Stephania Bell: Selvin Young

Marion Barber to miss Week 14

December, 6, 2008
If you're still in it, you're in it to win it, so you'd better pay close attention to every position in your fantasy lineup this week. Injuries at this time of year can be very tough on fantasy owners, as some NFL teams "rest" their injured players near the end of their regular season, wreaking havoc on your playoffs. Fortunately for fantasy owners, a lot of spots are still up for grabs in the NFL, and home-field advantage is at stake in many cases. So take advantage of the situation and play your best players as you try to get one step closer to fantasy prominence. Several fantasy stars will be game-time decisions this week, so assess carefully and be sure to check those last-minute inactives. To get you started, here's what we know as we head into Week 14.

Joseph Addai, RB and Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts: Uh-oh. Two additions to the Friday injury report that fantasy owners do not want to see. Addai was added after being limited in practice because of a "knee," meaning it does not appear that Addai has a specific injury, but rather that his knee was sore and the team took precautions. He is listed as questionable, and a source close to the team indicates that Addai likely will play, but it may come down to a game-time decision. Dominic Rhodes' value may have just gone up.

Likewise, Anthony Gonzalez appeared on the Friday injury report as questionable after not practicing because of a sore shoulder. When an athlete practices Wednesday and Thursday and sits out Friday, it is usually not a good sign, but this late in the season, it can also signal a proactive maneuver by a team to try to ensure a player's availability for the weekend.

In this case, questionable means 50-50 chance to play, so be sure to check game-day inactives (the Colts play at 1 p.m. EST) before you submit your fantasy lineup.

Other noteworthy items

Steven Jackson is looking forward to resuming the role of the feature back in St. Louis. After Jackson emerged none the worse for wear from last week's contest, he and coach Jim Haslett seem to be in agreement that he will see more work this week. Jackson is listed as probable and is expected to start and play a full four quarters this week. Jackson was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday -- not a surprise, as his quadriceps is still healing. But after a full practice Friday, Jackson is prepared to shoulder the load. Good news for fantasy owners, as Jackson faces Arizona and could have a big day.

Ryan Grant, who sat out most of the second half of Sunday's game with a sprained thumb, has been a full participant in practice all week, is listed as probable and is expected to start. In fact, coach Mike McCarthy told the Packers' official Web site that he expects Grant to see his usual workload. One of the tests in practice this week? Ball-security drills, which Grant apparently passed with flying colors. The team will not decide until Sunday whether Grant will wear a protective splint on his thumb, but at this point everyone appears confident that he can handle the responsibility. Should he falter, Brandon Jackson, who stepped in ably in Grant's place Sunday but sustained a bruised quadriceps in the process, is also listed as probable and is expected to be available to serve as needed.

Brian Westbrook is again listed as questionable, but it is widely assumed he will start after his four-touchdown performance on Thanksgiving. Westbrook practiced Wednesday but sat out Thursday and Friday to rest his oft-inflamed knee. Normally I get concerned when a player practices midweek but then decreases his activity late in the week, but this is a practice pattern we have seen before with Westbrook. Coach Andy Reid is careful to limit Westbrook's work on the turf to minimize the stress on his joints right before a game. Keep in mind that Correll Buckhalter, still ailing from an MCL sprain, is listed as doubtful and is not expected to play. The Eagles need Westbrook, and you can expect, barring some unusual pregame setback, that he will be on the field, albeit against a tough Giants defense.

Reggie Bush didn't practice Friday, but don't sound the alarm bells just yet. Bush was given a day of rest, and as a result was added to the injury report Friday. He is listed as probable, and coach Sean Payton has said Bush will play, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He returned last week after missing more than a month following meniscus surgery, and the time off showed. Bush appeared hesitant and was unable to accomplish much in the rushing department. It is not unusual for players to appear rusty after being out of the game. The speed of the game and the intensity of the contact can't be reproduced exactly during practice. Bush, frustrated by his performance, is eager to prove that he can be a spark for the Saints and hopes to deliver Sunday. Expect Pierre Thomas to see quite a bit of work, though, and temper your expectations for Bush's productivity.

Brandon Jacobs is no longer on the injury report, indicating that he will start this weekend against the Eagles. Teammate Derrick Ward twisted his ankle in practice Thursday, but his absence from the injury report means he is ready to go and will share carries with Jacobs. Ahmad Bradshaw, who sat out last week's contest with a neck injury, was able to practice fully all week and is listed as probable. Bradshaw will be waiting in the wings to spell Jacobs and Ward.

Ben Roethlisberger gave everyone a scare when he tweaked his knee Wednesday on a muddy practice field. The good news is that he was back for full practice Thursday and is listed as probable. Translation: Roethlisberger starts Sunday. Also listed as probable is running back Willie Parker, who has had his share of ups and downs with his knee this season. Lately he is on an "up" swing, and his "probable" designation pretty well assures his start in the lineup. Don't be surprised, though, if the Steelers continue to use Mewelde Moore to offload Parker in the running game.

• Last week we added "oblique strain" to Clinton Portis' list of ailments, a list that already included an earlier hip flexor strain and a grade II MCL sprain in his knee. Portis suited up Sunday but took a forearm to the neck, which resulted in a whiplash-type injury and forced him out for a significant portion of the game. Portis' neck has been stiff all week, according to the Washington Post, and he is listed on the injury report again this week as -- you guessed it -- questionable. Portis did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and did only limited practice on Friday, but he hasn't missed a game yet. The difference this week is the opponent: The Redskins face a tough Baltimore run defense, and Portis is clearly at less than 100 percent. His status will again be a game-time decision, but the Redskins don't play until Sunday night. I suspect Portis will again take the field, but it remains to be seen whether he can last the whole game, given his injuries and the unfavorable matchup.

Selvin Young is listed as probable, but not to worry, Peyton Hillis owners. Young has missed more than a month with a groin injury, and although he has been able to practice all week, he may return Sunday to only a handful of carries. His involvement in the game will not change how the Broncos plan to use Hillis. Hillis is also listed as probable because of a hip ailment, but his appearance on the injury report serves mostly to remind us of the beating he's been taking with all the work he's been getting. Hillis was able to practice fully all week and is not expected to be slowed by the hip or by the return of Young to the backfield.

• Is Matt Hasselbeck in your lineup? Better make a switch, because Hasselbeck is listed as doubtful and is not expected to play. His back is acting up again, and the Seahawks aren't going to risk their quarterback's long-term health at this point. What about the other Matt? Matt Schaub, the Texans' signal-caller, has been out of fantasy lineups while nursing a sprained MCL for several weeks. He is back under center this week after a full week of practice, and although the trip to Green Bay may be the coldest game ever for the Texans, Schaub is ready to run the offense on the tundra.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as additions to the "Out" listing for Week 14.

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys: The dislocated pinkie toe that Barber injured on Thanksgiving is keeping him out of Sunday's game, which is a bit of a surprise given the Cowboys' optimism about Barber's status until late this week. When Barber injured himself, the team was relieved that he did not sustain a fracture, and the thought was that resting the toe (with a few extra days thrown in, given the 10-day stretch between games) and supporting it would allow him to be ready for this week's all-important matchup against the Steelers. But, as in many facets of life, there are no guarantees.

