even a stiff-arm move, will translate force through the collarbone area. For an athlete such as Mathews, who will incur contact through his clavicle (directly or indirectly) on virtually every play in which he carries the ball, the confidence that the bone will remain intact must be high before allowing him to compete. Normal bone healing takes approximately six weeks, which, given Mathews' injury date, would suggest he could be ready by Week 3."

Mathews was cleared for contact late last week but had very limited practice reps and was held out of competition for another week. That was smart. Now Mathews has had a chance to turn it up a notch in practice, and his collarbone has had another week of bone remodeling. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Mathews said, "I feel great; I feel healthy and strong." That's what fantasy owners like to hear.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams, (groin): On Tuesday, we noted that Jackson missed time in Sunday's game because of a groin injury and nothing else. While coach Jeff Fisher and Jackson made it seem as though the injury was not serious -- and an MRI seemed to confirm as much -- it remains to be seen whether Jackson will be ready to go this weekend. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but according to the Rams' official website, he "remains hopeful" he'll be ready by Sunday. This may well come down to a game-time decision.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (ankle): As we noted Tuesday, we said it would be a surprise to see Forte this week, and his non-participation in practice Wednesday or Thursday supports that idea. While it does seem that the injury was not as serious as initially expected, it's still looking like, barring a Friday surprise, Michael Bush will start for the Bears in Week 3.

Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (back): Lynch has been on the injury report since prior to Week 1 because of his back. So far he has managed to play in the first two games of the season. Since the Seahawks play Monday night, there is only one day of practice (Thursday) to report so far, and Lynch again appeared as a limited participant. No reason for major concern as of now.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (knee): Charles fell on his surgically reconstructed knee in Week 2 and sustained a knee bruise, according to the Kansas City Star. He was able to return to full practice Wednesday and followed it up again Thursday, boding well for him playing Sunday.

Rashard Mendenhall (knee) and Jonathan Dwyer (toe), Pittsburgh Steelers: Mendenhall has again been listed as a full participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday this week. Here's what I said last week after he practiced both days: "Pittsburgh does have an early bye week (Week 4), and it's possible we do not see Mendenhall before then." I still feel the same way. Each week, Mendenhall has been exposed to increasingly more work and increasingly more contact. Like others coming off ACL surgery, there is a process for evaluating how the player -- and his knee -- responds to each upgrade in activity. There is nothing official from the team to indicate he will wait another week, so it remains possible that he could be activated. If that does happen, he would not likely get a heavy workload in his first outing.

Meanwhile, Dwyer is dealing with a case of turf toe, which may have hindered his productivity somewhat in Week 2. He rested Wednesday but was back in full practice Thursday, hinting at him being active for Week 3.

Rashad Jennings, Jaguars, (knee): Again this week, Jennings has not practiced due to a knee injury. It will be the Maurice Jones-Drew show on the ground in Indianapolis when the Jaguars visit the Colts regardless.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins (concussion): Thomas missed last week's game due to a concussion but returned to full practice Wednesday. Barring a setback, he should be available this weekend, although he will serve as a backup to Reggie Bush.

Wide receivers

[+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezNo worries, Megatron owners. Calvin Johnson is expected to play Sunday.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (ankle): Last week it was his foot, this week it's his ankle. Johnson will probably appear on the injury report fairly regularly; hopefully, he will continue the pattern of resting early in the week and playing later. He did not practice Wednesday but was back in limited practice Thursday. If he continues the trend, expect him to play Sunday.

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings sat out last week's game because of a groin injury. It wasn't much of a surprise considering he had suffered the injury just four days prior, The expectation was that the extra time off would have him in good shape for Week 3. In fact, coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel late last week he would be surprised if Jennings did not play in Monday night's contest.



Then came Tuesday's practice. Jennings was on the field in full pads, and all seemed to be progressing well. It turns out Jennings didn't do much Tuesday other than run, and on Thursday he was unable to practice at all. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, McCarthy said Jennings was limited to rehab Thursday and was not progressing "as well as hoped." While there are still a few more days before game time, if Jennings is still this limited 11 days post-injury, how much improvement can realistically be expected by Monday? His status could come down to a game-time decision, but if he isn't able to practice at all Friday, fantasy owners should be concerned.

Jeremy Maclin (hip) and DeSean Jackson (hamstring), Philadelphia Eagles: These two were both on the Thursday injury report last week, and both ended up playing Sunday. The difference is that this week Maclin was forced out of the game because of his hip. Jackson finished the game -- and played well -- despite a hamstring strain late in the week. While Maclin was unable to practice Wednesday, he did return on a limited basis Thursday. Jackson practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and returned to full practice Thursday.

At this point, Jackson appears to be in better shape heading toward Sunday, presuming there are no setbacks beforehand. As far as Maclin's status is concerned, he does appear to be making progress and as long as he shows he can perform sufficiently before kickoff, there is still a reasonable chance he plays. Friday's practice should yield better clues for both receivers.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (foot): Even though he did not play Sunday, the rest might not have been enough for Garcon's foot. He participated in limited practice Wednesday and Thursday, but according to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, coach Mike Shanahan says Garcon's injury is "nagging him a little bit more than I was hoping it would." That's certainly not the most optimistic sounding assessment. If Garcon continues to experience this level of discomfort, it's hard to imagine him suiting up in Week 3.

Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (foot): Colston was listed on the injury report last week because of his foot, but still managed to play Sunday. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer says the foot injury is affecting Colston's speed. Perhaps the limited reps in practice this week will help him get back up to speed. He is expected to play Sunday.

Julio Jones (thigh) and Roddy White (knee), Atlanta Falcons: Jones and White both on the injury report? Not to worry. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that coach Mike Smith offered this explanation: "The reason a lot of those guys are limited in their participation is [because] we are on a short week." They did play Monday night, and it was, after all, a very long game. Both were restricted to limited work in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but from the sounds of things, both are expected to play Sunday.

Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots (thigh): Lloyd was limited both Wednesday and Thursday with what is being listed as a thigh injury. There has been nothing to suggest the injury is serious, though, including the fact that Lloyd did not completely miss a practice. The Patriots do not play until Sunday night, so hopefully there will be a better indication after Friday's session.

Tight ends

Antonio Gates, Chargers (ribs): Despite missing Sunday's game due to sore ribs, Gates did get right into practice this week, an encouraging sign for this week's status. Although he was limited Wednesday, his response to practice was positive enough to bump him up to a full workload Thursday. Thankfully, it does not appear he will be a game-time decision this week.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (abdomen): Miller has not practiced yet this week because of a rib cartilage injury. Any injury in the rib area can be exceptionally painful; Antonio Gates missed last week's game with a similar ailment. This could come down to a game-time decision.

Dustin Keller, New York Jets (hamstring): Keller missed last week's game because of his hamstring injury but appears to be making progress. He wasn't in practice Wednesday but did return to limited work Thursday. Now the test will be to see how the leg responds and whether he can repeat the effort Friday.

Week 2 Thursday injury update

September, 13, 2012
9/13/12
7:03
PM ET


Thursday practice reports are perhaps the most torturous. They can breed false hope -- athlete practices Thursday and looks like a lock to play only to have more soreness the next day and end up downgraded in Friday practice -- or insecurity -- injured athlete is still not doing much by Thursday, so there's no way he'll be ready by Sunday, right? Except the past three times you thought that, he not only showed up Sunday, he was also the top scorer.

Welcome to our world. While Thursdays bring us a little closer to game time, there are still many things that can change in the next 72 hours. Still, there are often hints as to which way a player's status is trending, and we want you to be tormented right along with us.

Here's what we're looking at so far in Week 2:

Running Backs

Arian Foster, Houston Texans, illness: Foster's knee (or the "area around [his] knee") turned out to be a nonissue in Week 1, and his prediction that he would play was accurate. He did not practice Wednesday due to an unspecified illness but was back in business Thursday. Expect Foster to be his usual self Sunday.

Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, shoulder: Mathews is approaching five weeks since his surgery to repair a fractured clavicle. Although he has done individual drills and worked out intensely, the protocol shifted Wednesday. Mathews did not practice with the team Wednesday, which, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, was a part of the team's plan, not a reflection of a step in the wrong direction.

"He worked pretty hard to the side," coach Norv Turner told the Union-Tribune. "He just didn't practice. We'll get him out there as soon as we can."



The protocol shifted again Thursday when Mathews turned up in practice in helmet and shoulder pads, the first time he has been in equipment since his injury. This is an encouraging sign, as clearance for contact represents the final barrier to Mathews' return.

Still, the team is not saying he is ready to suit up Sunday just yet. There is no doubt the Chargers will want to see how he responds to this level of practice and perhaps follow up with additional evaluation Friday. With any luck, there will be some indication as to his game status before the actual game time.

Rashard Mendenhall, knee, and Jonathan Dwyer, foot, Pittsburgh Steelers: Mendenhall has been listed as a full participant in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He continues to make strides in his recovery from ACL reconstruction, but it is not clear whether he is ready to face his first game action just yet. Pittsburgh does have an early bye week (Week 4), and it's possible we do not see Mendenhall before then.

Meanwhile, Dwyer showed up on Wednesday's report because of a sore foot. Not to panic. He was in full practice Thursday, and the expectation is that he will play. Coach Mike Tomlin complimented Dwyer's Week 1 performance in his Tuesday news conference, saying he thought Dwyer "represented himself well and will probably get an increased opportunity because of it."



Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers, ankle: Stewart did not play in Week 1 because of a sprained ankle even though he had resumed planting and cutting late in the week. Apparently he has improved on those fronts. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Stewart was moving more decisively this week, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. Knowing how rarely Stewart misses games, it's hard to imagine him missing Week 2 with his improving mobility.



Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars, knee: Despite coach Mike Mularkey's comment after Sunday's game that Jennings' knee injury did not appear serious, there has still been no indication as to the specifics of the injury. Mularkey told reporters Wednesday that an MRI showed no significant damage, which leaves us to wonder as to the nature of the problem. Last year, Jennings suffered a sprained knee that resulted in him landing on injured reserve. This latest injury was reportedly to the same knee, although there has been no indication as to whether the two injuries are related. The strongest indicator that he will not be ready by Sunday: Jennings has not practiced this week. Looks like the rock will go to Maurice Jones-Drew.



Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins, head: Thomas, who suffered a concussion in Sunday's game, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He is expected to miss Week 2.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills, knee: Jackson is out this week; this we already know. What remains less clear is how long he will be out. On Tuesday, I explained the reasoning for re-evaluation within seven to 10 days. Jackson essentially confirmed as much on the Bills' official website stating, "What we're going to go re-evaluate is my healing. That's what we're going to look at in seven to 10 days. We've got a good picture of it and know what we need to do to get it right."

His point was that the MRI gave a good picture of the injury, but how his knee responds initially is to be determined. He is optimistic that he can return on the shorter end of the timetable. "Hopefully sooner, but I'll definitely be back in four weeks," said Jackson. "Without a doubt." Love the attitude.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, foot: Johnson made everyone nervous when he missed Wednesday's practice with what was termed a foot injury. After all, ever since he was anointed the face of "Madden NFL 13," superstitious types have been fearing the worst. (Most who appear on the cover go on to be beset by injury that season, never mind the odds of any football player sustaining an injury in a given year).

Put those fears to rest, at least for now. Johnson returned to practice Thursday. Now might be a good time to point out that the physical play of Johnson has often left him bruised, battered and sitting out midweek practices in the past. If a similar pattern plays out this year but Johnson still shows up big on Sundays, no one is going to complain. It just might make for a case of the nerves each week.

Jeremy Maclin, hip, and DeSean Jackson, hamstring, Philadelphia Eagles: Maclin's right hip continues to be an issue, as he did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. According to CSNPhilly.com, Maclin said he felt better than he did earlier in the week and then was off to test his hip with some running. There's no word on how that went, but since it was not followed by practice, it's reasonable to assume it was less than ideal.

The surprise was the addition of Jackson to the injury report. Jackson was a regular participant Wednesday, but on Thursday, coach Andy Reid informed the media before practice that Jackson would not be present due to a hamstring injury. According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jackson hurt the hamstring at the end of Wednesday's practice and was seen sporting an ice wrap on his left leg.

There's no telling the severity of Jackson's injury by the limited information available, but late additions to the injury report are never popular. The closer it is to Sunday when an injury crops up, the riskier the player's status given the minimal recovery time. If an athlete returns to Friday practice, most concerns are alleviated. What Jackson does -- or does not do -- Friday could swing fantasy owners' hopes one direction or another.

Reid made it sound Thursday as if both players were improving and that they could both play Sunday. It would feel so much better if we could see both of them in some form of practice before the weekend.



If there's some good news to be found, receiver Riley Cooper (fractured clavicle) returned to limited practice for the first time Wednesday. It still seems like a stretch that he would be available in Week 2.

Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins, foot: Remember how coach Mike Shanahan said the team would know more after Garcon tested his foot in Wednesday's practice? Well, he didn't practice Wednesday. He didn't practice much Thursday either. Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan quoted Shanahan as calling Garcon "very limited" Thursday. Now Shanahan says the team should know more Friday. Early in the week, Garcon seemed confident he would be able to play.

Foot injuries are often difficult to assess for a receiver until he tries to make high-speed pivots and cuts where the foot is subject to increased shear forces. At this point, it does not look encouraging, but there is still another day to go -- another day to worry for fantasy owners. Heck, it could be another three days to worry if this goes down to Sunday.

Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers, knee: Smith was officially limited at practice Wednesday and Thursday because of soreness in his right knee, but it does not seem to be a major concern. The Charlotte Observer quotes Rivera as saying Smith is expected to play Sunday.

Nate Washington, leg, and Kenny Britt, knee, Tennessee Titans: Washington is listed with a leg injury on this week's report (no head injury as was initially suspected). He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday but expects to play Sunday. If he returns to practice Friday, it would go a long way toward confirming his availability.

Meanwhile, Britt is back and practicing with the team. He was a limited participant Wednesday and Thursday. According to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, coach Mike Munchak expects Britt to be in the range of 15 to 25 plays Sunday. It's worth remembering that this will be Britt's first game action since undergoing three knee surgeries, one of which was an ACL reconstruction. His participation in the game could evolve -- or devolve -- depending how his knee responds. There is little doubt the Titans are eager to reincorporate him into the offense given his talent, but whether he is ready to pick up where he left off remains to be seen.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders, hamstring: Moore has been a full participant in practice and impressing his teammates. According to the Contra Costa Times, quarterback Carson Palmer said of Moore, "He looked like the Denarius of old." Moore also said his conditioning was improved, another indication that holding him out of Monday's game was probably wise. It appears he will be ready to play in Week 2.

Devery Henderson, New Orleans Saints, concussion: Henderson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and appears unlikely to play in Week 2.

Tight Ends

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers, ribs: Gates has not practiced this week due to sore ribs. Before anyone panics, remember the Chargers played in a Monday night game, so he has had one fewer day of recovery. If anyone can take a couple of days off from practice and still perform in a game, it's Gates. I'm not overly concerned ... yet.

Quarterbacks

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans, left shoulder: Locker returned to limited practice Wednesday and increased his participation Thursday, strongly hinting at a return Sunday.



