Stephania Bell: Reggie Bush
Well, a return to practice would be a nice start. After being held out Thursday for what he described as precautionary reasons, Bush says he expects to practice Friday, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com. How much or how little he does could go a long way toward setting expectations for Monday’s game. Bush told the Detroit Free Press he had not missed a game because of a muscle pull prior to last week. Perhaps not, but he has only played all 16 regular-season games just twice in his career. And while he is just 28 years old, one could make the argument that the accumulated wear and tear of being a running back in the NFL combined with his previous injuries qualifies him as an injury risk.
Bush has certainly looked strong when he’s taken the field this year, reinvigorated even, in this Detroit offense. But calf injuries can be stubborn, even when they are minor. And the explosiveness Bush has displayed this season may be compromised if his calf is not fully cooperating. Bush said he expects to play this week, but until he takes the field Monday night and gets through the game without a setback, he retains some risk.
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.
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.
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 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.
As always, injury concerns regarding players heading into the Sunday and Monday games can be critical. Each week in the Saturday blog, we run down a list of key fantasy players, by position, who appear in the Friday injury report, along with the injured body part(s) as listed on the report, player status, and any relevant developments or insights. The primary fantasy positions are covered (quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end). Our injury designations include “out” (O), “probable” (P), “questionable” (Q) and “doubtful” (D).
With that in mind, good luck in Week 2! May your players stay healthy and lead you to victory.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, ribs (P): Romo impressed when he came back for the second half of Sunday night’s game after taking a big shot to the ribs. No one should be surprised, given that he has played with worse, including rib fractures. Romo was a full participant in practice throughout the week and, again, it comes as no surprise that he is expected to play Sunday in Arrowhead Stadium.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs, quadriceps (P): Speaking of Arrowhead, the team hosting the Cowboys has been dealing with its own injury concern. Charles suffered a contusion (deep bruise) to his quad in the season opener. After getting a day off Wednesday, he has made steady progress throughout the week -- upgrading to full practice Friday -- and is on track to play Sunday. In fact, Charles declared his readiness Friday. The fact Charles had good range of motion early in the week was a positive indicator that the injury would not severely limit him. There’s always potential the quad will tighten up on him in the game, but no doubt Charles will go through extensive warm-ups before taking the field.
Arian Foster (calf) and Ben Tate (shoulder), Houston Texans (P): Foster and Tate contributed in Sunday’s outing, although the division of work was not quite the 50-50 split coach Gary Kubiak had hinted at before the game. Foster carried the ball 18 times to Tate’s nine, and Foster wants more moving forward. Kubiak maintains that he would prefer the carries to be more even, at least in these early games. In reality, who knows how this will actually play out? The number of actual carries each back has in this week’s game against the Tennessee Titans might have more to do with how the game unfolds. Despite the presence of Foster and Tate on the injury report, both practiced in full throughout the week and the “probable” tags tell us both are expected to play. The only question is how much each back will produce.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions, finger/groin/knee (P): On Tuesday, we discussed the injuries Bush suffered in Week 1, and a hyperextended knee was later added to the mix. We also noted that Lions coach Jim Schwartz has no plans to limit Bush’s workload. (As long as he stays on the field, that is.) Full practice every day and a “probable” tag mean Bush will be playing in Arizona this weekend.
Rashard Mendenhall, Arizona Cardinals, hamstring (P): Mendenhall came into Week 1 listed as “probable” because of knee soreness that had cropped up in the preseason. He played. This week, Mendenhall is on the injury report with a hamstring ailment. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but moved up to full practice Friday, just like last week. Expect Mendenhall to play Sunday, barring a setback.
Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams, foot (P): As noted earlier, Richardson sat out Wednesday with a foot ailment (coach Jeff Fisher described it as “sore”) but returned Thursday, sounding confident. On Friday, Richardson was listed as a full participant, and his “probable” tag indicates the Rams expect him to play against the Falcons.
Da’Rel Scott, New York Giants, knee (P): With Andre Brown on the IR/designated-for-return list, the Giants are counting on David Wilson and, to a lesser extent, Scott to shoulder the load (and perhaps recently signed Brandon Jacobs). Scott was limited Wednesday because of his knee but was able to practice fully Thursday and Friday. The Giants plan to have him available Sunday.
Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens, thigh (Q): Pierce emerged from Week 1 with a thigh injury and was subsequently limited in practice throughout the week. Despite the “questionable” tag, he is expected to play against the Browns, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, foot (P): After putting in full practices every day this week, Bryant does not appear to be limited by the mild foot sprain he suffered Sunday night. With a “probable” designation, Bryant is expected to play Sunday, and no doubt he is eager to display some of his trademark big-play ability. As long as he does not aggravate his foot in the game, there’s a good chance Bryant will make us forget about the injury.
Roddy White (ankle) and Julio Jones (knee), Atlanta Falcons (Q): The Falcons are listing their top two wideouts as “questionable.” After last week’s last-minute fiasco surrounding White’s status and the true nature of his ankle injury, what are fantasy owners to believe this week? Falcons coach Mike Smith says White will play, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. However, it should be noted that White returned to only limited practice Friday after sitting out Wednesday and Thursday. If White is to be believed, those missed practices are a red flag as to just how healthy (or unhealthy) he is. There is no evidence yet that White can perform up to his previous high level.
Consequently, we would expect more from Jones. Oh, wait. Jones is also on the injury report, listed as “questionable” with a knee injury. Jones missed Wednesday’s practice, as well, but did return for limited work Thursday and Friday. There has been no strong suggestion that Jones would miss Sunday’s game, but the "questionable" tag mean it’s worth double-checking before kickoff. After all, the Falcons have already shown they might not be forthcoming when it comes to injuries to their star players.
Wes Welker (ankle) and Eric Decker (shoulder), Denver Broncos (P): Welker came into the season opener with the residuals of an ankle sprain but proved it was not going to limit him. He resumed full practice Friday (after being limited Wednesday and Thursday) and is expected to be on the field Sunday. Decker cropped up on this week’s injury report with a shoulder ailment. His season-opening appearance did not match Welker’s, and no doubt he is looking for a better outing against the Giants. He should at least get the opportunity as he practiced in full Thursday and Friday and is expected to play Sunday.
Larry Fitzgerald, hamstring (Q) and Andre Roberts, quadriceps (P), Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald has been bothered by a hamstring that tightened up on him Wednesday but was able to participate on a limited basis each day this week. Barring a pregame setback, it appears Fitzgerald will play Sunday. Roberts was on the injury report because of the quadriceps issue last week, but he played and, given his “probable” tag, is expected to do the same this week.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints, foot (P): Colston may well appear on the injury report regularly because of his foot, given that it has been bothering him since last year. It did not seem to limit him in Week 1, though, and Colston, a gritty player, is likely to play through it again Sunday unless the pain becomes unmanageable. This week, he was able to practice fully every day and the foot does not seem to be limiting him. He is expected to play against the Buccaneers.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars, groin (P): Shorts was kept to limited workouts throughout the week, undoubtedly part of the plan to preserve him for Sunday’s matchup against the Oakland Raiders. Listed as “probable,” he is expected to play.
Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks, knee (P): Rice’s knee might keep him on the injury report throughout the season as the team could routinely give him an extra day off from practice. After sitting out Wednesday, Rice returned to full practices Thursday and Friday. Just as he played this past Sunday, expect him to do so again when the Seahawks host their division rival San Francisco 49ers.
DeVier Posey, Houston Texans, Achilles (P): Posey continues to practice fully with the team throughout the week, and the "probable" tag indicates the Texans expect him to be available Sunday.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers, toe (P): There was reason for concern when Finley appeared on the Packers’ injury report Wednesday because of a toe injury suffered in the season opener. His surprise return to a limited practice Thursday was a positive sign; the fact he repeated the effort Friday was an even better one. There’s no telling how a toe injury will fare in the course of a game, so this is something that could bother Finley as a result of pushing off and route running as the game progresses. But, given the “probable” tag, it’s clear the Packers plan on Finley being available at the start.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans, back/groin (P): We’re accustomed to seeing Daniels on the injury report, but we’re also accustomed to seeing him play through various ailments. He was back in full practice Friday after lighter workouts the previous two days. It appears Daniels will again take the field when the Texans host the Titans in Week 2.
Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts, hip (D): Originally listed as questionable on the injury report because of a hip problem that kept him out of practice throughout the week, Allen was downgraded to doubtful Saturday and is not expected to play.
Kai Forbath, Washington Redskins, right groin (Q): Forbath popped up on the injury report Friday with a right groin injury, although he was still listed as a full participant. The Redskins had an available substitute at the ready, and, as of Saturday morning, there are reports that the sub might be called upon to fill in. According to ESPN 980, a source says John Potter will be the placekicker for the Redskins on Sunday. Although the team has not declared Forbath out, fantasy owners should plan to find another option at the position.
Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders, right calf (P): Janikowski’s sore right calf keeps him on the injury report as he takes Wednesdays off, but he is still playing. Expect him to play again when the team hosts the Jaguars on Sunday.
This space is intended for a list of key players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.
Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis Colts, knee: Ballard suffered a knee injury in practice Thursday, but the seriousness of the ailment was not immediately revealed. On Friday, the team announced that Ballard had torn his right ACL and was done for the year.
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars, right thumb/right hand: After suffering a cut that required 15 stitches on his already-injured hand, Gabbert will sit out Sunday’s game. Chad Henne gets the start in Oakland.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers, foot: Despite Bell’s optimism that he could be ready in Week 2, he has not even returned to individual drills in practice. This appears to be progressing the way foot sprains often do; the athlete starts in a boot, gets the boot removed, walks without pain and thinks his return is around the corner so increases his work load -- only to find out the recovery won’t be so quick after all. The Steelers do not want an injury that could become a chronic problem; as such, they will be smart and cautious when it comes to treating Bell’s foot injury. Consider Bell week-to-week going forward.
Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers, knee: Miller continues to upgrade his rehab as a limited practice participant but does not appear quite ready for competition. He will not play Monday night.
Kenjon Barner, RB, Carolina Panthers, foot: Barner missed last week’s contest and, after not practicing at all this week, will also sit Sunday.
Off the injury report
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts: This announcement couldn’t come soon enough. With Ballard being out for the year, the Colts will lean more heavily on Bradshaw, who, after a gradual buildup in practice work leading to Week 1, is in good shape to absorb the load. Bradshaw will be backed up by Donald Brown.
Be sure to check out "Fantasy Football Now," Sundays on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. ET, for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, (foot): On Tuesday, we learned that Bryant had suffered a foot sprain in Sunday night's game, but that both he and the team were optimistic about his chances of playing this week. Their optimism is supported by the fact that Bryant was a full participant in both Wednesday and Thursday practices. According to the Dallas Morning News, Bryant says his foot "feels great." He appears to be on track for Sunday.
Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions, (finger, groin): In a post earlier this week, we outlined just what Bush had to endure as he racked up points for his fantasy owners in Week 1. We also noted that coach Jim Schwartz made it clear that they weren't going to lighten his workload in games. Heck, they didn't even lighten it in practice this week. Bush was a full participant on both Wednesday and Thursday, making it appear he will also be a full participant Sunday.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers, (toe): Finley suffered a toe injury in the first game of the season. He did not practice Wednesday, but was able to return on a limited basis the next day. This was a bit of a surprise, since coach Mike McCarthy had expressed doubt Finley would practice Thursday. According to ESPN.com, McCarthy noted Finley was making progress and hoped he would be able to go again on Friday. While it's a good sign that Finley was out on the field a day earlier than that, it's still not clear whether he'll be able to push off hard enough or cut sharply enough to be game ready come Sunday. First things first: let's see what he's able to do on Friday.
Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis Rams, (foot): Richardson was given a day off on Wednesday to rest a sore foot, but he did return to limited work on Thursday. The team has not offered any specifics as to the nature of Richardson's foot ailment, but according to ESPN.com, Richardson says the foot feels "great," adding, "It ain't nothing a cold tub can't take care of." We'll see. Teammate Isaiah Pead was suspended for Week 1, but rejoined his team at practice this week and could be available Sunday.
Week 1 is in the books! As always, injuries old and new will impact fantasy lineups everywhere. Here's what we know so far.
Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (groin): Don't say you weren't warned. Amendola has long been touted as a high-risk, high-reward option and both qualities were in plain view last Sunday. Amendola came into the season opener on the mend from a groin injury suffered in the second preseason game, and while he had improved, he resumed practicing on a limited basis just last week. He was not expected to be at full health, thus making him a risk for a setback in the game, and it didn't take long for that setback to occur. Late in the second quarter, Amendola could be seen reaching instinctively toward the injured area of his right upper thigh and pelvis as he limped off the field. Somewhat surprisingly, he returned to the game in the third quarter. More surprisingly, he delivered a solid performance in the aftermath of the setback, but it may have come at a price. The Patriots play Thursday night and Amendola was absent from the team's Tuesday walk-through, typically the most significant practice day in a Thursday game week. His status may come down to a game-time decision but fantasy owners should make plans to have a backup in place. If he does play -- which, according to ESPN and media reports, is unlikely -- he will not be at full health. The question if he does suit up will be whether he can muster another performance like last Sunday or whether he will potentially set himself significantly further back. If he sits Thursday against the Jets as it appears he will, it would give him a two-week recovery period before the Patriots' subsequent matchup against Tampa Bay.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons (ankle): White's status provided some last-minute pregame drama Sunday when reports emerged that his ankle injury was more serious than previously revealed by the team. It's not unusual for a team to downplay the severity of an athlete's injury. But even in the day and age of gamesmanship, it is still uncommon for a team to refute the nature of an injury outright. When White originally injured his ankle in the preseason, it was reported as a "minor ankle sprain". Reports from NFL.com indicated it was a lateral ankle sprain, not a high ankle sprain, which is an entirely different injury. The team denied that White's injury was a high ankle sprain. On Sunday, we learned from White himself (after the game) that he was indeed dealing with a high ankle sprain and that he had not been able to test it in various ways in the week leading up to the opener. White told reporters, "It's hard to cut. It's hard to do just about everything at the position." Although he was on the field, he was clearly not himself and the question facing fantasy owners now is when he will return to form.
Suffering a high ankle sprain does not automatically translate to a longer absence than a standard ankle sprain; the injuries are still measured in terms of severity and the extent of tissue damage. A severe lateral sprain can be worse than a mild high sprain. Some movements, however, particularly rotational, can be more difficult with a high ankle injury. It is also critical for the injury to heal properly to prevent longer-term problems down the line. White said doctors told him initially he would be sidelined for approximately a month. This week marks a month since the initial injury so, barring a setback, he should be rounding into form soon. It's not yet clear whether he will play this Sunday when the team hosts the Rams, although it seems likely, given he played in Week 1. Fantasy owners will want to see just how much he does in practice, however, before making a decision about Week 2.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (foot): Bryant sprained his left foot late in Sunday night's game as he appeared to get it caught underneath him as he was rolled on by a defender. Although he walked off the field, Bryant's frustration with the injury on the sideline was immediately obvious. Then he returned to the game moments later, suggesting it was not perhaps as bad as originally feared. X-rays after the game were negative for any fractures. ESPN's Ed Werder reported that a subsequent MRI confirmed a mild foot sprain for Bryant, and the Cowboys -- as well as Bryant himself -- are optimistic about his chances for playing this week. Naturally, any foot injury is a concern for a running back or a receiver, but Bryant's ability to return to last week's game was a positive sign. Expect him to be perhaps limited in practice but, as of now, he appears to be in line to play against the Chiefs.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (wrist): Not that anyone would have known based on his performance Sunday, but Vereen fractured a bone in his left wrist on his first play of the game, a story originally reported by Fox Sports. (Vereen went on to finish out the day Sunday to the tune of 101 rushing yards and seven receptions.) While it was immediately apparent he would miss some time once the plan for surgery was announced, a definitive timetable remains hard to project. The Boston Herald cites a source as saying Vereen will miss at least a month. Beyond the healing parameters for a fracture (typically about six weeks, although surgical stabilization may allow sooner return to activity), there is the issue of regaining adequate motion and strength around the wrist and hand to provide ball security. Since Vereen was given extra work Sunday when teammate Steven Ridley was involuntarily sidelined after fumbling, the Patriots have made it clear that ball security is of the utmost importance. The Patriots placed Vereen on injured reserve-designated to return on Tuesday, meaning he can return to practice after six weeks and return to play after eight weeks. That means the earliest he could play is Week 11 because the Patriots have a bye in Week 10.
Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions (thumb, groin): Bush appeared to have a new lease on his running back life Tuesday, amassing 90 rushing yards and, perhaps more impressively, 101 receiving yards Sunday with a touchdown thrown in for good measure. But the oft-injured running back -- most notably in the early part of his career, as he missed only one game in the past two seasons with Miami -- sustained not one but two injuries Sunday. Bush dislocated his thumb, later telling reporters, "it was pointing in the wrong direction, but they were able to pop it back in and tape it up." It would seem that this could have presented a big problem for a running back who needs to catch and carry the ball, but Bush's solution was simple. "After that, I just carried the ball with my right hand," Bush said. As if that weren't enough, Bush indicated that on the subsequent series he pulled a groin muscle. None of that was enough to keep him from being exceptionally productive last Sunday, which also bodes well for his chances of playing this week in Arizona. Naturally, there will be concerns about the potential aggravation of the groin injury, but at least Bush appears in line to start. According to the Detroit Free Press, coach Jim Schwartz has no plans to limit Bush's workload in an effort to protect his body (unsurprising if you look at track record of play for injured running backs in Detroit). "That's life in the big city," Schwartz said. "You're a running back in the NFL." Bush's fantasy owners should make every effort to acquire Joique Bell, who looked pretty darn good for the Lions on Sunday in that No. 2 role.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (quad): Charles left Sunday's game early with what is being called a "quad contusion," otherwise known as a deep bruise of the large muscle on the front of the thigh. The biggest factor in determining how much this will affect Charles is how much bleeding or bruising there actually is in the muscle and how quickly it dissipates. Head coach Andy Reid told reporters Monday that Charles does have his range of motion (a positive, suggesting the thigh is not overly stiff or swollen), and the Kansas City Star reports Reid was hopeful about his availability for Sunday's home opener. The key will be how well Charles can move throughout the week and whether he can run without discomfort and at full speed by Sunday.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (ribs): We were told Sunday night on the television broadcast that Romo "got the wind knocked out of him" when he absorbed a double-crunch blow to the ribs just before halftime. It certainly looked like it had the potential to be more serious, but Romo's ability to return and finish out the game eased some concern. He clearly wasn't comfortable and did undergo further testing postgame. The good news is that there was no structural damage and the subsequent diagnosis was "bruised ribs." The Cowboys and Romo fantasy owners had to be relieved to hear "bruised" and not "broken." It was just two years ago when Romo played with broken ribs, leading us to believe he will continue to play now. He may get some additional rest this week in practice to allow the pain to settle and he may get some additional padding in the area for the game, but this is not expected to keep him from facing the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars (hand): Gabbert came into the opening week of the season as questionable with a nondisplaced fracture in his right (throwing) thumb, an injury suffered during the team's second preseason game. After doing enough in practice during the week to convince the team he was ready to play, Gabbert did indeed start. He did not finish. Gabbert left in the fourth quarter with a laceration on his right hand that required 15 stitches to close. He has already been declared out for Week 2. Chad Henne will get the start in Oakland.