Barber, who has not been able to practice since sustaining the injury, did not accompany the team on its charter flight to Pittsburgh, according to ESPN's Ed Werder. The fact that Barber was not able to practice by Friday, along with the Cowboys' activation of running back Alonzo Coleman from the practice squad to add some depth at the position, signaled a lack of confidence in Barber's availability heading into the weekend. Remember, the Cowboys lost Felix Jones to a big-toe injury that occurred while he was rehabilitating his injured hamstring, and behind Tashard Choice was, well, no one, which is why Coleman was brought up.

According to Werder, the Cowboys' athletic training and equipment staffs have been trying various modes of support for the toe. The big challenge is to find something that minimizes pain and controls mobility yet allows the athlete's foot to fit in his shoe and does not compromise his gait. They even sought out a modified shoe from Nike (reinforced with a carbon fiber insert) to further control toe mobility. Alas, the team ultimately determined that Barber would be better served by resting this week and not risking any further damage that could extend his absence.

Although you may be disappointed as a fantasy owner, you should take some comfort in knowing that Barber would have been a risky play even if he started, as the toe may not have allowed him to complete the game, or he could have struggled with adapting to new footwear. Hustle and pick up Tashard Choice while you still can.

Kellen Winslow, TE, Browns: The one player Ken Dorsey had a groove with from their University of Miami days won't be in the lineup when Dorsey starts. The question now is whether Winslow will return this season. It's too soon to say for sure, but high ankle sprains are nothing to sneeze at. Winslow is out this week, and maybe longer.

Mark Bradley, WR, Chiefs: Bradley was active last week despite an injured calf but did not have a catch. After another week of his struggling with the injury, the Chiefs decided to keep Bradley out. Could he make an appearance in the next round of your fantasy playoffs? Possibly, so if you're still alive next week, you may want to check his status.

Good luck in Week 14! Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET.

Things look promising for Bush

November, 26, 2008
No more Brady Quinn. No more Ahman Green. And no more Shaun Alexander. Quinn (finger) and Green (knee) both have injuries that will preclude them from making a return in 2008. As for Alexander, well, let's just say there's a reason the Seahawks decided to turn him loose at the end of last season (just like the Redskins did this week). Not that any of these guys were fantasy stars, mind you, but if they were on your roster, you have a hole to plug this week.

So who is still standing and healthy enough to count on in Week 13? Based on early practice reports, here's what we're hearing on the injury front so far:

Brian Westbrook
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesThe Eagles need Brian Westbrook to play Thursday, and he knows it.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: Westbrook's status looks to be a repeat of last week. He likely will not practice leading up to Thursday's game, and his injury label as of this post is questionable. Nonetheless, with the injury to backup Correll Buckhalter (MCL sprain), Westbrook is likely to be called upon more than the Eagles would have preferred. Lorenzo Booker now becomes Westbrook's backup, but he just hasn't seen enough playing time to provide the same offensive threat.

Expect Westbrook to be active for Thursday's game, but the knee and ankle troubles that have been plaguing him will not have gone away. On the Eagles' official Web site, Westbrook even said, "I don't think we're at the point where he would take me completely out, especially with our injury situation. I still think I can help out this team, whether it's picking up the blitz or running and catching the ball." His productivity, however, is likely to be limited again this week.

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: As Bush says, "This could be the week." And Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, who has been tracking Bush's every move since his surgery more than a month ago, seconds that. It looked like Bush would return on the big Monday night stage until late last week, but credit the Saints with holding him back until they were satisfied that he was approaching full health. Apparently, they did not see enough in practice to give them the confidence that Bush was ready to take the field and absorb the unavoidable contact that comes along with playing his position.

Bush might not see a full workload in his first game back, and it would not be a surprise to me if he is held out of special-teams play. Expect him to see some offensive action, though, including catching passes out of the backfield, and if all goes well, his action should continue to increase.

Some other players to keep an eye on as the week progresses ...

Jason Witten
AP Photo/Matt SlocumJason Witten is pretty sore right now, but he'll play Thursday.

&#8226 Jason Witten absorbed another huge body blow this week and had to get another set of X-rays. In addition to taking more hard shots to the chest, Witten also ended up with a sore jaw. Witten has played with a broken jaw before, so he knows what that pain is like. Luckily, there were no new fractures, and Witten, although no doubt very sore, practiced fully Monday and Tuesday and plans to play Thursday. Even though his broken ribs are still healing and his receptions are down, the team loves his presence on the field. But fantasy owners should keep in mind that he is at less than full health.

&#8226 Lions running back Kevin Smith banged up his shoulder last week and was held out of practice Monday. He returned to a limited practice Tuesday and is expected to play in the Lions' annual Thanksgiving day contest, but he might be less than 100 percent.

&#8226 Broncos running back Selvin Young is expected to return from his groin injury this week, assuming he is able to get in some full practices. That should serve only to cut into Peyton Hillis' workload. Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler is quietly getting healthier, and although he hasn't been very productive lately, he has a potentially good matchup Sunday versus the Jets.

&#8226 "Fast" Willie Parker might not be so fast getting back on the field after aggravating his knee again last week. Parker reportedly has inflammation in his recently sprained knee, and he's listed as questionable for Sunday's game. The word is that Parker will have more evaluative tests done this week, but it is reasonable to think that Mewelde Moore will again start in his place at New England. Receiver Santonio Holmes suffered a concussion last week, but coach Mike Tomlin said on the Steelers' official Web site that he expects Holmes to be ready to play Sunday.

&#8226 Plaxico Burress was scheduled to have his hamstring further evaluated this week. Burress had a disappointing early exit from Sunday's game once he figured out that he could not run fast with the hamstring ailing, but the Giants are hopeful that he will not miss much more time. We should have a better idea as to his status later in the week, but you know how it goes with these delicate hamstring injuries. Have a backup plan in place. Meanwhile, teammate Brandon Jacobs should be able to play Sunday at Washington after he was a surprise late scratch just before this past Sunday's game. Jacobs, who had appeared to be healthy after full practices late last week, reportedly had stiffness in his knee following the team's flight to Arizona, according to the New York Daily News. In any event, the extra week should have helped him, and it would be a surprise if he is not on the field this Sunday.

There are three Thursday games this week, so don't forget to set your lineups early! We'll have the latest injury updates affecting the Week 13 weekend contests and any postmortem on Thursday injuries in the Saturday blog.

Portis looking unlikely to play

November, 12, 2008

Tatum Bell has packed his bags and headed off to Denver to help fill a gap in the Broncos' injury-depleted backfield. Will this partnership be better the second time around? Larry Johnson will be active for the Chiefs this week, and just in time, as the ankle problem ailing Jamaal Charles has him questionable for Sunday. Warrick Dunn is feeling better, and the Buccaneers have to be happy about that, since Earnest Graham's knee sprain may keep him sidelined this week.

Games of musical chairs are being played at running back everywhere around the league. Who else will be stepping into or out of your fantasy rotation this week? Based on early practice reports, here's what we're hearing on the injury front so far:

Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: Portis has a grade 2 medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain that could sideline him this week, according to the Washington Post. We all know that Portis has been taking his share of hits with his big workload so far this year and has proved extremely resilient, but a grade 2 MCL sprain is a compromising injury for a running back.