John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals, ankle: On Tuesday, it seemed highly unlikely that Skelton would be ready to return this week after getting carted from the field with an ankle injury. Coach Ken Whisenhunt did not want to commit to Kevin Kolb early, but by Thursday, ESPN's Adam Schefter was reporting a decision had been made. Kolb will be the starter in Week 2 against the New England Patriots.



Let's start with what we know: There are six teams on bye this week. The San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos are all off this week, good news for all of their currently injured players.

Of the teams playing in Week 6, at least one has given fantasy owners a heads-up regarding player status. Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith announced Wednesday that wide receiver Julio Jones will not play Sunday because of his injured hamstring. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the team hopes to have Jones back in Week 7. In the meantime, No. 3 receiver Harry Douglas will start opposite Roddy White. Douglas, who missed all of 2009 with a torn ACL, showed some brilliant flashes in the preseason and could see a target boost this week. Meanwhile, White, who has struggled off and on with a bruised thigh and some dropped balls (although he still leads the team in number of receptions and found the end zone in Week 5), continued with a limited practice schedule Wednesday but returned to full practice Thursday. White is expected to start Sunday as usual.

With that, we turn to other injured players who could impact your fantasy roster in Week 6.

[+] EnlargeMatt Schaub
Thomas B. Shea/Getty ImagesMatt Schaub missed Wednesday's practice with a shoulder injury but looks good to go for Sunday.
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans: Schaub took a big hit near his knee from Oakland Raiders defensive end Richard Seymour and appeared to be moving gingerly late in the game. Apparently, Schaub is also dealing with a sore shoulder, according to coach Gary Kubiak, and missed Wednesday's practice. However, Schaub returned to practice Thursday and it sounds as if he's in no danger of missing Sunday's game.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: As noted in Tuesday's blog entry, Blount took a helmet to his left knee in the Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers. He has not practiced yet this week and it appears he is unlikely to suit up in Week 6. Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman is certainly providing hints that the team plans to lean on veteran Earnest Graham, saying "... now this week he's going to get the majority of the reps, the majority of the carries." And Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times reported Thursday that Blount's injury could cause him to miss 1-2 games. He cited sources that say Blount is doubtful for Week 6 and questionable for Week 7.

Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis Colts: Add Addai to the long list of hamstring-injury sufferers. Addai left the Week 5 game in the second quarter with an injury to his right hamstring and underwent an MRI on Monday, although the results have not been shared. Addai did not practice Wednesday and the sense is he will not play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. After Friday we should get a better idea as to whether it will be Donald Brown or Delone Carter starting in his place.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins: Sometimes the bye week comes at just the right time and that appears to have been the case for Thomas. An additional week of rest for a hamstring injury that has bothered him since the preseason allowed Thomas to return to practice all week. With the Dolphins not playing until Monday night, his chances of being on the field are encouraging.



Quick Hits


• Speaking of the bye week coming at the right time, it certainly appears to be the case for the collective offensive weaponry of the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo got a week to rest his broken rib and further the healing process. Running back Felix Jones was able to give his shoulder a week without contact. Wide receivers Miles Austin (hamstring) and Dez Bryant (thigh) were allowed to rest their wheels. All have been full participants in practice this week and all are expected to start Sunday. The Cowboys must have forgotten what it's like to have this many offensive threats on the field at once (not to mention a healthy Jason Witten, who does not appear on the injury report). While it remains to be seen whether all of them can make it through a game and still be healthy, they are putting their best lineup on the field to face the New England Patriots.

[+] EnlargeBenJarvus Green-Ellis
Elsa/Getty ImagesBenJarvus Green-Ellis burned the Jets for 136 yards and two TDs last week but his status for this week is up in the air.
• Will the Patriots have all of their offensive weapons against the Cowboys, though? Maybe not. After a great performance Sunday, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis is now on the injury report because of a toe ailment. After being limited Wednesday, he didn't participate at all Thursday, which is definitely a concern. If he does not improve Friday, it could mean more work for Stevan Ridley this weekend. Meanwhile, teammate Danny Woodhead returned to limited practice this week after missing Week 5 with an ankle sprain.



Tight end Aaron Hernandez continues to sport a brace on his left knee designed to limit excess medial-lateral motion at the joint but is practicing. Hernandez played in Week 5 and at times appeared uncomfortable, but pressed through it and played for the majority of the game, even looking more comfortable as the game wore on. Hernandez is expected to play again Sunday.

New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs is still not back in practice after a "mild" MCL sprain kept him out of Week 5. Jacobs said he was ready to run last Thursday but apparently his knee doesn't quite agree. Given his history of knee injuries and his style of running, there is good reason to be very cautious before he's ready to get back to the grind of running against contact. Friday's practice will speak volumes, but it's looking as if Jacobs could miss another week.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is off the injury report after serving as the "emergency" back in Week 5 due to a hamstring strain. Mendenhall has been a full participant in practice and is expected to play Sunday. Less clear is how the workload will end up being shared between Mendenhall and Isaac Redman.

• Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is still recovering from a procedure on his injured hamstring and is not expected to play this week. Running back Arian Foster remains on the injury report, now listed as limited because of his quadriceps, but is still expected to be the starter and the feature back. Ben Tate has an Achilles injury listed along with the groin but was still a limited participant in practice. Derrick Ward was also limited with his high ankle sprain. As it stands, Tate appears to be second in line to Foster.

Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower and tight end Chris Cooley both continue to be limited in practice even after the bye week. Hightower had what coach Mike Shanahan referred to as a "sore" shoulder, while Cooley has been dealing with knee issues since undergoing offseason surgery. The Fredericksburg Freelance-Star reports Hightower actually injured his shoulder in the season opener but didn't disclose the injury and continued to play through it. Hightower insists he'll be ready to play this week. Meanwhile, John Keim of the Washington Examiner reports Cooley had fluid drained from his knee this week. It was Cooley who said before the season started that he expected to have to manage knee pain all season long. That appears to be playing itself out and his productivity has been limited as a result.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 6 in the Saturday morning blog!



The Houston Texans have seen star players go down in consecutive weeks. This time, it was on the other side of the ball, and it was season-ending. Linebacker Mario Williams tore a pectoral muscle and is done for the year. He is expected to undergo season-ending surgery this week, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.



Meanwhile, wide receiver Andre Johnson is making progress after a surgical procedure on his injured hamstring tendon. Although the Texans are not locking in a return date, coach Gary Kubiak said of Johnson, "As of right now, the soreness has gone away, and his rehab has picked up." The Chronicle notes that Johnson is not expected to return this week against Baltimore. But take comfort, fantasy owners. Based on Johnson's injury and subsequent procedure, there is every reason to be confident he'll return -- and return strong -- within the month.

The San Francisco 49ers have to take some bitter with the sweet. Although the team racked up its biggest margin of victory in nearly a quarter century, the 49ers also lost wide receiver Josh Morgan indefinitely to a broken bone in his right lower leg. According to The Sacramento Bee, Morgan underwent surgery Monday and could be placed on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Braylon Edwards remains sidelined after meniscus surgery, although the team hopes to have him back after its Week 7 bye.

And now we turn to the rest of the injury happenings in Week 5.

[+] EnlargeLeGarrette Blount
Kim Klement/US PresswireLeGarrette Blount was limited to just 34 yards rushing against the 49ers this past week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount took a helmet to his left knee Sunday and exited the game early. It is not clear whether he remained out because the Buccaneers were losing big to the 49ers at the time or whether he was truly unable to return. According to the St. Petersburg Times, coach Raheem Morris is calling Blount "day-to-day" at this point, adding, "[I'd] like to get more detailed information on him." So would his fantasy owners. More should be forthcoming when the team publishes first injury reports after Wednesday practice. In the meantime, it would be wise to secure a backup.

• Another player fantasy owners will have to take a wait-and-see approach on is Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, who looked to be quite uncomfortable when he exited Sunday night's game in the fourth quarter with a left hamstring injury. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, coach Mike Smith said Jones will not practice Wednesday and will be evaluated later in the week. By now, fantasy owners are familiar enough with these injuries to know that many players miss the week after the injury and sometimes more. It's best to be prepared to have someone step in for Jones should he sit. The Falcons likely would bump up Harry Douglas opposite Roddy White. Remember how good Douglas looked in the preseason? He is owned in less than 1 percent of leagues. If you're in a deep league and the pickings are slim, you might want to consider picking him up in the event Jones is out.

• And the hamstring injuries keep a comin'. Indianapolis Colts running back Joseph Addai left Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second quarter with a right hamstring injury. Addai was scheduled to undergo further evaluation Monday, but it is looking as if the Colts might be without him in Week 6. The Colts are getting all too familiar with the injury carousel, and Addai is just the latest addition.

• The San Diego Chargers are getting a bye week at about as good a time as ever. In Sunday's game, the Chargers found themselves down to one available running back (Jacob Hester) when Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert went out with injuries. Tolbert suffered a concussion in the second quarter, and Mathews injured his calf and wrist. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Mathews likely would not be able to go this week if the team were playing but could be ready by Week 7. One thing is for sure; going forward, the team plans to dress four running backs so as to have more insurance on game day.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is dealing with a pectoral strain suffered in Sunday's win over the New York Giants. The Seahawks surely are thankful to be catching a bye this week, as well. The Seattle Times notes that Charlie Whitehurst will lead the team in practice in the meantime.



• On a more encouraging note, the bye week rest seems to have helped Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin. Austin, who has been dealing with an ailing hamstring since the preseason, was back at practice and is expected to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

• The Steelers activated Rashard Mendenhall but reserved him for an emergency. That is a good indicator that they hope to have him back this week, especially given that backup Isaac Redman was forced out of the game with a left leg issue. Reports suggest that it was cramping as opposed to a more serious injury, but the Steelers would be happy to have a healthy Mendenhall regardless.

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

Keep close eye on injured Steelers

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
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PM ET


The season has ended for two more players: Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne will undergo surgery to repair a separated left (nonthrowing) shoulder suffered in Week 4, and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola will need surgery to repair a torn left triceps. Amendola has been out since the season opener after dislocating his elbow. As if the injuries alone weren't bad enough, ESPN sports business contributor Andrew Brandt points out that both players were in the final year of their respective contracts. Entering free agency with the uncertainty of coming off season-ending surgeries is less than desirable. At least Henne can point to Matthew Stafford as someone who had a similar surgery on his throwing shoulder, and we all (especially appreciative fantasy owners) know how well his recovery has turned out.