Zach Sudfeld, New England Patriots (hamstring): Sudfeld was apparently dealing with a hamstring issue, which may have been a factor in his lack of contribution last Sunday. With the Patriots on a short week, it's unclear whether Sudfeld will be available Thursday and whether he would even be fully healthy if active.
And we're keeping an eye on:
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (back/forearm): Gronkowski is working his way back to action, but don't expect it to come on a short week. At least, it doesn't appear that way as of Tuesday.
Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (foot): Bell proclaimed he would aim to return in Week 2 but followed that up with the caveat that he wasn't making any promises. That would indeed be a quick turnaround following a midfoot sprain, but no timetable -- especially when it comes to foot injuries -- is set in stone. With the report Tuesday from Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest that Bell has not yet begun individual drills in practice, it does not appear likely Bell's return is imminent. The Steelers also re-signed Jonathan Dwyer in the wake of LaRod Stephens-Howling's ACL tear.
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.
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 ReceiversHakeem 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.
Welcome back, NFL referees! Tonight will mark their season debut in Baltimore as the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns. I have no doubt that they, like players who do not start the season on time because of contract disputes, have been maintaining their workout programs in order to be ready at the drop of a hat. But I wonder if they, like the players, will take some time to adapt to the speed of the game and will we potentially see an increased injury rate in the referees in-season this year? Something to keep an eye on.
Here's who else we're keeping an eye on in Week 4.
However they decide to label it, here's what we know: Stafford did not practice Wednesday but did return Thursday, a good sign that he is preparing to be available Sunday.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots (right shoulder): If you've missed seeing Brady's name on the injury report this year, well, he's back. And it's the same body part he was listed with when he went on that record streak of injury report appearances a few years running. He was limited at practice Wednesday but expect him to play, as always.
John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (ankle): Skelton began limited practices last Thursday and that's how he started off this week. Still recovering from a sprained ankle, he returned to limited practice again this week. Right now it looks as if Kevin Kolb will stay under center.
Tingling is a hallmark nerve symptom; when the tingling happens in both hands at the same time, it's a signal that the spinal cord is involved. The medical staff was understandably cautious when Bradshaw reported the symptoms and, after evaluating him, determined he could remain at the game, but could not return to play in the game. Bradshaw underwent a subsequent MRI, where the disc issue was detected. While disc injuries can be serious, they can also be fairly benign. It's not uncommon for bulging discs to be present and be completely asymptomatic. If there is an event that results in inflammation, it can become painful or provoke nerve tissue in the area (this is perhaps what Bradshaw was trying to explain when he referenced an "inflamed disc"). Often once the inflammation resolves, the symptoms do as well. It appears this was the case with Bradshaw.
Bradshaw has practiced fully both Wednesday and Thursday and is on track to resume his starting role Sunday against the Eagles. The Giants would not return him to play if he was at any significant risk, and his clearance to return indicates his neurological symptoms have resolved. The unknown aspect is whether these symptoms will return. There is no true predictability one way or another, however, it is not uncommon to have more than one episode once a disc injury is present. Those episodes can be weeks, months or even years apart. And in some cases, there is no recurrence.
Those who make their living at a computer are at as much, if not more, risk than professional football players for developing disc problems in their neck and back. So if everyone on a laptop is going to continue to work, Bradshaw can too. If Bradshaw's neck does turn into a recurring problem then his status may change, but until that time, he can be expected to play.
Jackson has made an impressive recovery of his own from a right lateral knee sprain. He returned to limited practice Wednesday but emerged seeming less than thrilled with the result. Jackson told the Buffalo News on Thursday, "I was a little sore ... a little swollen." It's not terribly surprising that Jackson's knee would respond that way to the increased activity; the question was whether he would have to scale it back further on the second day. Apparently not. There were no lingering effects into Thursday afternoon's practice and Jackson participated in most of it, according to the News. After practice, coach Chan Gailey told reporters, "I think if we make it through the next couple days and continue to improve I think [Jackson] will have the opportunity to play."
There is still plenty of time for things to change but it appears to be shaping up for Jackson to be available along with a healthy Tashard Choice, while Spiller likely rests another week.
Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (groin): Jackson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but this week isn't so much about whether he'll play or not, it's about what can be expected. Last Sunday, Jackson gained only 29 yards rushing on 11 carries, most of which were very short gains with the exception of one run for 13 yards. Jackson acknowledged the injury affected him but also said he didn't suffer any setbacks. Until we see him running full speed, there will be some question as to whether the injury is truly behind him.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans (knee): Foster took in a light practice Wednesday but was back at it in full on Thursday. So far, so good.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (shoulder): McFadden's presence here is a reminder that sometimes players appear on injury reports with very minor ailments -- bumps and bruise from a game -- because they take fewer reps in practice to preserve their bodies. Of course we all understand why there is a slight panic for fantasy owners when it's McFadden's name that appears here. While Oakland's official Thursday injury report is not in at the time of this writing, a source tells me he is participating and is "fine."
Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (knee): On Tuesday we highlighted Bush's knee concerns, but the real question was whether we would see him in practice. After being held out Wednesday, Bush returned to limited practice Thursday and was running well. If he can put in another good effort Friday, it appears he will play Sunday.
Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (rib): On Tuesday, we discussed what would determine whether McGahee could play this week, and his limited participation in practice Wednesday with a bump up to full participation Thursday shows he is on track.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (rib): Another running back, another rib injury. There isn't much concern here because McCoy practiced fully both Wednesday and Thursday.
Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions (groin): Leshoure was limited in practice because of a groin injury but keep in mind, he is coming into this season off major surgery (Achilles repair). There is no indication that his Sunday status is in jeopardy, but Friday's practice should yield better clues.
Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals (knee): With teammate Beanie Wells going on IR (designated for return, meaning he can return in Week 12), Williams has an opportunity to shine. He is listed on the report but put in full practice. His value is on the rise.
Evan Royster, Washington Redskins (knee): Royster strained his patellar tendon and has been held to limited practice so far this week. Roy Helu (turf toe) is now on IR, but Ryan Grant was just added to the mix so the Redskins can continue with a running back carousel.
Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs (ankle): Hillis has been in a walking boot since the game ended and has not practiced. It's not looking great for his chances to suit up this week. Teammate Jamaal Charles is not on the injury report this week, however. Kudos to Charles, who had an outstanding performance Sunday (233 rushing yards!) and showed some of the pre-injury speed on a 91-yard breakaway run. With Hillis possibly out and Charles showing improvement, he could be poised for a big week.
Wide ReceiversCalvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (ankle): Johnson has now been on the injury report each week but has never been at risk of not playing. Limited Wednesday, full practice Thursday, play Sunday.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): Maclin's hip benefited from the rest in Week 3 and he claims he's much improved. Full practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and he is expected to play in the big matchup against the New York Giants on Sunday night.
The Redskins have maintained that Garcon can proceed based on how the foot feels, which tells us they're not overly concerned about the injury worsening. Still, pain exists to help prevent us from doing things that would lead to further injury, and depending on the location and quality of it, it is not necessarily something that can or should be overridden. With coach Mike Shanahan telling reporters Thursday that Garcon's foot is still sore and with Garcon continuing to be limited in practice (although he is making progress according to Shanahan), it appears he could miss another week.
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (foot): I said it here Tuesday and I'll say it again: Expect Nicks to play in Week 4. He got the benefit of some extra rest for his sore foot last week, but returned to limited practice Thursday. He will be ready for Sunday night in Philadelphia.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (groin): Johnson practiced on a limited basis both days. There is reason to keep an eye on this, as Johnson suffered a groin injury in the preseason. But this has more the appearance of preserving a veteran star than anything else.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (hand): The Falcons announced that Jones suffered a laceration (cut) to his hand, which is why he left the game briefly Sunday. He has been limited in practice, likely to protect the hand and help it to heal. He is expected to play.
Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans (ankle): According to the Tennessean, Britt described his cascade of injury after injury as "very frustrating." Britt went on to say, "It's like something I can't get right, injury after injury. The last healthy season I had was my rookie year." This has been an overarching concern with Britt for the last few years. A very serious hamstring injury derailed his season two years ago. He headed into 2011 with his quad and hamstring nagging at him, then tore his ACL later that year. During his recovery following reconstructive knee surgery, he needed a follow-up scope and an additional scope on the opposite knee. The Titans articulated their concern when he made his debut in Week 2, saying they planned to limit his touches. A week later he has yet another injury. And, although it is considered relatively minor, he has yet to practice this week. He still hopes to play, but the injury concerns will not disappear when he returns.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings played in the Monday night game but we all know his performance is hardly the thing we'll remember. He did appear to be at less than full speed at times but managed to play in the game and emerge no worse for the wear. He's been limited in practice since but looks to be in line to play this weekend when the Packers host the Saints.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs (elbow): On Tuesday we commented on how painful McCluster's injury looked so no one would have been surprised if he was not in practice this week. But there he was on Wednesday, wearing a brace and participating only in non-contact drills but he was out there nonetheless. On Thursday, he put in another limited practice. He's surprised so far, maybe he will again on Sunday.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (hand): Edelman has not practiced since injuring his hand in Sunday night's game. There's not much to go on here, but two missed practices aren't encouraging for Sunday.
Tight EndsDustin Keller, New York Jets (hamstring): Keller has not played since Week 1 because of his injured hamstring but it looks as if things will change this Sunday. He has been practicing on a limited basis and according to ESPNewYork's Rich Cimini, coach Rex Ryan says he expects Keller to play.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (shoulder): On Tuesday we said Cook would need to show he could perform well enough to play and he appears to be on his way. Cook got Wednesday off but returned to limited practice Thursday. If he can do so again Friday, there is a good chance he will return this week.
Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos (groin): The groin can't be bothering him too much since he was able to practice fully both Wednesday and Thursday. It looks as if he'll be available in Week 4.
Other notesNew Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston does not appear on the injury report this week. He has been bothered by a case of plantar fasciitis that seemed to have limited him over the last two weeks. He played in Week 3 but had only three receptions for 40 yards. Perhaps his move off the injury report is a sign things are improving.
Don't forget to adjust your lineups! This is the first week of team byes. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts are off this week so they do not appear on the NFL official injury report.
Week 3 is in the books! What a week for injuries. Several players suffered season-ending injuries, including New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who tore his left ACL and is expected to undergo season-ending surgery within the next few weeks. The Dallas Cowboys lost defensive back Barry Church to a torn right Achilles tendon. And Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie, who was making his season debut after a delayed start because of concussion, suffered a season-ending patellar tendon rupture. Given Collie's extensive and serious injury history, his future in the NFL appears uncertain. As for the slate of other injuries, here's what we're looking at to start the week.
QuarterbacksMatthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (leg): Stafford told the Detroit Free Press after Sunday's game that he felt a pull in his hamstring or glute area and he just couldn't run at full power, hence his fourth-quarter exit. He also indicated this was something he'd felt earlier in the week during practice and then it flared up during the game. He was scheduled for an MRI on Monday, but there has been little in the way of specifics since. As is his routine, head coach Jim Schwartz offered nothing substantial, but he did tell reporters he would make a decision about Stafford's status by Friday.
Matt Schaub, Houston Texans (ear): This might be a first, listing "ear" as the injured body part. Schaub took a vicious hit that knocked his helmet off, and he immediately grabbed the side of his head. The reason, it turned out, was the helmet took a piece of his left ear with it when it sailed off his head. Schaub, remarkably, missed only one play. He also visited the locker room in the third quarter for X-rays on his left shoulder (which obviously came back negative). Bruised but not broken, Schaub was back in practice Monday, according to the Texans' official website. Looks like it will be business as usual come Sunday.
The Bills have not formally declared the nature of Spiller's injury, referring to it only as his shoulder. During an appearance on "The Fred Jackson Show" in Buffalo on Monday night, Spiller said when asked what the injury was being called, "I'm not sure yet." Spiller noted that he had undergone several tests but, most importantly, commented on how much improvement there had been in just over 24 hours. "Actually, I'm very surprised the movement that we have in it," Spiller said. "I got the full range of motion, which is really weird when you have an injury like I do."
Spiller remained guarded about his availability for Week 4. "I definitely want to get out there, but we also want to be smart about it." According to the Buffalo News, head coach Chan Gailey said Spiller was unlikely to play but added the Bills were "not going to completely rule him out."
Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (knee): Bush left Sunday's game against the Jets in the first half with a left knee injury. He was seen limping slightly, then riding the stationary bike later. Bush, who has an injury history that includes a sprained PCL, a torn meniscus, a fractured fibula (the latter to his right leg) and several arthroscopic knee surgeries, underwent an MRI on Monday to assess the damage. The good news is that there was no major damage to report, and Bush has not yet been ruled out for Week 4. Until he gets through some practice reps, he is not a lock to play, but this is certainly more encouraging than initially thought. Unfortunately, there is a potential cumulative toll of these injuries on Bush's knee health over the long haul.
Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (ribs): McGahee left Sunday's game against the Texans because of a rib injury. On Monday, the Denver Post reported McGahee's status as day-to-day according to head coach John Fox. Fox also indicated McGahee's injury involved the rib cartilage (which connects the ribs to the sternum). From a pain perspective, there isn't much difference. The ribs themselves can fracture, but the cartilage can also crack if the damage is significant enough. There are also numerous small muscles in the rib cage that can cause pain if bruised or torn. The problem with all of these injuries is they are often slow to completely heal, but the decision to play typically comes down to whether a player can perform in the presence of pain or not.
Wide ReceiversMiles Austin, Dallas Cowboys (rib): Austin left Sunday's game in the fourth quarter to get X-rays on his ribs. Clearly the results were negative since he returned to the game shortly thereafter and continued to add to his fantasy numbers. No one was talking about his hamstring or ribs after he posted more than 100 yards.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders (concussion/neck): The sight of any player lying motionless on the ground, then being spine boarded and transported to a hospital for evaluation, is frightening. The best news possible came the next day when it was announced that Heyward-Bey had been released from the hospital after suffering a neck strain and a concussion and that he is expected to make a full recovery. No fracture, no spinal cord injury. And no talk of football right now. As is the case with all athletes who sustain head injuries, Heyward Bey's progress will be monitored closely and his activity will be increased on a gradual basis.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs (elbow): McCluster landed awkwardly on an outstretched arm and his elbow appeared to buckle. He was in obvious pain and the medical staff tended to him briefly on the field before escorting him off. After the game, the Kansas City Star noted McCluster was in a sling, but the Chiefs have not offered a specific injury update since then. McCluster had been on the injury report the previous week with a shoulder injury. It would not be a surprise if he ends up missing at least this week.
Tight EndsJared Cook, Tennessee Titans (shoulder): Cook injured his shoulder late in the first half and it was reported by The Tennessean to be an AC sprain (see: C.J. Spiller note). Cook was in a sling following the game, but the Titans sound as if they expect him to be available in Week 4. Still, he'll need to show in practice that he can get his arm sufficiently elevated and absorb some contact through that side in order to play.
We're keeping an eye onAhmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants (neck): Bradshaw missed Week 3 with a neck injury and the team offered no details as to the specifics, including how much time he might miss. After visiting with team doctors Monday, however, Bradshaw, who had just received clearance to return to practice, tweeted the following: "Great news! Thanks everyone for ur thoughts and prayers. But u dnt understand, I'm Ready to rock #bigblue #health." Bradshaw's level of activity in practice this week should offer clues as to his readiness to return to play. Of course, teammate Andre Brown filled in admirably during Bradshaw's absence and he won't disappear completely when Bradshaw returns.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears (ankle): According to the Chicago Tribune, coach Lovie Smith says "hopefully" Forte will return to practice this week. That's still quite a ways removed from returning to play. The Bears are also working out running back Ryan Grant on Tuesday, according to ESPN Chicago.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): After sitting out Week 3 because of a hip injury, Maclin is expected to return to practice this week and be available Sunday.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants (foot): Nicks missed the Thursday night game in Week 3 because of soreness in his surgically repaired foot. After the extra rest, he is expected to return in Week 4.
If you're still alive in your fantasy playoffs, your new year is getting off to a good start. With a full slate of games on New Year's Day, you have 32 teams that could help crown you champion. Or, you could have 32 teams that combine to sink your season by resting their star players, particularly those who are at less than 100 percent health (who is at 100 percent health at this stage anyway?), in advance of the real playoffs or because they have no hope for the playoffs. Whom can you count on? We are in search of that answer as the final games of the 2011 regular season approach. Here's what we're hearing midweek.
Quick HitsTom Brady, QB, New England Patriots: This is the biggest nonstory story of the week. Brady took a number of hits to his nonthrowing (left) shoulder last week, and Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England reported that Brady underwent X-rays to rule out a shoulder separation. Apparently there were no significant findings, and after sitting out practice Wednesday (noninjury related, according to the Patriots), Brady was at least present for the portion of practice open to the media Thursday, although how much activity he did is unclear. It sounds as if the team is understandably conserving his stamina for Sunday, when the Patriots are playing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Brady has played through far worse, including, as many longtime fantasy players might remember, a sore throwing shoulder that had him on the injury report for record time. He will play Sunday, and while he perhaps would prefer not to take hard hits on his left shoulder, it should not affect his game.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Roethlisberger's high ankle sprain got an extra week of recovery when he sat out Week 16, and he now appears on track to play this Sunday. Roethlisberger was listed as a full participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and acknowledges that while he still has pain in the ankle, he is improving. Expect Roethlisberger to play Sunday, barring a setback. Whether he will play the entire game is impossible to predict at this stage, and it might ultimately depend on how his ankle responds that day.
Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans: Johnson has missed three games since suffering his second hamstring injury of the season and made it clear he wanted to get back into a regular-season game before heading into the playoffs. It appears he will get his wish, as Johnson has practiced this week and coach Gary Kubiak indicated he is in line to play Sunday. It appears the Texans do not plan to use Johnson the entire game, as Kubiak suggested they would aim for 15 to 20 plays. Who can blame them after the spate of severe injuries their key players have endured this season? So while they will support Johnson getting some in-game work, they are not likely to take excessive risk. The question for fantasy owners is whether a limited appearance from Johnson will translate to significant point production.
Roy Helu, RB, Washington Redskins: After being a pregame scratch in Week 16 because of a painful toe, Helu has returned to limited practice this week. He says he expects to play, but the combination of his being less than 100 percent and a nice performance last week by Evan Royster makes this week's outlook unclear.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants: Bradshaw has settled into a routine of not practicing early in the week but returning Friday and playing Sunday. It appears that could be the case again, and the Giants have everything to play for Sunday night.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: You probably are not in your fantasy championship if you were counting on McFadden to be back, since he now has gone 67 days without practicing. He is not headed to injured reserve, so there still is an opportunity if the Raiders make the playoffs. However, fantasy owners are left hoping for a full offseason recovery.
Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders: Ford now is back in practice on a limited basis. His participation on back-to-back days is encouraging, but it is not yet clear whether he will be in the lineup Sunday.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers: Starks did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, and his status for Sunday is looking grim. At this point, it's more important for the Packers to have him healthy for the playoffs, so do not plan on seeing him in Week 17.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Jones-Drew had an ankle injury heading into last week's game and managed to play through it. He has not practiced yet this week, but there seems to be little doubt that this is just rest in advance of Sunday's game.
Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins: Bush has had a resurgence of his career in Miami and wants to finish the season strong. His absence from practice both Wednesday and Thursday is a bit worrisome, considering he downplayed last week's injury to his right knee. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Bush is walking without a limp, but a knee injury to a running back with a history of knee issues is still concerning. If Bush is not practicing Friday, fantasy owners should be making alternate plans.
Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, WRs, New York Giants: On Saturday, Nicks aggravated the hamstring he injured earlier this season, and it kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. He made it clear he plans to play, however. According to ESPN New York, Nicks said, "It is all or nothing. It is playoffs now." That's not to say he'll be completely past it. Nicks and teammate Manningham both present some risk in that neither is expected to be completely beyond his injuries by the time Sunday rolls around. Manningham's struggles with swelling in his knee have been ongoing, but he turned in some limited work Wednesday and Thursday. Coach Tom Coughlin seems encouraged that Manningham will be available for this critical matchup.
Kevin Smith, RB, and Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions: Smith's ankle is still in recovery mode, but he has turned in full practices this week. As noted Tuesday, the Lions signed Joique Bell from the practice squad, so it is difficult to assess just how Sunday's lineup will shape up. Johnson is listed on the injury report with an Achilles injury and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. There has been no indication that there is anything major to be concerned about regarding his health but his status for Sunday is unclear. While the Lions have made it sound as if it will be business as usual, it's hard to imagine their starters not being removed early at the very least, as this game does not hold much value (they're playing to keep the 5-seed in the playoffs).
Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert, RBs, San Diego Chargers: Not what fantasy owners want to see -- both Chargers running backs returned to the injury report. Mathews, again listed with a calf injury, sat out Wednesday but was back to limited practice Thursday, suggesting he'll be available Sunday. Tolbert, however, was out both Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury, and his status is less certain.
See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. ET, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 17 in the Saturday morning blog.
Congratulations to all who took home the championship trophy in Week 16 and, frankly, to all who gutted out the season, regardless of how you ended up placing in your league(s). We appreciate those who play hard right up until the bitter end. Speaking of which, a number of fantasy leagues take their championship matches right through the bitter end, otherwise known as Week 17, seeking a challenge by playing in a week where teams may alter their rosters either because they have nothing to lose or everything to gain by fielding backups. If you're playing for glory this Sunday, then the injury news is of import, but be forewarned: The picture of who sits and who starts may be even cloudier with the playoffs looming next month.
Working in Peterson's favor are his youth (he is 26 years old with only five NFL seasons under his belt), his physical fitness and his work ethic. He has also shown resilience in responding to past injuries that were expected to either keep him down longer or potentially hint at future problems. While a junior in college at Oklahoma, Peterson broke his clavicle, which forced him to miss the last seven weeks of the season. He entered the NFL the following year with some concern about whether the collarbone would be a problem. It was not. In Peterson's first NFL season (2007), he did suffer a less common knee ligament sprain, a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury (incidentally, which was to his right knee). Not only was Peterson back on the field within three weeks, the knee healed well and did not prove to be a liability going forward. In fact, since that time, Peterson had missed only one game until suffering a left high ankle sprain just five weeks ago. Peterson returned in Week 15 after missing three games, but just one short week later, his world turned upside down with this latest injury.
Peterson will be challenged to return to form in 2012. There is no reason at this moment to believe he cannot be back to playing football next season. It is also reasonable, however, to allow for the possibility that it will take some time for him to show the explosiveness and aggressive style for which he is known. It's not just the physical recovery; there is the mental aspect of regaining confidence in a leg that has been severely damaged, believing it will hold up to the physical demands of the game, including, of course, the contact it will naturally be expected to absorb. Not only do the stats show that players typically perform better in the second year following reconstructive knee surgery, but athletes will often say it takes a year of playing on that leg until they get their "feel" back or until they believe they are playing like themselves again.
At this point, we simply wish Peterson well on his road to recovery and hope for positive updates along the way.
All the games for Week 17 will come your way Sunday, with the season ending that night with New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East title.
• Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones was removed from Saturday's game as soon as the announcement came that the New York Giants had won (rendering the Cowboys' game essentially meaningless). The good news for Jones is that his hamstring held up for the four carries he managed, but the rest he got afterward probably served him better. Expect Jones to be ready to go this weekend.
• The bigger question for the Cowboys this week might be the status of quarterback Tony Romo, who hit his right (throwing) hand against Jason Babin's helmet Saturday, causing the hand to swell to roughly twice its normal size. Fortunately, tests were negative for any fracture and, presuming the swelling resolves enough to allow Romo to function effectively, he will indeed play Sunday night. Coach Jason Garrett, a former quarterback who innately understands the physical demands of the position, captured the issue perfectly when he spoke to reporters Monday. "I don't think it's that complicated," Garrett said. "Can you take a snap? Can you grip the ball? Can you throw it? What's the ball look like when you throw it? Can you hand off? Quarterbacks that have had injuries in the past, and really, it's a functional type thing. ... How accurate is he when he's throwing it? Does everything have to be perfect for him to throw it well? Because, as you know, that position is a spontaneous one and he's certainly a spontaneous quarterback. So we'll evaluate all those things as the week goes on." And that pretty well sums it up.
• It is unclear whether the Pittsburgh Steelers will have Ben Roethlisberger under center Sunday or whether there will be another Charlie Batch sighting. Roethlisberger sat out Week 16 to rest his left ankle following a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 14. Roethlisberger played the Monday night game in Week 15 but struggled to step into his throws and was clearly limited in his mobility. There won't be any clues as to a decision until the Steelers can evaluate what Roethlisberger can do in practice.
• New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore was questionable coming into Monday night's game because of a sore hamstring injured late last week in practice. He did end up playing but didn't last through the first half, as the injury forced him out in the second quarter. It remains to be seen whether he will be well enough to play Sunday.
• Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith played Saturday and posted decent fantasy numbers, but at times looked to be struggling with his right ankle. The Lions signed running back Joique Bell on Monday, which certainly gives pause as to Smith's availability for this week. With the playoffs looming, it would seem the Lions would not want to risk Smith's health for when it is most needed. Fantasy owners may want to avail themselves of other options.
• Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush injured his right leg late in Saturday's game, but the non-specific injury appears mild. As Bush told the Palm Beach Post, "I don't think it's serious. I mean, I'm walking." Good point. So far, there's no indication Bush will be forced to miss this week's game. Meanwhile teammate Anthony Fasano missed Week 16 due to a concussion. He will need to be medically cleared to return to practice before his game status can be evaluated.
• Green Bay Packers running back James Starks suffered yet another setback with his injured right ankle. It's tough to imagine him playing this week when the Packers' biggest goal might be trying to maximize the health of their team going into the playoffs.
• And finally, if you were holding out any hope for the return of either Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler or running back Matt Forte, you can now let it go. The Bears officially ended their seasons Tuesday, and they can focus on getting healthy for next year.
It's the last week of the NFL regular season and for many fantasy players, this is the grand finale. Week 17 always presents unique challenges as many NFL teams with secure playoff bids opt to rest key players, leaving fantasy owners scrambling to set their final rosters. This year there are some NFL teams whose playoff hopes are still barely alive or who could (or should) be playing for pride, but injuries may still force their starters to rest. And in what could be the worst scenario for fantasy owners, some teams are considering starting their main players to keep them in the rhythm of game preparation and competition, but how much playing time they get is anyone's guess.
The Florida Times-Union reports Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has undergone surgery to repair a torn ligament in the middle finger of his right (throwing) hand and faces a two-month recovery. Trent Edwards is poised to start in his absence. ... The Cincinnati Bengals announced via Twitter that wide receiver Chad Ochocinco will not make the trip to Baltimore because of his ankle. And, as a reminder, San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates should not be on anyone's fantasy roster (if you were hoping for a miracle) as the team has placed him on injured reserve. At least savvy fantasy owners can get a jump on picking up unclaimed backups or other more appealing free-agent alternates for these players.
While the Week 17 fates have already been decided for some, there are many others still on the fence. Here's who else you might be concerned about heading into Sunday's games:
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks: On Tuesday, we outlined the injury concern for Hasselbeck and the team's plans to proceed as if Charlie Whitehurst will be under center. Hasselbeck clearly wants to play in Sunday night's game, and although he was not able to practice Wednesday or Thursday, he is rehabbing diligently with Sunday's goal in mind. As Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times reports, coach Pete Carroll thinks it's unlikely Hasselbeck will play but acknowledges the door is still open. "I'm totally convinced that he's waging a battle that's against the odds," said Carroll. "He's going to make a miracle comeback if he can." This could come down to a game-time decision.
Jon Kitna, Dallas Cowboys: According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Kitna, who is dealing with a left abdominal oblique injury, says that all movement feels "like you have a knife in your side." As he sat out practice Wednesday, Kitna still held out hope for a Sunday return, but the pain he is experiencing certainly casts doubt on whether he will be able to throw the ball effectively. If Kitna does not play, Stephen McGee will get his first career start.
Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Most fantasy owners would not rely on Favre to help them win their championship Sunday even if he does suit up. But they might consider Joe Webb, thus making Favre's injury status relevant. Favre has yet to pass required post-concussion tests, making it unlikely he'll play Sunday. Even beyond passing those tests, Favre would need to return to a graded exercise progression to be sure his symptoms did not recur with physical exertion. The window for Favre to be able to play is closing simply because of the narrow time factor. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Favre could repeat the tests Thursday or Friday and coach Leslie Frazier has not ruled him out for Sunday's game. Stay tuned, folks. By now everyone should know things can come down to the wire in Minnesota.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills: The Bills quarterback has missed two days of practice because of his knee and it's starting to raise concern about his availability for Sunday. Fitzpatrick has been sore for quite some time but the back-to-back missed practices are more troublesome. Brian Brohm has been practicing with the first team in his absence. Friday should be telling in forecasting who will start for the Bills.
Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns: Hillis did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, allowing his sore ribs some rest after taking a shot in the back Sunday. It sounds as if the Browns plan to have Hillis available to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their best chance for that is to rest him during the week.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders: Listed on the official NFL injury report with a "toe" ailment, McFadden's status for Sunday is unclear. He did not practice Wednesday and the Oakland Tribune listed "ankle" next to his name as the reason. (On Tuesday, we noted there were conflicting reports about the nature of McFadden's injury.) The Tribune notes that McFadden participated in the morning walkthrough Thursday, suggesting he would practice, but his activity level remains to be seen. According to Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Tom Cable says McFadden could be a game-time decision.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Moreno managed to see some playing time in Week 16 but left the game early after aggravating his rib injury. Moreno did not practice Wednesday but was expected to practice Thursday in an effort to gear up for Week 17. After Correll Buckhalter's Week 16 effort, however, Sunday could turn into a time-share situation, especially if Moreno is less than 100 percent.
Chris Ivory and Reggie Bush, New Orleans Saints: Ivory has been on the road to recovery from a hamstring injury for the past two weeks but has not been quite ready to play. Week 17 could be different as Ivory returned to full practice Thursday. Bush was listed on this week's injury report with a "chest" injury (SC joint per NFL Network) but practiced fully Thursday and does not appear in danger of missing Sunday's game.
Wide ReceiversAndre Johnson, Houston Texans: Coach Gary Kubiak announced early in the week that Johnson would not practice (he has not) and that Johnson would indicate whether he is able to play (he has not ... yet). Fantasy owners will likely be waiting until the bitter end to find out whether Johnson can indeed play against the Jaguars. As of now, there is no real hint which way the cards will fall, but Johnson is a competitor who will not give up simply because the Texans are out of the playoff race. Expect him to play if he feels he can contribute, but have a backup plan in place.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: In what likely comes as a surprise to many, Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports Colston underwent an arthroscopic surgical procedure on his knee Tuesday, according to coach Sean Payton. Duncan says the Saints are listing Colston as questionable, but fantasy owners should plan on him being absent for Sunday's game, just five days after surgery.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles: Jackson did not practice Thursday because of his sore foot and it is looking as if he may not play this weekend. This could be another blow to those who might have been counting on some big points from this big playmaker. While the Eagles have not yet ruled Jackson out, fantasy owners would be wise to plan for a substitution.
Sidney Rice, Minnesota Vikings: It's not a setback with the hip but a concussion he suffered in Tuesday night's game that has Rice on the injury report. He did not practice Thursday and with the short week has less recovery time than normal. Rice has not yet been ruled out for Week 17 but fantasy owners should prepare for that possibility.
Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions: Although Johnson has not practiced this week because of a sprained ankle, he is still holding out hope he can play Sunday. Johnson told the Detroit Free Press he is "just taking it day by day," undergoing treatment and trying to ready himself for the game against the Vikings. On Tuesday, we noted that Lions coach Jim Schwartz had said Johnson could miss practice and still play. It would be nice to see Johnson on the field by Friday, however, as reassurance.
Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers: It looked to be all but certain that Floyd would miss Week 17 with his still ailing hamstring injury, now his second of the season. But Floyd showed up in practice Wednesday, albeit on a limited basis, enough to suggest he could be available for the Chargers' finale. Wait to see if Floyd can get through an entire week of practice without a setback before getting comfortable with him in your lineup.
Tight EndsTodd Heap, Baltimore Ravens: He returned to full practice Wednesday and Thursday, just in time to encourage fantasy owners for Week 17. It looks as if Heap is on track to play Sunday barring a setback.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots: Hernandez has been a limited participant in practice this week because of a hip injury. After missing Week 16, fantasy owners should be advised that despite returning to practice, Hernandez could still be held out of the game.
Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints: Shockey missed practice Thursday because of a groin injury. Jimmy Graham has clearly developed a rapport with quarterback Drew Brees and may be the better fantasy start, even if Shockey plays.
Have a Happy New Year and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 17 in the Saturday morning blog!
This week's Thursday night matchup has the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Houston Texans.
Tight end Owen Daniels already has been ruled out for the Texans, meaning Joel Dreessen should get another start. Despite being listed on the injury report with a knee issue, Dreessen participated fully in practice Tuesday and Wednesday and is listed as probable. Quarterback Matt Schaub also is listed as probable because of his knee. He practiced fully each day and will start.
For the Eagles, one of the biggest health concerns is on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Asante Samuel has a sprained left medial collateral ligament that kept him out of Week 12, and he was limited in practice throughout this week. Signs are pointing toward him playing Thursday night despite being listed as questionable, although he might not be 100 percent. Samuel will be a game-time decision. Running back LeSean McCoy has been playing through a shoulder injury and, listed as probable, likely will do so again.
Here's who you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 13 showdowns:
In the immediate sense, Roethlisberger has taken steps toward playing in Week 13. He shed the boot only long enough to participate in a limited practice session Wednesday, but the term "limited" might be a bit misleading. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said, "I only missed probably 10-15 snaps," adding, "It hurts because it's my plant foot, my right foot." While Roethlisberger acknowledges the discomfort, he remains confident in his ability to be able to play Sunday night, especially after putting in another practice Thursday. The Post-Gazette notes that Roethlisberger also is wearing a reinforced shoe to accommodate the foot when on the field. The shoe provides support but also limits flexibility, which can help decrease the pain associated with excess motion. Adapting to how the foot feels along with the modified shoe is perhaps the biggest key, so seeing Roethlisberger on the field early in the week is a very encouraging sign.
Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans: Collins has been recovering from a calf strain, and with Vince Young on injured reserve, that has forced Rusty Smith into action. But this might be the week Collins returns to lead the offense. He was able to put in limited practice Wednesday followed by a full practice Thursday. In the absence of a setback, expect Collins to take the field Sunday.
Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings: Add another ailment for Favre. Now his neck has been added to the already-listed ankle and shoulder. Favre sat out Wednesday but returned to limited practice Thursday, and I think we all know by now that he is planning on playing Sunday.
Running BacksAdrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings: Not surprisingly, Peterson did not practice Wednesday as he rested his sprained ankle. On Thursday, Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Peterson continues to rest the ankle and receive treatment but plans to test the ankle Friday. According to Zulgad, Peterson indicates the swelling has subsided some and he does note improvement. "I know my body better than anyone else," Peterson said, adding, "If I can go, I'll definitely be going." That's a sight fantasy owners would like to see. It certainly sounds as if there's reason to be optimistic, but Friday practice will yield better clues.
Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert, San Diego Chargers: Mathews' return to the practice field is an encouraging signal he is nearing a return. He has missed the past two weeks while recovering from the setback to his high ankle sprain, originally suffered in Week 2.
Tolbert has filled in ably with Mathews down, but he suffered a hand injury of his own in Week 12. He did not practice Wednesday but, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, that was a precautionary measure. If both backs are available this week, there is going to be a sharing of the workload. Fantasy owners would like to have an idea in advance as to just how that workload will be divided, but unfortunately, that's not likely to happen.
If we go by recent past events, when Mathews was working his way back after the initial ankle injury, his time on the field was significantly limited. It's hard to imagine, particularly with the way Tolbert has performed, that Mathews would see the bulk of the carries right out of the gate, but there are new variables to consider. Tolbert has a hand injury, and although the specifics have not been revealed, there are always concerns about ballhandling when the hand, fingers or thumb are involved. Mathews, who had some rookie issues of his own along with the high ankle sprain, was guarded in terms of playing time after the injury. This might just be a scenario that plays out during the game, assuming both backs are available.
Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins: Torain is still out with a hamstring strain and has not returned to practice as of yet. He has made some progress in that he is doing some running on the side, but he doesn't appear far enough along to return this week. Last week, Keiland Williams saw his playing time cut into by James Davis. The bottom line for fantasy owners is that it's hard to know whom to count on in Washington for the running game.
Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints: Bush returned from his fibula fracture for the Saints' Thanksgiving Day game but was used in a limited role. A fumble during a punt return exposed the potential problems associated with extended downtime, but at least Bush's leg held up. Bush says he is feeling "great," according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and should see more work going forward. Teammate Thomas has returned to practice on a limited basis, the most encouraging progress in weeks, but still is likely another week or two away from returning.
Wide ReceiversBrandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins: Marshall has returned to limited practice for the Dolphins this week. He sat out Week 12 with a hamstring injury suffered during the previous game but has been able to do some work on back-to-back days. Hamstring injuries can be delicate for receivers and running backs, however, so until game time comes and Marshall is in the mix, there remains some uncertainty. Even if Marshall is on the field, the question first is whether he will be able to go full speed and then how his body is able to respond to that higher gear. Still a bit risky from a health perspective.
Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers: The above noted concern for Marshall is exactly what Floyd experienced when he first returned from a hamstring injury. Floyd tweaked his hamstring in his first game back from injury (Week 11), and while it did not appear to be a major setback, his role was limited in last week's game as a result. Floyd did not practice Wednesday but returned Thursday and is still considered in the mix for the matchup against the Oakland Raiders.
Gates did not practice Wednesday in an effort to rest his foot and might not practice the entire week. At this point, he is no lock to play Sunday, but knowing Gates, he will give himself every opportunity to at least give it a shot. This might come down to another game-time decision.