The Post reports that Portis said on John Thompson's radio show that he was having more pain in his knee late last week, which led to further evaluation and the ultimate diagnosis. Portis also stated that as of Tuesday he was just starting to bend his knee and could not fully straighten it, either. This is not unusual for an MCL injury, as some of the ligament fibers are stretched when the knee is bent and others are stretched when the knee is extended. As the ligament is trying to heal, it is important not to overstretch those fibers, so initially the knee is restricted from the extremes of the range of motion.

If Portis was still lacking range of motion Tuesday, it's almost impossible to imagine that he could regain full motion and have enough strength and stability to perform in a game. Remember Willie Parker just returned (against the Redskins, in fact) after missing about a month with a similar injury. LaDainian Tomlinson tried to play in the 2007 AFC Championship game but lasted only a few plays because of a grade 2 MCL injury. Running backs' rapid directional changes stress the MCL significantly, and pain or a sense of instability will render them far less effective. This injury typically requires a few weeks of recovery, but a grade 2 (moderate) sprain represents a big range in terms of the extent of damage to the tissue -- the time frame for recovery is not automatic. If Portis is able to participate in practice late in the week, it bodes well for an earlier recovery, but even then, it would be a big surprise to see him in the lineup Sunday.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonRomo makes his return to the Dallas lineup this week.
Tony Romo, QB, and Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys: The Cowboys are excited that Romo is back under center this week -- right on time, based on projections made after Romo first broke the little finger on his throwing hand. According to the Cowboys' official Web site, Romo returned to practice Monday and is throwing with "more zip on the ball," coach Wade Phillips said. Everything is pointing toward Romo's practicing all week and starting Sunday. He'll likely be a bit rusty after missing a month, but his finger should be on its way to being well healed. It was a wise decision for the Cowboys to allow Romo to rest and let his finger heal properly, ensuring less risk of complications for his throwing hand down the road. It will be a tough contest against the Redskins, but you can count on Romo's throwing the ball plenty.

The Cowboys' running game, however, may still be without the services of Felix Jones. Jones missed practice Monday, as he is still recovering from his hamstring injury. Missing the first day of practice after a bye week is not a good sign, but the first news of Jones' injury (that it was located closer to the knee) suggested that it could take longer to heal fully. For his part, Jones told the Cowboys' official Web site that he is very close to ready and hopes to return to practice Wednesday and play Sunday. He was able to run full speed last week but has worked solely on the side so far. If Jones demonstrates that he can go full speed in practice toward the latter part of the week, then he has a chance to play. That play, however, is likely to be limited, as the team is likely to ease him back so as not to risk re-injury. Fantasy owners should have a backup in place, though -- you know how finicky these muscle strains can be, especially as an athlete pushes himself toward full gear.

Tight end Jason Witten returned to practice Monday and is feeling better. Expect him back in the lineup Sunday, probably with some extra cushion around his still-healing rib, as he's a favorite Romo target.

Some other players to keep an eye on as the week progresses:

• The Broncos have added Tatum Bell to their roster. Bell and fullback Peyton Hillis are basically the only backs left standing. Selvin Young aggravated his groin injury in the Thursday night game and is unlikely to be available for a while. Meanwhile, tight end Tony Scheffler showed that he could play, but he was clearly still hurting. Hopefully the longer stretch between games this week will help him.

[+] EnlargeMatt Hasselbeck
Rich Kane/US PresswireHasselbeck's return should help the Seattle offense immensely.
• Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and receiver Deion Branch could both be back in the lineup this week. The Seattle Times reports that coach Mike Holmgren is "cautiously optimistic" that they will be ready. Hasselbeck has regained strength in his leg, which allowed him to return to practice. Given the extent of his time off and the fact that he may not be at full strength (or in game shape), temper any expectations about what Hasselbeck can deliver. Meanwhile, Branch has recently been dealing with a painful bruised heel, which, along with a still-recovering ACL-reconstructed knee on the other side, has kept him out of the lineup for most of the season. As ESPN's John Clayton points out, though, the Seahawks have just released receiver Keary Colbert, a sign that Holmgren's optimism about Branch's return is well-founded. By Friday we should have a better indication as to what both players can do, but it's looking promising.

• Over in Pittsburgh, coach Mike Tomlin has taken a slightly different approach this week when it comes to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tomlin wants to see Roethlisberger practice more early in the week before he commits to him as the Sunday starter. Roethlisberger, who suffered an acromioclavicular joint sprain in the season opener, has been nagged by the shoulder throughout the season, a condition that has not been helped by being knocked down and sacked. The trend has been for Roethlisberger to rest his arm to varying degrees during the week, practice some Friday then play Sunday. The trend has also been that Roethlisberger's performance declines as the game goes on, especially in the fourth quarter. There are likely multiple reasons for this, including some poor decision-making on Roethlisberger's part, which he openly acknowledges. But it is also probable that his shoulder plays a role in his ineffectiveness late in the game. As he takes a beating over the 60-minute contest, any pain or swelling that he incurs in the shoulder will make it more difficult for the muscles around the shoulder to function properly. This will in turn affect his throwing, limiting both his distance and his accuracy. Perhaps Tomlin's notion of seeing Roethlisberger in practice more is not a bad one from an injury perspective, in that if he is fatiguing in practice, it may be a good indicator that he will struggle to complete a game. And then there are all the other obvious benefits of practicing with the team throughout the week. And what about "Fast" Willie Parker? He may be wearing a harness for his injured shoulder, but he is expected to practice Wednesday and play Sunday.

• Bears quarterback Kyle Orton is determined to return to the field Sunday, but will he be able to do it? We don't know yet because the Bears will have their first practice Wednesday. Although his determination is admirable, it will really come down to functionality. Can he move effectively enough on that ankle to justify a start? This may come down to another game-time decision, but we should have a better clue by Friday. Stay tuned.

• Good early news for Steven Jackson fantasy owners. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Jackson was on the practice field Wednesday morning sharing first-team reps in 11-on-11 drills with teammate Antonio Pittman, who started last week in place of the injured Jackson. The fact that Jackson was running through team drills is a good sign that his quad is recovering, but it is still early. Coach Jim Haslett has made it clear that Jackson will need to go through a full practice at full speed before he is allowed to play, but this is the best start to a practice week that Jackson has had since the injury. Friday will be critical.

• Everyone is excited in Tampa Bay. Running back Carnell Williams, coming off a devastating injury (torn patellar tendon) more than a year ago, has worked extremely hard to get himself back to the playing field. Well, all that hard work has paid off. The Buccaneers have decided to activate Williams off the physically unable to perform list, and the move has come just in time. Teammate Earnest Graham is dealing with a knee sprain that will likely sideline him this week, as he has not been able to return to practice. Warrick Dunn, who missed the Bucs' last contest with a pinched nerve, has returned to practice and is hopeful that he'll play this weekend. Don't expect much from Cadillac at first; he will be brought back very gradually as his recovery is still in progress. By the time fantasy playoffs roll around, though, he could become a worthy flex player. You may want to grab him before anyone else notices.

As usual, practice throughout the week will give us a better hint as to what the final status of these players will be heading into Week 11. See you Friday at the injury chat, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 11 in the Saturday blog!

Broncos, Rams backs banged up

November, 5, 2008

What is challenging your fantasy team at the critical midseason juncture? Chances are it's either the loss of one (or all) of your starting quarterbacks (pick a team, any team) or perhaps it's the loss of your starting running back and his handcuff, and maybe even his handcuff (see: St. Louis and Denver). Here's how some of the injury news is shaping up in Week 10.