With that we turn to those players who could affect your fantasy roster this week.

[+] EnlargeBen Roethlisberger
Mitch Stringer/US PresswireBen Roethlisberger expects to play Sunday, but don't expect him to be terribly mobile.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger was wearing a protective boot at Wednesday's practice and is limiting stress on it early in the week. After he got back to practice Thursday, the expectation is that Roethlisberger will play Sunday. The team already is making preparations for that possibility, not unlike those taken last season to protect his then-ailing right foot. Roethlisberger indicates he will wear a modified shoe, one that is a size larger than normal with a metal reinforcement to limit bending in the injured region of his foot. While the shoe is intended to protect his foot, by design, it also limits mobility in the forefoot. Since it is the left foot that is affected, the one Roethlisberger steps into as he throws (i.e., not his plant foot), the injury is not likely to significantly affect his delivery. Unless pain prevents Roethlisberger from transferring his weight properly and forces him to throw from his back foot, passing should not be a huge issue.



Thursday practice undoubtedly went a long way in proving he could make necessary throws. General mobility, particularly movements such as pivoting to the right, which requires pushing off the left foot, will be more challenging. That said, Roethlisberger repeatedly has demonstrated that he can play through pain and perform effectively even when his mobility is compromised. Of concern has to be the fact that he already has been sacked 14 times this season. Naturally, the more protection Roethlisberger can secure Sunday when the Steelers face the Tennessee Titans, the less the chances of aggravating the injury in-game, so the offensive line is officially on notice.

Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward, RB, Houston Texans: Foster had a strong Week 4, rushing for 155 yards on 30 carries, and, most importantly, he emerged from the game no worse for the wear. Foster's health is critical this week with the team's primary receiver, Andre Johnson, having suffered a significant injury and the team's depth at running back compromised somewhat by injury this week as well. Tate suffered a groin injury in Week 4 and left the game early. While the team says he is making progress, he has not practiced yet this week. Ward has been out since Week 1 because of a high ankle sprain. He received an injection last week, and although he has not yet practiced, he has done some light running and cutting, according to the Houston Chronicle. Ward hopes to return to practice Friday, at which point the Sunday game plan for running backs should start to take shape. The one thing that appears certain is that Foster is expected start and carry a heavy workload against the Oakland Raiders.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Mendenhall strained his hamstring in Week 4 and was unable to practice Wednesday or Thursday. While Mendenhall still could make an appearance Friday, practice sessions are preparing Isaac Redman to be the starter. Redman showed some nice running ability when he stepped in for Mendenhall in Week 4, perhaps making the decision easier to allow Mendenhall's hamstring adequate recovery time. Fantasy owners in need of a running back for Week 5 should try to snap up Redman if he's still available.

Quick Hits


• Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson will be out for an extended period, as we indicated Tuesday. While the Texans have acknowledged that Johnson underwent some type of procedure on his hamstring, the details have been notably absent. There have been multiple reports of a projected three-week timetable. However, coach Gary Kubiak, speaking to reporters after Wednesday practice, indicated the team would not put a timeline on Johnson's return, saying, "The doctor feels good about it. Andre feels good about it." There you have it. Everyone's feeling good.

Everyone, that is, except fantasy owners wondering what to do with Johnson. The short-term approach is wait and see. Johnson showed remarkable resiliency last season in mostly playing through an ankle injury that likely would have sidelined others longer, and clearly the Texans expect to have him back this season. Although Johnson is likely to miss several weeks, if his hamstring is indeed improving, his activity level should increase within the next week. Only once he starts pushing it will we get a sense of whether things are going according to plan. For now, it seems a little early to jump ship. Meanwhile, Jacoby Jones becomes the Texans' No. 1 wide receiver option.

[+] EnlargeAaron Hernandez
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesAaron Hernandez has missed the past two games with injury but had TDs in his first two games of the season.
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez might be the most asked about player in my chats, emails and Twitter. I wonder whether he knows just how popular he is. He hasn't appeared in this space since last week because once a player is ruled out of a game, there's nothing to report until he returns to practice ... or goes backward. So today, some good news. Hernandez was not only at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis, but it was a full pads workout. That is a pretty strong signal that he is at least testing the knee (and his sprained MCL) with a more rigorous workout to see how it responds. This is at least encouraging for the prospects of having Hernandez available Sunday; it will be even more so if he follows it up with another practice Friday. Caution is warranted, however. It might still be early for return to competition, but if Hernandez holds up well this week, it certainly suggests his return could be near.

New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs did not practice Wednesday or Thursday because of a swollen knee. According to the New York Daily News, Jacobs wanted to return to practice Thursday but was held out an extra day "to be safe." The concern is still only minor, unless Jacobs is "safely" held out again Friday.

Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant returned to full practice this week after receiving medical clearance. Grant missed Week 4 with a bruised kidney but was actually feeling well early in the week. Consider it a week to get fresh legs. Grant should be a full go Sunday night in Atlanta.

