Week 12 is in the books and with three games happening on Thanksgiving, at least the pain of the cumulative injuries was spread out over several days.
• On Thursday, the Detroit Lions lost Kevin Smith late in the first half to an ankle sprain. The injury was reported as a high ankle sprain, but after the game Smith said the injury was not that bad. He told the Detroit News that he was cutting when someone fell on his ankle but pointed out he had 10 days to recover before the Lions' next game. Still, there are no guarantees with this type of injury that Smith will be ready to return. If Smith is unable to play, Maurice Morris would once again be in line for the start. As for Jahvid Best, he was placed on IR and is done for the season.
• The Dallas Cowboys were without the services of wide receiver Miles Austin as he continues to recover from a second hamstring strain, but Laurent Robinson didn't seem to mind. Austin has not yet returned to practice but is apparently moving around better, at least according to Jerry Jones. According to ESPNDallas.com, Jones said he expects Austin to play Sunday but, recognizing the tricky nature of hamstrings, he quickly followed that up with a caveat, saying, "We don't want to push that, because we've got a lot of football ahead of us." It sounds as if Austin is making progress, but the decision as to whether he will return to action will not likely be clear until late in the week.
• In the Thursday nightcap, the Baltimore Ravens were without the services of linebacker Ray Lewis, but it didn't stop the defense from halting the San Francisco 49ers' win streak. Lewis is still nursing a toe injury and may not be ready to return in Week 13.
• Sunday was supposed to be a happy day for the Houston Texans as they saw the return of wide receiver Andre Johnson after six games missed due to a hamstring injury. Johnson managed to get through the game just fine (albeit a little tired, per head coach Gary Kubiak) but the Texans lost their second quarterback in two games when Matt Leinart, replacing injured starter Matt Schaub, suffered a fractured clavicle. The Texans confirmed that Leinart will undergo season-ending surgery. This is not Leinart's first experience with a broken collarbone. In October 2007, Leinart, then with the Arizona Cardinals, broke his left clavicle and was placed on injured reserve. For now, the Texans' starting quarterback is T.J. Yates, with newly acquired Jake Delhomme and Kellen Clemens as backups.
There were a number of players who sat out Week 12 and fantasy owners are hoping to get them back soon with fantasy playoffs approaching. Will they be back in Week 13?
• Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was optimistic last week that he would play but fantasy owners who have seen the impact of high ankle sprains knew better. Peterson never really tested the ankle last week and was not ready for action. He may not be ready this week, either. While he's reportedly improving, until he takes the practice field, there's no independent way to judge how close he is to game action. Fantasy owners should prepare for the possibility of another week without Peterson.
• The Philadelphia Eagles play Thursday night and it won't likely be enough time to get two key players back. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, whose already ailing hamstring tightened up in practice last week, is trying to work his way back from two injuries. He did not practice Tuesday, the big prep day for a Thursday game, and is not expected to be available. Vince Young led the Tuesday practice for the quarterback position, indicating Michael Vick will almost assuredly miss another week because of his broken ribs. With 10 days between this game and the next one, both players have a chance to be ready for Week 14. A good sign for Vick is that, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadephia Inquirer, he was throwing some balls to receivers on the side. No word on how uncomfortable -- or accurate -- he was.
• New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was not ready to play in Week 12 despite his own announcement that he was improving. The fact he's been doing some side work is encouraging, but there's still the matter of allowing the cracked bone in his foot to heal adequately before returning to a game situation. The biggest clue will come when we see that Bradshaw has been cleared for practice. Until that happens, the presumption is he is not ready to return to play. Teammate Mario Manningham missed Monday night's game after swelling in his knee became an issue again this past week. Despite traveling with the team, he was not able to get through pregame warmups in a convincing enough manner to warrant playing. Fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks took his share of physical punishment in the game, leaving at one point with what the team later called a rib contusion. Nicks was able to return shortly afterward and maintained he was fine after the game. At this point, he does not appear in danger of missing any time because of the ribs.
• The Oakland Raiders have their share of walking wounded, many of interest to playoff-bound fantasy owners. Running back Darren McFadden has now missed four games since suffering a midfoot sprain in Week 7. Largely invisible over the past few weeks as he received treatment on the foot, McFadden was out of the boot and walking around the team facility early this week. He was also seen working out on the side during team practice. While those are the most encouraging signs thus far for McFadden, there is still quite a bit more for him to do to return to action. The Raiders certainly have the luxury of ensuring McFadden's gradual progress, given how well Michael Bush has been playing in his place. Even when McFadden returns, which appears as if it won't be before Week 14, the team is likely to ease him back into action alongside Bush.
• Receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford both missed Week 12 with foot injuries. Moore was a bit of a surprise addition to last week's injury report when he showed up with a walking boot on his right foot after apparently injuring it in Week 11. Ford has been out for two weeks now, and while he claims his injury is different than McFadden's, it is similarly slow to progress. According to Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times, Ford expects to return to practice Thursday but does not hold out much hope for playing Sunday. It looks like another week of drought for fantasy owners when it comes to some key Raiders.
See you on Thursday as the practice updates start to shape up the game plans for Week 13.