Denver Broncos RBs: There are just too many injured backs to name. On Monday, we discussed Michael Pittman and his aggravated stinger. Pittman had worked his way up to a starting role, but the latest setback has now forced him onto injured reserve. Joining him on IR is Andre Hall, who suffered a left hand injury.

Selvin Young, who began the season as the Broncos' starting tailback, has been dealing with a groin injury since Oct. 5. Young was limited in practice all last week but the team is hopeful that they can ramp up his activity this week.

Rookie Ryan Torain, fresh off elbow surgery, has a great deal of promise, but is still getting his feet wet in the NFL. Nonetheless, if Young remains less than fully healthy, Torain may well start this week's game by default.

Here's the big problem: The Broncos play Thursday night! So it's not as if they have an entire week to sort this situation out. At this point, it appears that Torain will see an increased role, and there is hope that Young may be able to balance him out. Be sure to check inactives before the game, though, as this is a very fluid situation.

Steven Jackson
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesSteven Jackson boldly stated on his Web site he'd play last Sunday, but his playing time was still limited.
St. Louis Rams RBs: Just like in Denver, the string of injuries in St. Louis threatens the entire backfield.

It starts with the front runner, Steven Jackson, who played Sunday but showed he was clearly less than 100 percent healthy. In fact, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jackson took himself out before the first play of the game because he was concerned that he could not make the cutback that the called play required. Coach Jim Haslett, after being put in a position of having to make last-minute adjustments as a result, has made it clear that that will not be the case again this week: Jackson will either practice at least one full day this week or he will sit on the sidelines Sunday. This will be a more firm test of whether Jackson's quadriceps is truly ready to handle the burst and explosiveness necessary for him to play with confidence.

Meanwhile, fellow running back Antonio Pittman (Pittman is not a good surname to have as a running back if you want to avoid the injury list this week) injured his hamstring on his first carry of the game Sunday. He has already been ruled out of this week's contest against the Jets.

And then there's Travis Minor. Minor suffered a concussion last Sunday that forced him out early and he is still recovering. According to the Post-Dispatch, Minor did not pass a neuro-psych test Tuesday (a battery of tests administered post-concussion; the results of those tests are compared to those obtained during the preseason when the athlete is healthy to assess whether the effects of concussion are still present) and he will be re-tested Friday. There is no guarantee that Minor will be ready to go Sunday.

So with all these question marks, who might be lining up at the running back position for the Rams? Well, it could be Kenneth Darby, signed in mid-October after Brian Leonard went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Or it could be Samkon Gado! Remember him? The Rams apparently did, signing him this week to the active roster. As the Post-Dispatch notes, Gado is a bright fellow (he was pre-med in college, so he does have a fallback plan if this football thing doesn't work out) and the team expects him to absorb the offensive playbook quickly enough to see action Sunday, if needed. No kidding! He is listed as the team's No. 2 back as of right now, and it will be interesting to see how practice late this week impacts the rotation.

Some other players to keep an eye on as the week progresses ...

In addition to all the running back struggles, the Broncos have been without tight end Tony Scheffler, who had started the season strong but has missed the past three games with a groin injury. Despite the rest, Scheffler is still on the mend. The Rocky Mountain News reports that Scheffler still had not tried sharp cuts as of Tuesday. His availability for the Thursday night game remains a question mark, and may well be a game-time decision.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck likely will not return this week according to The (Tacoma, Wash.) News-Tribune. Nonetheless, it does appear that he is regaining some strength in his leg, a sign that his sciatic nerve is not as compromised. Before Hasselbeck is cleared to return to practice, he has to demonstrate adequate strength in his leg, so this could signal that that day is approaching. Returning to practice is far removed from returning to play, however, so continue to view this as a longer-term situation.

Ben Roethlisberger
Larry French/Getty ImagesBen Roethlisberger has been dealing with a shoulder injury for much of the season, but it got worse on Monday night.
The Pittsburgh Steelers likely will be without the services of tight end Heath Miller when they face the Colts on Sunday. Miller suffered a sprained ankle in Monday's contest. Perhaps the bigger question, however, is whether Ben Roethlisberger will be under center. Coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that Roethlisberger aggravated his right shoulder injury, but has not revealed the results of his latest MRI scan. (Roethlisberger suffered an acromioclavicular [AC] joint sprain early in the season and has dealt with shoulder pain ever since).

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tomlin has not decided whether Roethlisberger or Byron Leftwich, who stepped in ably Monday night, will start Sunday. This is not the kind of injury that heals in a week; if it was, Roethlisberger would have been 100 percent after the bye. This is a condition that the team will manage, but the more hits Roethlisberger takes from week to week, the more likely it is the condition gets exacerbated, and the less effective he is likely to become. We should have a better idea by Friday's practice as to how Tomlin is leaning.

Darren McFadden will be day-to-day this week. Two turf toes. That's all you need to know. Expect Justin Fargas to continue to shoulder the majority of the load this week.

As usual, practice throughout the week will give us a better hint as to what the final status of these players will be heading into Week 10. Remember there are bye weeks for Cincinnati, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Washington, so we will not get much information in terms of player injury updates from these teams until next week. See you Friday at the injury chat, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 10 in the Saturday blog!

Steven Jackson looking to play

November, 1, 2008
Bad weather and airport delays during my West Coast travels have me hustling to get the news out to you. So without further ado, here's what we know as we head into the Week 9 contests.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: After a successful week of practice, including Saturday, it appears (fingers crossed) that Parker, labeled as probable, will play Monday. Parker has been working his way back from a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his left knee which he originally injured in Week 3. Then, just when it looked as if he was ready to return, a misstep set him back and he has missed two additional weeks.

Parker and his fantasy owners have been eagerly anticipating his return, but don't get too excited just yet. Given the fact that he has already suffered one setback, no one wants to set him up for another, so the team plans to bring him back gradually. In other words, expect Mewelde Moore to continue to see a fair amount of action this week.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: The quad strain that kept Jackson out of last week's game continued to limit him in practice throughout the week, although he was able to do a bit more Friday. Nonetheless, his official designation remains questionable and again this week coach Jim Haslett stated that Jackson would be a game-time decision. Last week it was tightness in the muscle that Jackson felt during warm-ups that kept him from going, so it did literally come down to how he felt minutes before the game.

But wait! Perhaps you won't have to wait until just before kickoff to find out about Jackson's status. In a late post on his official Web site Saturday,, Jackson announced to all his fans that the leg is feeling good enough for him to play against the Cardinals on Sunday. He notes that it is a big game and he is going to "give everything [he's] got" to get the Rams a win. In case you still don't believe? Jackson's words: "So to be clear. I am playing. Be ready." Don't know if that's directed at fantasy owners or the Cardinals, but it sounds convincing. Although he was limited this week, and perhaps a little more so than expected given that he was considering suiting up last week, he may have been protecting his leg to save up for the weekend. It's looking promising.

Joseph Addai, RB, Dominic Rhodes, RB, and Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts: Addai has been absent for a few weeks because of a hamstring strain but there is reason to get (a little) excited. Addai, although listed as questionable, is expected to play, and possibly start when the Colts face the Patriots on Sunday night. Addai has been practicing all week without a setback, a positive sign of his progress.

