Setbacks with hamstrings. That was the theme of Week 9, and it just might turn out to be the theme of the season. Consider the number of fantasy players whose seasons have already been significantly affected by hamstring injuries; names such as Miles Austin, Peyton Hillis, Andre Johnson and Daniel Thomas come to mind. Oh, wait! We're stealing the thunder of our Tuesday injury report, so here we go.
The status of the San Diego Chargers is important early in the week since they will be playing Thursday night. Naturally, as has been the trend all season, there are concerns at both running back and wide receiver. Ryan Mathews did not play Sunday against the Green Bay Packers after suffering a minor groin injury in the Monday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mathews did go through some light exercise before the game (remember, he was listed as questionable before Sunday's game, so there was at least a chance he could have played), then went through the team's light walk-through practice Monday. So far, signs are encouraging that he will play. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson remained on the injury report because of his hamstring but had a huge game in Week 9, including 140-plus yards and three touchdowns. Jackson proved he could function well despite not being quite at full health. Unfortunately, teammate Malcom Floyd is not faring as well. Floyd was unable to play Sunday after apparently aggravating his hip injury in the Chargers' Monday night game and has not yet returned to practice. His status for Thursday is in doubt.
Likewise, the Oakland Raiders will be playing Thursday night, making all the more critical the status of running back Darren McFadden, who has been ruled out, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Heading into Sunday's contest, coach Hue Jackson had intimated that McFadden could be kept out of Week 9 with the Week 10 game coming just four days later. In other words, many expected McFadden to be ready to go Thursday. On Monday, we learned McFadden still had not tested his injured right foot running, casting doubt on his ability to be ready by Thursday. McFadden is just two weeks removed from the injury, and as noted in an earlier blog post, the midfoot is critical for transferring weight and injuries to the area can be tricky. Given McFadden's history of prior foot injuries, ensuring he is healthy enough to advance his activity is key to avoiding lingering problems. It appears Michael Bush will be in line for another start with Taiwan Jones as his backup.
Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis has had his share of challenges this season. Things did not get any easier when Hillis suffered a major setback in Friday practice, aggravating his hamstring injury on a running play. A subsequent MRI suggested the injury had increased in severity, and Hillis was expected to miss an additional two to four weeks, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Naturally, he sat out Sunday's game and already has been declared out for Week 10. Coach Pat Shurmur told reporters the team "has not discussed" placing Hillis on injured reserve. Meanwhile, teammate Montario Hardesty also has been declared out for Week 10 as he recovers from his calf injury. The struggling Chris Ogbonnaya remains the likely starter.
Sticking with the hamstring theme, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin pulled up lame after a big reception Sunday, suffering an injury to his hamstring. With all the setbacks to players returning from significant hamstring injuries, many assumed that was the case for Austin as well; he had dealt with one on his left side earlier in the season. As it turns out, Austin pulled the opposite hamstring (his right), and according to ESPN Dallas, this injury is "higher" than the earlier one. Austin missed Weeks 3 and 4 after suffering a setback to the left hamstring he originally injured during the preseason. He returned to action following the Cowboys' Week 5 bye and managed 74 yards receiving. After two subsequent low-production games, Austin appeared on track for a bigger day Sunday, until the injury occurred. The current projection is for Austin to miss two to four weeks.
• The wait for Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson to return might go on a bit longer. Although Johnson worked out Monday, coach Gary Kubiak was unsure whether Johnson would practice Wednesday. The mantra remains the same: Johnson will not return until he feels 100 percent. Whether that is this week or after the team's Week 11 bye has not yet been determined.
• San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore sprained his left ankle in the second quarter of Sunday's game but continued to play. Although he appeared to be in serious discomfort after the game, subsequent X-rays came back negative, and both Gore and coach Jim Harbaugh have said he will be fine. Harbaugh told the Sacramento Bee, "He's feeling like Frank." Ah, just what Gore fantasy owners and 49ers fans want to hear. It sounds as if he is prepared for their big matchup Sunday against the New York Giants.
• But will the Giants have all their weapons on the field? Right now wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw, both of whom sat out in Week 9 with injuries, have a chance to play Sunday. Nicks (hamstring) and Bradshaw (foot) were to be re-evaluated Tuesday, and whether they can return to practice later in the week should hint at their availability.
• Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones could return this week after missing three weeks with his left high ankle sprain. The Dallas Morning News reports Jones did some cutting maneuvers while working out Monday, and coach Jason Garrett says the Cowboys are "hopeful" about his progress. Naturally, they want to see what Jones can do as the week progresses, but if all goes well, they could have Jones alongside DeMarco Murray.
• The Indianapolis Colts really haven't had much in the way of positives this season. Now they might have suffered another big loss in tight end Dallas Clark, who sustained what the team referred to as a lower leg injury. He is expected to be out "more than a week," according to coach Jim Caldwell. Note the vague injury information from the Colts, which is standard. Even their hint of more than a week suggests seriousness on the part of the team.
• ESPN.com reports Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is expected to miss Week 10. He is scheduled to meet with doctors and undergo further tests in what continues to be an ongoing recovery from the concussion he suffered in Week 6.
• The Buffalo Bills have lost their kicker, Rian Lindell, for an extended period with a serious shoulder injury. They have signed Dave Rayner, who filled in for Sebastian Janikowski for a week earlier this season, to take over for the near future.
We will continue to update these injuries and others as the week progresses.