Zach Miller, Oakland Raiders: Miller recently revealed that he, like his division counterpart Gates, tore his plantar fascia. This would explain why it has been so difficult for Miller to play effectively since the injury. His playing time has been limited by arch pain that increases as the game goes on. Last week, he added a contusion to his lower leg to his injury report.
A few days ago, it seemed as if Miller might be in danger of missing time again, but Wednesday he was spotted in practice, albeit on a limited basis. Interestingly, the Chargers host the Raiders this Sunday, and one of the top fantasy questions this week surrounds the two star tight ends who are dealing with similar injury concerns. Will they or won't they take the field? As both Gates and Miller know, their status at kickoff is only a part of the issue. Whether or not they can make it through the game is a far more challenging prospect and something Miller has not been able to do of late.
• Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice sat out Thursday, but this is likely precautionary to rest his surgical hip (Rice did not practice last Thursday, either). Percy Harvin was out with an illness, a term the team has used in the past when Harvin has had migraine episodes. It sounds like the headaches have surfaced again in what has become a routine of wait-and-see.
• Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt has returned to limited practice, but fantasy owners need not get overexcited just yet. Britt began some light running last week and had progressed enough to return to a very small amount of practice. But given the seriousness of his hamstring injury (remember, the Titans were relieved to discover his season was not over when he first was injured in Week 7), there is no reason to believe the Titans will rush him back into action, especially given the high likelihood of a setback. Fantasy owners should not expect him before Week 14.
• Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Mike Williams, who has an injured foot, did some running Wednesday but still has not returned to practice. This will be a situation to watch through the end of the week, as he could be another game-time decision.
• Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday to rest his ankle. Sims-Walker was a surprise active in Week 12 after reporting his injury as a high ankle sprain. Although he appeared limited in that game, it's hard to imagine he sits this one out.
• Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was a late addition to the injury report Thursday, listed as limited because of his back. While there is no indication yet that he will miss Sunday's game, what he does Friday will be telling.
• The Detroit Lions are placing kicker Jason Hanson (sprained knee) on injured reserve, which means Dave Rayner has the job going forward. The Lions also will have another quarterback this week. Drew Stanton has been practicing with the first team to get ready for Week 13 -- and probably longer -- as Shaun Hill is out with a broken finger on his throwing hand. That's two broken bones this season for Hill. Hope he's drinking some milk.
See you at Friday's injury chat at 3 p.m. ET. We'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 13 in the Saturday morning blog.
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers continues to show that he can get the job done no matter who steps in to take his handoffs or catch his passes. In front of millions on "Monday Night Football," Rivers delivered a star performance with running back Ryan Mathews, wide receiver Legedu Naanee and tight end Antonio Gates all watching from the sidelines. Mike Tolbert handled the bulk of the running game (and likely will again in Week 12) and fresh-off-the-injury-report Malcom Floyd did his part to contribute to the passing game with a couple of catches and a score (although according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Floyd tweaked his hamstring again, so stay tuned).
But how will Eli Manning adjust to the loss of another star wide receiver in the span of a week? The New York Giants, who recently saw Steve Smith go down with a partially torn pectoral muscle, have now lost Hakeem Nicks to a case of compartment syndrome in his right leg. Compartment syndrome is typically something that develops over time (chronic) but it can be brought on suddenly (acute), as was the case with Nicks, by trauma. Nicks reportedly was hit in the leg at some point during Sunday's game, according to ESPN New York, but was able to play into the fourth quarter. When Nicks arrived at the team facility on Monday, coach Tom Coughlin said the medical staff felt the need to "take immediate action." Nicks then went to the hospital and underwent a fasciotomy, a procedure whereby tissue is released surgically to alleviate pressure on blood vessels and nerves in the area.
The Giants have indicated that Nicks will miss the next three weeks following his fasciotomy. Time to recover from such a procedure can vary from several weeks to a couple of months, depending on the extent of the procedure, how well the wound heals, and whether there are any complications along the way. It should be noted that most acute compartment syndromes are associated with significant trauma, such as fractures or crush injuries. Sometimes in sports, however, there can be a direct blow that results in a hematoma (collection of blood), which in turn creates significant localized swelling and pressure. This may be the origin of Nicks' injury. Assuming no prior history of compartment issues for Nicks, the three-week timetable would seem reasonable, assuming no setbacks. During the first week, Nicks will do very little, but as he is able to increase his activity, we should get a better idea of whether he will meet the projected timetable.
Plenty of other teams continue to adjust to injury situations and this week some have only a few days to do so. With the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be three NFL games Thursday. The Detroit Lions host the New England Patriots for the early game. Then the New Orleans Saints visit the Dallas Cowboys followed by the New York Jets welcoming the Cincinnati Bengals. Given the short week for those teams, their initial practice injury reports were issued Monday (usually they do not come out until Wednesday). For key fantasy players in Thanksgiving Day games, here's what we know about their early-week activity.
Detroit Lions: The Lions had only a walk-through Monday but still provided practice report "estimates." Among those who would not have practiced were running back Jahvid Best, quarterback Matthew Stafford, tight end Tony Scheffler and kicker Jason Hanson.
The Lions' dire situation at running back has been compounded by the loss of Kevin Smith to injured reserve. Smith, who had just started to emerge following his ACL reconstruction of last year, is now recovering from thumb surgery. Nonetheless, it's hard to imagine Best being even close to ready for a full game Thursday when his pattern has been one of not practicing until late in the week. And as we saw last week, that schedule still was not enough to allow him to perform on Sunday. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports that Best was in practice Tuesday, yet he still expects Maurice Morris to be the No.1 back this week.
As far as the other injured Lions, no one really expects to see Stafford anytime soon, if at all, this season, so his absence comes as no surprise. Scheffler injured his ribs in the second quarter of Sunday's game, according to the Detroit News, and is anything but certain to play. Hanson is recovering from an MCL sprain and his status for Thursday is still up in the air.
New England Patriots:The Patriots also conducted only a walk-through Monday but reported several players as limited, including quarterback Tom Brady and running back Fred Taylor. Brady, who is still listed on the report because of his foot along with his shoulder, will continue to play as anticipated. Based on his recent performances, it's hard to see the foot as a limitation. As far as Taylor, he returned to limited practice with his team a couple of weeks ago and is awaiting the green light to see playing time. Taylor seems to be as in the dark about when that will be as anyone else. The Patriots' running game appears to be in good hands so the team may elect to guard Taylor's use, even once he has been activated for game day.
It will be interesting to see how the Saints utilize him in his return outing. But with Bush champing at the bit to return, and the Saints feeling as if they're getting him back in good shape, he could provide a spark to the offense. Meanwhile, Pierre Thomas is not looking as if he'll play Thursday. There are conflicting reports about the exact nature of his ankle injury but the Picayune reports that Payton maintains Thomas' injury is a sprain. Either way, it appears that his return will not come before December.
Tight end Jeremy Shockey sat out Week 11 because of a rib injury and has been a limited participant in practice so far this week. Whether he will play on Thursday or not is not yet determined.
Dallas Cowboys: It's interesting that there has been so much chatter about the recent X-rays taken of Tony Romo's left clavicle fracture, as if there were some hope of a full recovery. Most bones require six weeks for fracture healing, with actual remodeling of bone continuing well beyond that point. Add to that the fact that the clavicle is notoriously slow to heal, and four weeks -- which is how much time has passed since Romo's injury -- would not likely be enough to demonstrate full bone repair. It's certainly possible that the clavicle showed some progression in healing and that's often why X-rays are taken at an interim stage, to assess how the bone is shaping up. The bottom line is if anyone was expecting Romo to return to the lineup sooner than the original minimum six-week projection, it's not going to happen. Eight to 10 weeks has been the more reasonable healing timetable estimate all along, but it is not guaranteed, and the team may decide it is not worth risk of reinjury to have him appear again this season.
Of more immediate concern, running back Felix Jones is still dealing with a hip ailment and spent Tuesday working with the rehab staff, according to The Dallas Morning News. Jones, who injured his hip Sunday yet returned to the game, did not practice Monday but said he was "doing better," according to the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram. We'll see how the team designates him for Thursday's game, but resting early in a short week may give him the best chance to play on Thanksgiving.
Cincinnati Bengals: Running back Cedric Benson came into Week 11 with a foot injury but it did not appear to hamper him during the game. At one point, Benson was forced out with an eye injury but he was able to return. He should be available Thursday.
New York Jets: Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery had a groin strain that kept him sidelined in Week 11. ESPN New York's Rich Cimini reports that Cotchery is doing light positional drills Tuesday but is still "iffy" for Thursday's game. As we've seen in the past, groin injuries are not only difficult to overcome, they are easy to aggravate. It would not be surprising if Cotchery is out again this week.
Here's who else we're talking about heading into the rest of the Week 12 contests:
• Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, who injured his knee in Week 10, practiced Monday after serving as the emergency quarterback last Thursday. While the Dolphins have not yielded any information as to the specifics of the injury, the fact that Henne is participating in some level of practice is encouraging, but we'll have to see how the team designates him later in the week. Tyler Thigpen may still be at the helm.
• The Tennessee Titans had a bizarre weekend but we'll stick to the injuries. Vince Young has now been placed on injured reserve as he is expected to undergo thumb surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon. Kerry Collins is still recovering from a calf strain, which was initially projected to keep him out for several weeks, and is not expected to be ready for this Sunday. Thus, Rusty Smith is likely to start at quarterback in Week 12 after stepping in last week when Young was injured. The Titans have signed Chris Simms as insurance.
• Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie left the Week 11 game early for what the Colts called "precautionary reasons." Collie, who was returning to play two weeks after suffering a concussion, took some big hits in last week's game. He is not expected to play in Week 12. Running back Joseph Addai is still considered day to day, as he has been essentially since the injury occurred. In other words, fantasy owners can't plan for a scheduled return.
• Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen says he expects to be available in Week 12. Both he and running back Jonathan Stewart will need to receive medical clearance to return to practice, and their status will not be known until later this week.
We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no chats on Friday. But check back for the latest injury updates affecting Week 12 in the Saturday morning blog! Happy and healthy Thanksgiving everyone!
Week 11 kicks off with another Thursday night game, and the effect of injury is obvious in the Miami Dolphins' starting lineup. This past Sunday, the Dolphins lost quarterback Chad Pennington, who started ahead of a benched Chad Henne, in the first offensive series to another season-ending shoulder injury. Henne then stepped into the game only to leave with a knee injury that had him on crutches afterward. While the Dolphins have left the door open for Henne to return, it doesn't appear that will be anytime soon ... and it certainly won't be tonight. Tyler Thigpen will be the starting quarterback as the Dolphins host the Chicago Bears.
Meanwhile, there also is some question as to who will be protecting Thigpen's blind side. Offensive tackle Jake Long injured his shoulder in Week 10, reportedly dislocating it and suffering significant tissue damage, including a torn labrum (the ring of cartilage that adds stability to the shoulder joint), in the process. Not only is this a painful injury, but it means Long's shoulder will be significantly less stable, and that instability will make it difficult to block effectively. An unstable shoulder will feel like it slips out of place, especially when weight is forced through the arm. Long is expected to try wearing a shoulder harness for support, which offers some stability but also, out of necessity, limits motion, making it tough for Long to use his arm as he normally would. He is listed as questionable, so it will come down to game time to see whether Long can function well enough to play.
This week marks the first non-bye week since Week 3, so theoretically there are more players available for last-minute fantasy pickups. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, there also are far more injuries of significance, so the pickings might be a little slimmer.
Here's who you might be concerned about heading toward the Week 11 showdowns:
Addai was said to be feeling better last week but was not in Wednesday practice. However, he did return to limited practice Thursday. Addai suffered a neck injury several weeks ago, which he described as leaving his arm feeling "dead," suggesting nerve involvement. Nerve tissue generally is slow to heal, as clearly has been the case for Addai. Hart, who injured his ankle in Week 9, has been essentially invisible since then and was still not at practice Wednesday. It appears Donald Brown could be in line for another start at running back this week.
Tamme, who was dealing with a back injury last week and reportedly was in major discomfort after Week 10, was not only a full participant in practice Wednesday, but he was not on the team's injury report. If he holds up well through the remainder of the week, he should be on the field Sunday when the Colts face the New England Patriots.
Reggie Bush, RB; Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans Saints: Bush is expected to return at long last after missing all but the first two games of the season due to a broken fibula (the long skinny bone on the outer aspect of the lower leg). Fractures typically take about six weeks to heal, but regaining football shape, especially for an explosive, directional runner such as Bush, takes much longer, as he and his fantasy owners found out. The bye in Week 10 allowed Bush the extra time to build toward returning to practice in advance of this Sunday's game.
Thomas is not yet practicing with the team. The Saints continue to hold out hope he will recover enough from his ankle injury to contribute late in the season. Along those lines, coach Sean Payton issued the first positive words with regard to Thomas' recovery on Thursday, telling the New Orleans Times-Picayune, "I think we've turned a corner." Although Thomas is not doing team practice, he is working out on the field in pads, meaning he is putting his ankle through some of the necessary paces, just in the absence of traffic where it would be easier to aggravate it. While it doesn't appear that Thomas will bridge the gap to being ready for this week, it's starting to sound like he could be a late-season contributor for the Saints and for needy fantasy owners.
Ryan Mathews, RB; Malcom Floyd, WR; Legedu Naanee, WR; Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers: We start with the good news in San Diego that Floyd's return is imminent. Floyd, who suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, has been back at practice and has been running full speed since last week. Assuming there are no setbacks, Floyd is expected to play Sunday.
And then there is the not so good news. Rookie running back Mathews suffered a setback to his right ankle in Week 10, and it appears he might be forced to take some time off. Not a bad idea, given that Mathews has struggled intermittently since the initial injury to get his ankle back to full strength. Meanwhile, Naanee had not improved enough from his hamstring injury to rejoin his teammates in practice, although he did do some individual drills, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Gates, who recently assessed his chances of playing Monday night at 50-50, did not practice with the team Wednesday, not altogether surprising given his injury, a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. He has made some progress, though, as he has begun light running, a big step considering how much load that places on his injured arch. Gates admits being frustrated by this injury, which has sidelined him for the first time in his professional career, but he might not have much choice other than to wait for more healing.
Johnson is expected to continue his routine of resting his sore ankle early in the week and playing Sunday. Daniels, who sat out last week after aggravating his hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday.
Brett Favre, QB; Percy Harvin, WR; Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings: By now, everyone knows Favre's ailments are too numerous to all be included on the Vikings' weekly injury report. By now, everyone also expects Favre to play, regardless of what's ailing him. After the Week 10 contest, Favre told ESPN's Ed Werder that he had concerns about the health of his right (throwing) shoulder and acknowledged having increased pain that might have affected his performance. Within a couple of days and amid some confusion as to whether this was a serious issue, Favre's own level of concern seemed to subside. After all, his is not a pristine shoulder, despite surgery last year to address a partially torn biceps tendon. It's going to be painful and problematic from time to time. No doubt Favre has recently increased the strain on his shoulder, whether as a function of compensating for the elbow pain he's been experiencing, the limitations in his ankle or both, and the pain is a natural secondary effect. The temporary solution will continue to be limited work early in the week with the goal of playing Sundays.
Harvin continues to play through pain and discomfort, even when his practice reps are limited during the week. Harvin put in limited reps Wednesday and is again expected to play this week.
This reluctance to return before feeling fully healthy is not surprising and is a common issue for athletes coming off major surgery. It's an interesting quandary for an athlete in Rice's situation, and he already has said he does not want to return in a limited capacity. Rice knows what type of statistics he put up last season. He doesn't want to come back and be a lesser player after surgery or risk reinjury. And there's no denying his future is at stake. If Rice comes back a step slow or a bit hesitant because of lack of confidence in his leg or, worse yet, suffers even a minor setback, he potentially hurts the team now and himself down the road.
Even with those considerations, it's hard to imagine Rice not playing at all unless he truly believes he is not fully healthy. But the deadline for him to be activated in order to be eligible to play this season is next Wednesday. Whether he will meet that target is unclear.
DeAngelo Williams, RB; Jonathan Stewart, RB; Jimmy Clausen QB, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers lost Williams to injured reserve this week because of a foot injury. According to coach John Fox, Williams would have needed another couple of weeks to get healthy and the team needed the roster spot. No doubt, since the Panthers have dealt with a multitude of injuries, especially at the running back and quarterback position.
Stewart, who suffered a concussion in Week 9 that kept him out of the Week 10 lineup, has not practiced this week and is unlikely to play. It appears Mike Goodson will make another start. At the quarterback position, Clausen, starting for the injured Matt Moore, suffered a concussion in Week 10 and has not practiced. In what some considered a bit of a surprise move, Fox indicated that Brian St. Pierre, who has just one week of practice with the Panthers, will be the starter this week as opposed to rookie Tony Pike.
Vince Young, QB; Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee Titans: Collins suffered a calf strain in Week 10 when he started in place of the less-than-100 percent-healthy Young. Collins is expected to miss several weeks, so the question becomes: Will Young be healthy enough to effectively lead the team this Sunday? Apparently, the answer is yes. Young, who has been trying to get past an ankle injury, was not on Wednesday's injury report, so expect him to be the starter in Week 11.
Tom Brady, QB, Fred Taylor, RB, New England Patriots: Brady had a foot sprain that caused him to miss practice one day last week. You knew it had to be bothering him because Brady rarely sits out. But it sure didn't look like it bothered him Sunday when he was tearing apart the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Assume that Brady will be at the helm when his team faces the Indianapolis Colts this week.
As for Taylor, he seems to be making gains in his recovery from toe injuries, as he increased his practice activity last week. Keep an eye on him, as he just might be available to help out in the next couple of weeks.
And elsewhere ...
• The Detroit Lions got wide receiver Calvin Johnson back in practice Thursday after a day of rest. Running back Jahvid Best skipped both Wednesday and Thursday practices, a reminder that his turf toe injuries are not completely behind him. Best likely will continue to play but has not shown his early-season form since the toe problems came about.
• Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has been in practice this week despite cracking a bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist. There seems to be little doubt that he will be running the offense Sunday.
• Washington Redskins running back Ryan Torain has not practiced since his hamstring tightened up Monday night, preventing him from taking the field despite being active. It certainly does not look good for Sunday. Clinton Portis continues to be limited in practice with the groin injury. All signs are pointing to another Keiland Williams start.
• New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith suffered a pectoral (chest) strain a week ago and missed this past Sunday's contest as a result. Reports have varied on the amount of time he's expected to miss, but he is not practicing yet and should not be in fantasy lineups this week.
• Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy did not practice Wednesday due to a shoulder injury. He was back Thursday, however, a good sign for fantasy owners that he expects to play.
• On the concussion front, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward suffered one in Week 10, as did Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki. Ward was cleared to return to practice and participated fully Wednesday. Barring a setback, he should play this week. Moeaki did not practice Wednesday, and his status remains questionable.
• Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini said early in the week that he was hopeful receiver Josh Cribbs could play Sunday despite dislocating four toes last week. Apparently Mangini has not had four toes dislocate simultaneously. And then tried to run. Fast. It sounded a bit optimistic at the time, and Cribbs has not been in practice this week. It's not looking great for his return as of now.
See you at Friday's injury chat (3-4 p.m. ET), and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday morning blog.