The reason we can get only a little excited is because the Colts plan to have Addai share time with Rhodes, who has been filling in ably during his absence. According to Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, Tony Dungy was very clear on that point even as Addai improved in practice throughout the week. "Joseph will start if he's ready to go and 100 percent. But Dom is going to get a lot of carries and continue to do a good job for us either way. If Joe's not 100 percent, then we'll start Dom," the Colts coach said. There's a twist, though. Rhodes himself was added to the injury report this week with an ankle ailment and is listed as questionable. Despite that, he was fully practicing Thursday and Friday, so he should be on the field. Addai and Rhodes are likely to split the work to ensure that neither is overburdened.

Meanwhile, Wayne has been limited by a sore knee all week. The Colts have not issued any specifics related to his injury, indicating only that he tweaked the knee against the Titans. Early in the week, Dungy sounded optimistic that this apparently minor ailment wouldn't hold Wayne back. But as the week went on, and Wayne did not practice Thursday as originally expected, it appeared the situation was a bit more serious. On Friday, Wayne did only limited work and has been tagged as questionable. Here's why we're concerned. This is a guy who, until this week, has not missed practice since his rookie year in 2001. The knee is bothering him. That being said, Wayne did tell the Indianapolis Star that he is "ready to go." Look for Wayne to be a game-time decision, but consider that he may not be in tip-top form.

Other noteworthy items

&#8226 Clinton Portis ended the week with a probable designation, so you can feel safe that he will play Monday. His hip is still sore and he sprained an ankle last week, so the team kept his practice to a minimum, but he is good to go. Teammate Santana Moss is less of a sure thing, however; his hamstring strain kept him out of practice the entire week. He is listed as questionable and even coach Jim Zorn made it clear in comments to the Washington Post that he did not want Moss to start, only to find out minutes into the game that he couldn't continue: "I want him to go out and, if he's going to play, participate fully in the game." Given Moss' extensive hamstring injury history (2004, 2006 and 2007) and his reliance on speed and explosiveness, I would be leery of counting on his availability.

&#8226 Jason Witten remains a game-time decision with his fractured rib. Witten, known for his pain tolerance, is feeling enough pain that his daily activities are limited, and he has not practiced all week. He is very Brian Westbrook-esque in his ability to show up Sunday and play well, even if he does not practice during the week, but even Westbrook sat out a week with a rib fracture. Witten may very well follow suit.

&#8226 Speaking of Westbrook, the Eagles now have him and Kevin Curtis back in the mix. It also appears that they will add Reggie Brown to the list of players returning to the lineup from injury. Brown has missed multiple games this year because of various muscle strains, the latest being a groin injury. Brown did practice all week, is listed as probable and is expected to play. Teammate DeSean Jackson also showed up on the injury report with a shoulder ailment but it appears minor because he did not miss any practice time. He too is listed as probable and is expected to play.

&#8226 Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden acknowledged earlier in the week that Dunn should not have played last week. Although Dunn seemed to downplay the symptoms of his pinched nerve last week, it clearly was more problematic than he expected. Dunn did not practice all week and is unlikely to play Sunday. More work for Earnest Graham.

&#8226 The Bears have to be happy that Devin Hester was completely off the injury report this week. Teammate Brandon Lloyd, however, was not. Lloyd is still listed as questionable with a sprained knee and has not been a full participant in practice all week. Do not be surprised if he is held out again Sunday.

&#8226 What to make of the Broncos' injury report? It looks as if the entire running back corps is questionable, along with a receiver and a tight end. Running backs Selvin Young (groin) and Ryan Torain (elbow) are the more questionable of the backs on the list. Young is still limited in practice. Torain, although he is doing well in practice, has never played a down of professional ball and coach Mike Shanahan has hinted that he wants to give him just a little more healing time before subjecting him to the big boy hits. Pittman (bruised ribs) was able to practice all week, suggesting that he will indeed be ready to play. Meanwhile, tight end Tony Scheffler continues to be limited by his groin injury and receiver Brandon Stokley is still recovering from his concussion. They both practiced on a limited basis and could play, but their status is not exactly confidence inspiring.

&#8226 Willis McGahee has been listed as questionable because of an ankle injury. There has been nothing out of Baltimore to suggest that this is serious, and the fact that he was limited in practice this week can probably be interpreted as a protective maneuver. Check game day inactives, but expect him to play.

&#8226 Raiders rookie Darren McFadden is nursing two bad toes. When you have two ailing feet, your designation is doubtful, as McFadden's is, and when you haven't practiced all week, you can expect that you'll be watching from the sidelines in your street clothes. And maybe a boot. More work for Justin Fargas.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as additions to the "Out" listing for Week 9.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: Palmer's elbow problems are not news, but his status is worth repeating. The Bengals have a bye next week, and after that we should learn whether Palmer will attempt to return at all this season.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: Hasselbeck continues to have weakness in his leg related to sciatic nerve compromise. This is a waiting game and is not likely to be over quickly.

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Out again this week with the broken pinkie, as expected. Bye next week. Likely return to start in Week 11.

LaMont Jordan, RB, and Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots: Well, Morris' downgrade posted in the Boston Globe Saturday was no surprise. Why the Patriots didn't list him as out on Friday is a mystery since it seemed as if everyone knew his knee would keep him out again this week. But Jordan was downgraded to out (from questionable) on Saturday along with Morris, apparently as a result of the nagging calf problem. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Kevin Faulk are the Sunday tandem.

Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos: If you were watching Denver's last game two Mondays ago, you saw Bailey reach down to his inner thigh in the middle of a play, a sure sign of a groin injury. Unfortunately for Denver, it sounds as if it was a significant strain. Bailey is out this week and is expected to miss several more.

Josh Reed, WR, Bills: Reed has an Achilles injury that will sideline him this week.

L.J. Smith, TE, Eagles: Smith suffered a concussion last week and it was not pretty. He was unable to practice all week and will watch from the sidelines while he continues to recover.

Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks: Branch continues to be plagued by the heel injury he sustained a few weeks ago. The Seahawks recognized that he would not go early in the week and made the announcement that he would sit out alongside his quarterback.

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins: Betts' knee injury from Week 7 will keep him out for the big Monday night contest against the Steelers. The Redskins have a bye in Week 10, so look for Betts to increase his activity in Week 11.

Shawn Springs, CB, Redskins: Springs has a calf injury that has been problematic and will sideline him Monday night. All the more important that teammate Carlos Rogers' calf injury does not appear quite so serious, and his return to practice late in the week suggests that he will be available against the Steelers.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 9!

Bell: Not Fast Enough, Parker Out

October, 18, 2008
There has been a lot of quarterback drama this week. We know that Carson Palmer is sitting this one out for the Bengals. We also know that Seneca Wallace will start in place of Matt Hasselbeck for the Seahawks. And finally we are getting the strong impression out of Dallas that Brad Johnson will indeed start, although Tony Romo and his broken pinkie finger are listed as questionable and he could serve as a backup.

There are a few other injuries to report that will certainly impact fantasy owners everywhere. Here's what we know as we head into the Week 7 contests.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers: What happened? We were so sure we would see "Fast" Willie Parker back on the field after the bye. He wanted to come back in Week 5 because he felt so good, remember? Well, that was then, this is now. Parker is now listed as doubtful and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that Parker did not practice Friday and will not play. Teammate Mewelde Moore continues to start in Parker's place.