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno is participating fully in practice. After just two carries for 4 yards last week, the hope is he will increase his activity this week. Daily practice with no setbacks could go a long way in making that happen.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson does not appear on the injury report this week. The groin injury he aggravated earlier this season seems to be doing better. Teammate C.J. Spiller did not practice Wednesday due to a sore knee but was back to full practice Thursday.

San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is again looking like he'll be out Sunday, as he has not practiced in order to rest his sore foot. Teammate Vincent Jackson has a hamstring strain to accompany the abdominal strain he's been nursing for a few weeks. Jackson is likely to have a week much like last week in which he spends most of it resting. The team hopes he will be able to go Sunday -- and he certainly has delivered despite being at less than full capacity -- but the dual injury combination might affect just how much playing time he'll see.

• And San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore tells reporters his ankle is feeling much better this week than last. It's amazing what a big late-game performance and a 3-1 record can do for one's spirits. So far Gore has been limited in practice, but if he played last week, it's a safe bet he'll be out there again Sunday when the 49ers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 5 in the Saturday morning blog.



Week 4 continued to provide thrills, drama and, naturally, injuries. Where, oh where, to begin?

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Brett Davis/US PresswireAndre Johnson is likely out this week, and probably for a few more games.
How about starting with one of the few wide receivers who rated a first-round draft pick in most fantasy leagues? Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson was running Sunday, and then all of a sudden, he wasn't. He went from vertical to face-down in a split-second, untouched.



While many thought he had suffered a knee ligament injury, in actuality, it didn't really have the look of a Wes Welker-like ACL/MCL injury, in which the athlete plants and changes direction, and the knee wobbles and fails. This had the look of failure, as in the sudden failure of a major muscle/tendon unit that just stops a runner midstride. The Texans are reporting that Johnson suffered a hamstring strain and that he is seeking additional opinions. Nothing more specific has been offered up yet.

Johnson could be seen grabbing the lower part of his hamstring, just above the knee, at the time of his injury, which would suggest that the injury was near the tendinous attachment. Those injuries are often slow to heal because of poorer blood supply to the tendon. As of now, it certainly appears the team will be without Johnson for an extended time; fantasy owners should plan on a replacement (although you can't really "replace" Johnson) who can fill in for multiple weeks.

And now on to the rest of the injury happenings in Week 4.

• The Pittsburgh Steelers will have an expanded injury report this week. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continues to take a lot of hits and this week it took a toll. Roethlisberger suffered a sprained left foot (Monday tests revealed no fracture). Although it will undoubtedly limit his mobility, he is expected to play Sunday, according to head coach Mike Tomlin. ... Running back Rashard Mendenhall's status is up in the air after he strained a hamstring in Sunday's game. ESPN's Bob Holtzman reports Mendenhall is not likely to do much in practice this week, meaning this could translate to a gametime decision. Isaac Redman is looking like a guy who should be picked up. ... The Steelers also lost linebacker James Harrison for an extended period with a facial fracture. He is expected to undergo surgery this week.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne left the Week 4 contest early with an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Henne downplayed the injury initially and despite sporting a sling after the game, he said that he expected to play through it. According to Jeff Darlington of NFL.com, the Dolphins are concerned about a separated shoulder, which could threaten Henne's season. Darlington adds that the team is seeking a second opinion, but if Henne were to be done, this could be the beginning of the Matt Moore era.



[+] EnlargeJackson
AP Photo/Gregory BullVincent Jackson scored a TD last week but then was sidelined again in the second with a leg injury.
San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson was able to play through an abdominal strain and deliver some of the best visual highlights of the week with his acrobatic catches. It certainly looked as if it wasn't holding him back. But then Jackson exited the game in the second quarter, raising the suspicion he had indeed aggravated the injury. Jackson returned in the second half but on a very limited basis. Later the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the Chargers indicated Jackson had suffered a "leg strain" as the result of compensating for the abdominal issue. Vague and somewhat bizarre. It's not clear what exactly is going on with Jackson just yet, but it does appear the Chargers plan to follow the same plan for him -- very little practice with the hopes of suiting up Sunday -- heading into Week 5.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams suffered a concussion in Week 4 and, as is the case with all NFL players, will have to pass a battery of tests and receive medical clearance before he can return.

New England Patriots running back Danny Woodhead left the game early with a left ankle injury, although there's no indication yet as to whether he'll miss any playing time.

Washington Redskins running back Tim Hightower played second fiddle to Ryan Torain this week, and after the game, head coach Mike Shanahan hinted at a shoulder injury for Hightower, according to the Washington Post. Hmmm. It's hard to know what to expect from the running back committee in Washington, but naturally we will be looking to see who ends up on the injury reports.

Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden continues to impress. Teammate Michael Bush, talented in his own right but often injured, suffered an ankle injury late in Sunday's game. His status for this week is uncertain.

• Best wishes to Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Eric Foster, who dislocated his right ankle Monday night. Anyone who saw the injury won't soon forget it. He has already undergone surgery and will remain in the hospital for several days before beginning his lengthy rehab process.

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



Lots of teams are getting some rest this week, and they have to be looking forward to it. The Detroit Lions have ailing quarterbacks and receivers, the Seattle Seahawks have hurt offensive and defensive linemen, and the Tennessee Titans ... well, they just need a break.