Parker had been recovering from a sprained knee; specifically he had a sprain of his left medial collateral ligament (MCL) which supports the inner aspect of the knee joint and provides critical stability for lateral motion and cutting. Parker had resumed all activities and reportedly felt good with his cutting maneuvers, one of the final "tests" for readiness to return to play following this type of injury. But then he suffered a setback earlier in the week after reportedly stepping in a hole at the Steelers' practice facility, aggravating the still-healing ligament. The big question becomes whether Parker will be ready to go by next week. It is far from a sure thing at this point.

Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins: Portis has a strained hip flexor which kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. The good news for the Redskins is that Portis was able to practice on Friday and although listed as questionable, is expected to play Sunday.

The hip flexor muscles are very strong in runners and are responsible, just as the name implies, for flexing the hip. The hip flexor generates a good deal of power in helping drive the runner forward, so with Portis likely at less than 100 percent, his explosiveness may be diminished this week. Portis has had an amazingly solid start to his season, so this has to be a great disappointment. Coach Jim Zorn said all week that he expected Portis to be available Sunday but after practice Friday, Zorn acknowledged there were deficits. "Nothing for him was absolute burst full-speed, but I saw him make some cuts both left and right."

Newly signed running back Shaun Alexander will be waiting in the wings to help out if needed. With Portis less than fully healthy and Ladell Betts out with a knee injury, Alexander could very well see some time on the field.

Other noteworthy items

&#8226 Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow returned to team practice Friday after missing last week with an undisclosed illness and says he is hopeful to play. Although Winslow kept quiet as to the exact nature of the illness, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that he answered "no" when asked if he could confirm that it was an infection, and added that he did not lose any weight. Both of those answers would support the idea that he is strong enough to play, but he remains listed as questionable and looks to be a game-time decision.

&#8226 After sitting out practice Wednesday following a concussion last week, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson returned to full practice Thursday and is off the injury report now. Teammate Kevin Smith still has a sore shoulder but is listed as probable and is expected to play.

&#8226 Hard as it is to believe, the Patriots' injury report actually adds more clarity to their running back situation this week. Both Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan are listed as doubtful and neither is expected to play Monday night. Neither Jordan (calf) nor Maroney (shoulder) practiced all week so there is really nothing encouraging about their chances of making an appearance. Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk will continue to handle the bulk of the work.

&#8226 San Diego Chargers receiver Chris Chambers remains doubtful and is not expected to play. Earlier reports out of San Diego were optimistic about Chambers' prospects this week, but ankle sprains can be tricky, and Chambers himself has been vocal about making sure he does not return too soon and risk further injury. Running backs Darren Sproles (ankle) and LaDainian Tomlinson (toe) are both probable and will play.

&#8226 Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal is the lone bright spot on a very full Denver injury report. He is listed as probable and after fully practicing all week, his ankle appears to be much improved and he is expected to play. Meanwhile, tight end Tony Scheffler and running back Selvin Young, both of whom sat out last week, are still limited in terms of what they can do since suffering left-sided groin injuries. They are both listed as questionable, and with the extra day afforded them given that the team plays Monday night, there is some hope that they will be able to go. If they do play however, they will not be at 100 percent. Then there is wide receiver Brandon Stokley who sustained yet another concussion last Sunday. He too is questionable -- very questionable -- since he did not practice at all this week. It would not be surprising if he sits this one out. That means Brandon Marshall will remain a hot target for Cutler along with Royal. Don't worry about Marshall's surprise presence on the injury report. He had a mild groin strain but was able to fully practice Friday, is listed as probable and is expected to play Monday night.

&#8226 New Orleans finally gets some good news in the injury department. Wide receiver David Patten is no longer on the injury report and therefore should be expected in the Sunday lineup. Wide receiver Marques Colston and tight end Jeremy Shockey, whose joint progress from surgery we have been tracking for some time, are both listed as probable and expected to take the field Sunday. Colston and Shockey both saw limited reps in practice throughout the week. It appears Colston will get the green light while Shockey may very well be limited in his first action back Sunday as he is still on a relatively early timeframe following his sports hernia repair. The surprise name added to the Saints' list this week was Reggie Bush, who had soreness and swelling in his left knee according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. This is the same knee in which Bush partially tore the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) last year, and it is not unusual to have some intermittent swelling in a knee with an injury history. The Saints allowed him to rest the knee during the week with the idea that he would be ready to go Sunday, and coach Sean Payton told the Times-Picayune that he expects Bush, listed as probable, to "play his normal role." Bush said earlier in the week that he has been dealing with intermittent swelling since training camp. Clearly he has managed to perform just fine so far this year, so at this point there does not appear to be any major cause for concern.

&#8226 The Buccaneers are hoping that wide receiver Joey Galloway will be able to take the field this Sunday after missing several weeks with a foot sprain. This is the first week that Galloway has really been able to practice with the team and he appears eager to return. He is officially listed as questionable and it will come down to a game-time decision for him, based on how his foot feels during warmups.

&#8226 The Seattle Seahawks will likely be without the services of wide receiver Deion Brnach who continues to be unable to practice because of a bruised heel (to go along with his recently reconstructed ACL in the opposite leg). He is listed as questionable, but is really not expected to play.

&#8226 In Indianapolis, running back Joseph Addai will probably be watching from the sidelines this week. He is listed as doubtful, and in fact was initially rumored to have a hamstring injury that could sideline him for a couple weeks, but the team still did not officially rule him out. It appears that the team is approaching his progress day-to-day, but given that Addai could not run all week, don't expect any miracles before Sunday.

&#8226 Good news in Tennessee as wide receiver Justin Gage appeared to be able to run more this week. He remains listed as questionable though as he has not practiced with the team and his status will come down to pregame warmups.

&#8226 In Minnesota the news on wide receivers Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice is better this week. Berrian has been managing to play and play well the past two weeks despite a mild knee injury so it would be no surprise if he shows up in uniform ready to go. But Rice, who has struggled with a sprained posterior cruciate ligament, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he is better now and "definitely" plans to play. Both players are listed as questionable, but it appears that both will be active. Keep in mind that if Rice does play, he may be limited in his first action in nearly a month.

&#8226 We saved a spot for a kicker mention. Bengals kicker Shayne Graham has a groin strain, very disabling for a kicker since the position requires both extreme flexibility and power from the groin area. Graham is questionable but will likely be on the sidelines with tight end Ben Utecht, who is doubtful with a chest injury. Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was also listed as questionable after being restricted in practice this week because of his ankle, but he did fully practice Friday and should play.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially listed as additions to the "Out" listing for Week 7.

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals: We have been talking about the inflammation in his throwing elbow for a while now and after he sought a second opinion, it came as no surprise that he was encouraged to rest. Now we are hearing that he may be resting for at least another week. At least.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks: The problem in his back turned out to be responsible for much of what Hasselbeck was feeling in his leg. He is undergoing aggressive rehab and the team hopes to have him back for Week 8. That may be optimistic.

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins: Betts has a knee injury that will sideline him this week. With teammate Clinton Portis banged up, will we see the 2008 debut of new team member Shaun Alexander?

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys: His status was never in question like that of his quarterback teammate. Jones has a hamstring injury, reportedly located close to where the tendon attaches at the knee, that is projected to keep him out anywhere from two to four weeks.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Bears: This should not be a surprise. We've been warning you for a while now that this injury looked as if it would cost Lloyd a few weeks of playing time. So far that's the case.

B.J. Askew, RB, Buccaneers: Askew hurt his hamstring last week and Earnest Graham shifted to the fullback position to help out his team and watched Warrick Dunn get all the glory. Great for his team, bad for his fantasy owners. Well, Askew sits out this one as well, but not to worry fantasy owners, Graham resumes his normal role this week.

Samari Rolle, CB, Ravens: Rolle is recovering nicely from his neck surgery and is reportedly out of his protective cervical collar, moving freely. He's still too soon out from surgery to be back on the field though. Plan on at least a couple more weeks.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at 12 p.m. EST. Good luck in Week 7!

Here's what we know as we head into Week 6 contests.

[+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesCarson Palmer gets another week off this week. Ryan Fitzpatrick should be just as good, right?
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Palmer is listed as doubtful this week but the Bengals have already indicated that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will start. Palmer still has soreness in his throwing elbow, and after not practicing all week, was relegated to non-starter this week. Whether Palmer is completely sidelined or whether he suits up as the No. 2 quarterback remains to be seen. It appears that the team is being protective of Palmer's elbow in the interest of his long-term health. With Fitzpatrick having an extra week of snaps with the first team, and Palmer being so critical to the franchise, it is not surprising that the team would opt to rest him. What is a bit surprising is they have not completely ruled him out of the game. It seems that if the Bengals wanted him to rest his elbow, the safest play would be to make him unavailable. After all, the No. 2 quarterback would then be Carson's younger brother, Jordan. Surely he's picked up a tip or two from his older sibling. In any event, fantasy owners want to find a replacement for Week 6 and it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep a second quarterback on your reserve list. This could be a week-to-week situation.

Matt Hasselbeck, QB and Deion Branch WR, Seattle Seahawks: What is in the drinking water in Seattle? There has to be a big reward waiting for whoever can discover the antidote to the injury plague attacking the Seattle quarterback and receiving crew.

Seattle will be starting its No. 3 quarterback Sunday if Charlie Frye takes the field at 4:15 p.m. EST. I say "if" because although Hasselbeck has not yet been cleared for contact, there is an outside chance that could happen by Sunday -- a very teeny, tiny outside chance. Hasselbeck hyperextended his knee last week and although a subsequent MRI revealed no ligament or meniscal damage, he did sustain a painful bone bruise and has been unable to practice all week. Early in the week, coach Mike Holmgren indicated that he expected Hasselbeck to be ready by game time, a point that was reiterated as late as Thursday by offensive coordinator Gil Haskell. But Hasselbeck was still not practicing Friday and, according to ESPN reports, Holmgren offered this explanation: "The thing just has not responded. He can't do much with his leg. It's not ligaments, it's not anything like that. It's just sore." Holmgren does not want to put a potentially vulnerable Hasselbeck on the field when his inability to move well could result in more hits and further injury. So, enter backup quarterback Seneca Wallace. Oops! He's not available because of a calf strain that has had him sidelined since he was prepping for filling in as the fifth or sixth wide receiver. Fortunately for Frye, he has been taking the first team snaps all week, and he did some filling in for Hasselbeck in preseason games while Hasselbeck nursed a sore lower back.

But the injuries don't stop there. Branch, who was so excited about making his regular-season NFL return last week from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery, was forced out early Sunday with a new injury. Branch is listed as questionable but is not expected to play.

Branch suffered a heel bruise on his left side. Sure, a bruise doesn't sound major, but if you were to take a hammer and slam it against your heel, then walk around on it, you might be able to appreciate just how limiting this type of thing can be. Now attempt to run, where your heel has to hit the ground harder. Even better, try jumping and landing on that foot alone. That's right. You really can't. (Hopefully no one actually tried this, but you get the picture.) Now complicate that picture by having a newly reconstructed knee on the other side. Although Branch was doing well from a healing perspective on his surgically reconstructed right knee, he was just getting his confidence back in that leg. Part of that help is having another "sound" leg. With his left leg now compromised, it potentially alters the way he moves on his right leg, and that is not something you want to see from a rehab perspective, as you're just getting an athlete back to competition.

If you want to take the glass-half-full approach, there is a bit of good news in Seattle. Last week the Seahawks saw receiver Bobby Engram enter the lineup for the first time in 2008 after being out with a fractured shoulder. He played well and is expected to see increased activity this week. Recently re-signed receiver Koren Robinson appears to be on the mend from the knee soreness that kept him out of the lineup thus far. After practicing all week, he is expected to start Sunday also.

Justin Fargas, RB and Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders: The bye week helped both Oakland running backs, but one is clearly healthier than the other at this point. Fargas, who suffered a groin injury in Week 3 that caused him to miss Week 4, took advantage of the bye to get healthy. He practiced fully all week, is listed as probable and is expected to start.

McFadden has been dealing with a turf toe injury for several weeks that clearly limited him in Week 4. The bye week also afforded him some much-needed rest, but the fact that McFadden was still wearing a protective boot early this week let on that the toe was not 100 percent. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports that McFadden feels much better but is still stiff and still requires protection in his shoe. McFadden is listed as questionable but is expected to play Sunday. Given their relative health, expect Fargas to get the bulk of the work this week.

Brian Griese, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In a move that surprises no one, Jeff Garcia has been announced as this week's starting quarterback in Tampa Bay. Griese took a hit last week that left him with a bruised elbow and a shoulder strain in his throwing arm, and although he is listed as questionable, it is more likely that Luke McCown will serve as Garcia's backup. Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times reported that inflammation in Griese's elbow has essentially kept him from being able to throw at all this week, and unless that changes Sunday morning, which appears unlikely at this point, he will be in street clothes. Griese's timeline for return really depends on how the inflammation resolves and how functional his arm is, something that will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis next week.

[+] EnlargeMarques Colston
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesDrew Brees is probably counting down the days until Marques Colston is available to throw to.
Marques Colston, WR and Jeremy Shockey, TE, New Orleans Saints: The injury-plagued Saints appear to have been sharing tainted drinking water with the Seahawks. It now appears the Saints will be without the services of defensive tackle Antwan Lake as a result of a groin injury. Lake was filling in for the injured Sedrick Ellis, who is still recovering from knee surgery to address a torn meniscus. Wide receiver David Patten (doubtful) will likely miss another week because of his groin injury.

Everyone is looking for some good news on the injury front in New Orleans and Colston may be just the spark. But don't get too excited yet. Colston, coming off ligament-repair surgery in his thumb, is listed as questionable and may not see the field just yet. Colston came out of his cast last week and was able to participate in practice to some degree this week, wearing only limited padding on his thumb. In fact, Colston told the New Orleans Times-Picayune how surprisingly good his thumb felt when catching the ball: "I really don't feel it out there and I'm catching the ball well. It really doesn't feel like I'm trying to catch the ball any different."

Nevertheless, he is still on the early side of recovery and the medical staff needs to feel confident that no matter what Colston might encounter on the field, he will not be at risk for a setback. It's not just catching the ball and holding onto it, which certainly requires a great deal of thumb control and an ability to absorb impact. He has to be able to hit that thumb against a helmet or the ground and have that repair hold up. As much as they would like to see him active, the Saints may just have him sit tight another week. In fact, if he does suit up, expect him to see limited action.