This week six teams are on bye -- the Lions, Seahawks, Titans, Denver Broncos, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens -- so fantasy owners need to hustle to fill those empty roster spots.



Here are some status updates as we look ahead to Week 7.

Quarterbacks

Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills: I know that not many fantasy owners were looking at Edwards as a bye-week replacement anyway, given the season he's had so far. But just in case you were contemplating it, don't. Edwards suffered a concussion in Week 6 and was not at practice Wednesday. This is his second concussion in just more than a year and he will be monitored for his recovery in terms of both symptoms and cognition (brain processing). It sounds as if the Bills are preparing Ryan Fitzpatrick for a likely Sunday start against the Carolina Panthers.

Running backs

Willie Parker
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesWillie Parker's toe is getting better, but now he's lost his starting job.
Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker, Pittsburgh Steelers: This week, coach Mike Tomlin indicated that Mendenhall has passed Parker on the running back depth chart. Parker has been dealing with a case of turf toe, and although he sported some supportive new shoes when he played last week, he has not done enough to maintain the starting position. As far as his toe goes, Parker did not appear to emerge from Sunday's contest any worse for wear, and he is back in practice to start the week. Meanwhile, newly anointed starter Mendenhall sustained a knee bruise in Sunday's game that relegated him to limited work Wednesday. The good news for Mendenhall fantasy owners is that this is not expected to keep him out of this week's matchup.



Marion Barber and Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys: Barber has no doubt benefited from the bye week to further the healing of his strained quadriceps muscle. He did not, however, benefit from the hit he took against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6. Barber thought he had just jammed his left thumb, but upon further review, it turns out he suffered a fracture. He has been outfitted with a cast, according to the Cowboys' official Web site. However, the injury has not affected his ability to practice, nor will it affect his availability for Sunday. Barber carries the ball predominantly with his right hand, so it should not affect his ball control on the run. It may be more challenging to catch a pass out of the backfield, however, so that option may be diminished.

Jones has been on the mend from a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) sprain and until this week has not practiced. He was back in limited work Monday and in full practice Wednesday, wearing a knee brace for support. According to the Cowboys' official Web site, Jones credited the team's athletic training staff with helping him get back to practice and reported only soreness after his return. PCL injuries can often be challenging to recover from, but the difficulty varies depending on the degree of damage to the ligament. The athlete is often left with some residual instability, which often shows up for a running back during sharp deceleration or change in direction. The brace provides additional support behind the knee to help control motion of the lower leg (tibia) relative to the thigh (femur). Jones has indicated that he likely will wear the brace if he plays Sunday (which he currently expects to do). It will be important to see how Jones' knee holds up after a full week of practice to gauge just how much action he's likely to see. After all, team owner Jerry Jones already announced on his weekly radio show that Tashard Choice is "going to get a big part of the load."

The good news for Dallas is bad news for fantasy owners. They have three backs who are likely to see playing time, but the division of labor is unclear at this point. At this point it seems to be shaping up as predominantly Barber and Choice with a sprinkling of Jones. Stay tuned for Saturday's update.

Wide receivers

Roy E. Williams, Dallas Cowboys: Williams has been back in practice this week after missing Week 5 (and resting during the bye week) because of bruised ribs. Williams also reportedly suffered cartilage damage in the area, which can be slow to heal. The good news is that it appears that Williams is responding well to practice and plans to play Sunday. The unknown factor is how he will feel absorbing contact, especially if he takes a shot to the previously injured area.

Anquan Boldin
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireAnquan Boldin has already called himself a gametime decision for Sunday, not a great sign.
Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals: Boldin is already referring to himself as a game-time decision, which is not great news for fantasy owners. Boldin, who suffered an ankle sprain in Week 6, did not practice Wednesday and told the Arizona Republic that his status is "up in the air." Boldin has been limited by soft-tissue injuries in the past, and teammate Steve Breaston has shown that he is capable of stepping up. Arizona does not play until Sunday night, so barring any major turnaround by Friday, fantasy owners should make plans to have a substitute for Boldin.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings: Harvin was limited in practice Wednesday as a result of his sore shoulder, which he aggravated during Sunday's game. Last week Harvin was limited throughout the week, played, but then suffered a setback which clearly caused him a great deal of pain. His availability for this week is unclear.

Jerricho Cotchery, New York Jets: Cotchery's strained hamstring kept him out of Week 6 action and may keep him sidelined again. On Wednesday, Cotchery did not participate in practice (only individual drills) and was non-committal about his potential availability for Sunday. If he is not running full speed by the end of the week, fantasy owners should be concerned.

Donnie Avery, St. Louis Rams: Avery has a bruised hip that kept him out of Wednesday practice. According to the Belleville News-Democrat, the hip tightened up on him, so the team limited him to conditioning work on the side. The hope is that he will be able to return to practice late in the week and be available for Sunday. At this point, his status is day-to-day.

Be sure to check back on Saturday for post-Friday NFL injury-report updates on all your fantasy players heading into the weekend.

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday 11 a.m.-noon, Friday 11 a.m.-noon and Sunday pregame 10:00-10:30 a.m.). And 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!

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