Meanwhile, much was made of Shockey's return to practice Wednesday following sports hernia surgery a few weeks ago. Shockey did not practice Thursday or Friday, however, suggesting, as does his doubtful tag, that he will not see action for at least another week.

Other noteworthy items

&#8226 Cleveland Browns star tight end Kellen Winslow has spent the past two nights in a local hospital after not feeling well earlier in the week. There has been no word thus far as to the nature of the injury, but certainly hospitalization affords Winslow the chance to be observed and to ensure that he is receiving appropriate fluids and any necessary medications. The Browns have him listed as questionable for Monday night, but in addition to recovering from the illness itself, one concern has to be weakness after being in this state for a few days. Stay tuned.

&#8226 Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Lloyd is listed as doubtful with his sprained knee. Lloyd has yet to practice and the doubtful tag makes it virtually certain that he will not play. Expect his status to be shaky at best for the next couple of weeks.

&#8226 Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White dismissed his collision with Lawyer Milloy on Wednesday as minor, and it appears the team held him out of practice Thursday as a precautionary measure. But White did not practice Friday either and is now listed as a game-time decision. Head injuries are nothing to sneeze at, but White's injury was not seen as serious enough to require any formal testing. The rest may have been a means of ensuring he would be available for Sunday and it sounds as if he will play. The game is early, so fantasy owners should check inactive lists before game time, but there is reason to be optimistic.

&#8226 It looks as if there will be another backup quarterback starting Sunday, this time in Detroit. Jon Kitna has been dealing with lower back spasms that began during last week's game, and he is listed as doubtful. Backup Dan Orlovsky reportedly injured his ankle last week, yet he is listed as probable and it sounds as if he will get the start ahead of Drew Stanton. Receivers Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson were both listed as questionable this week; Johnson has a minor knee ailment, the result of banging it in practice earlier in the week, and Williams has been bothered by his hip. Both were held out of practice Friday but are expected to play Sunday.

&#8226 New England has listed running back LaMont Jordan as doubtful with a calf injury and running back Laurence Maroney as questionable with his shoulder injury. While Jordan did not practice all week and is almost certain to sit, Maroney practiced fully Wednesday but then saw limited action Thursday and Friday. He has not divulged even the slightest bit of information relative to his shoulder but acknowledges that he has "issues" he is trying to address, and sounds less than 100 percent. Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk may be your guys this week.

&#8226 San Diego Chargers receiver Chris Chambers managed to injure his ankle on the last play of the team's loss to Miami on Sunday. He was unable to practice all week, is listed as doubtful and is unlikely to play. Teammate Vincent Jackson is listed as probable after missing a day of practice Thursday with a sore knee. Jackson was back full-bore Friday and is expected to start, especially in light of Chambers' situation.

&#8226 Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal is listed as questionable because of an ankle bruise that kept him out of practice Wednesday and limited him the remainder of the week. ESPN's John Clayton said Royal will be a game-time decision. With Tony Scheffler and Selvin Young out this week, Denver's offense could be in a bit of trouble.

Out: This is a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to Injured Reserve status, who are officially added to the "out" listing for Week 6.

Brian Westbrook, RB and Reggie Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook's absence this week is not a huge surprise although it is a huge disappointment for fantasy owners. Westbrook has two broken ribs along with a still-recovering right ankle and, with a bye in Week 7, the Eagles have to be hoping that this will get him to a healthy place for the remainder of the season. Brown is dealing with his third soft tissue injury of the season (Achilles, hamstring, now groin) and will sit this one out.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Despite the fact Boldin was not officially ruled out until Friday, his absence does not come as a major surprise. Boldin is still recuperating from a procedure to address a sinus fracture. The Cardinals have a week off in Week 7, but you can expect him back in action in Week 8.

Joey Galloway, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Galloway is out again. The difference this week is that Galloway did some limited practice. Very limited in fact, as in just one day of light work. Apparently his foot is still healing. But at least that is some progress to report and with any hope, he'll be steadily increasing his activity from here.

Terence Newman, CB, Dallas Cowboys: Officially listed as out because of an abdominal injury, there have been murmurings that Newman has a sports hernia that could require surgery and cause him to miss more than a month. Whenever an athlete has a groin injury followed by an abdominal injury, it begins to sound like a sports hernia. This is not good news for the Cowboys' secondary, because they have their fair share of challenges all around.

Tony Scheffler, TE and Selvin Young, RB, Denver Broncos: Groin injuries for everyone. Scheffler was on crutches after injuring himself in Week 5, so his absence from the lineup this week is not much of a surprise. Early on, it sounded as if this could be a more serious injury, but coach Mike Shanahan told the Denver Post he expects Scheffler to return for next week's Monday night game in New England. Shanahan offered essentially the same prognosis for Young, who has the same injury and did not practice all week either.

Be sure to check out our site Sunday for pregame chats and Fantasy Football Now at noon ET. Good luck in Week 6!

Broncos-Texans pregame update

December, 13, 2007
The Texans and the Broncos face off Thursday night and there are still several question marks at key positions heading into the game.

Ron Dayne, RB, Texans: Dayne has been nursing a sore ankle and there has been some question as to whether he would play at all. Megan Mannful of the Houston Chronicle reports that Dayne "didn't sound convincing" when saying he hoped to play through the pain. As of Thursday morning, Dayne had not practiced, but coach Kubiak is still holding out hope that he can play some. If "some" is what the Texans are hoping for out of Dayne, he is not a good fantasy option. Darius Walker is expected to get the start here.

Selvin Young and Travis Henry, RB, Broncos: Both Young and Henry are relatively healthy this week, meaning we will likely see a heavy dose of each in Thursday's game. According to the Rocky Mountain News, Young has 52 friends and family members attending tonight's game, no doubt providing extra performance incentive. He may well be the better fantasy start.

Brandon Stokley, WR, Broncos: Stokley has had trouble with each knee at some point this season, most recently his left, which was injured in the game against the Raiders. Stokley did not practice this week and is questionable to play. He remains a game-time decision, but even if he does play, he will not be 100 percent.

Javon Walker, WR, Broncos: Despite the promising outcome post-arthroscopic surgery, Walker has really not been able to get back to full strength and doesn't believe he will until the offseason. In the meantime, the knee continues to limit his performance and he is questionable to play in Thursday night's contest. The Rocky Mountain News reports that Walker claims he is not fully ready, "but better." He did manage to practice some this week, but clearly is still limited. He, like Stokley, will go through pregame warm-ups to determine whether he is well enough to take the field. Too risky for a fantasy option.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: It's safe to say that you already know that Sage Rosenfels will be starting Thursday in place of the injured Schaub, who is still recovering from a dislocated left (non-throwing) shoulder. According to an Associated Press report, Schaub still hopes to make it back in time for one of the Texans' final two games. Schaub was scheduled to get a second opinion on his shoulder to determine the best course of action. With no definitive word and the fantasy playoffs upon you, it is probably best to plan on another quarterback option throughout the remainder of the season.

Broncos RB carousel continues

December, 5, 2007

Well, it finally happened. My injury-laden fantasy team in our GMC Pro Grade League finally succumbed in a loss that pushed me out of playoff contention. But not without a fight! Despite the multiple injuries over the season, which forced me to nearly completely renew my roster, I lost by a hair (six points) to Matthew Berry, the Talented Mr. Roto, he of the high-scoring Tom Brady, Wes Welker, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Justin Fargas crew. In fact, had Brett Favre, whom I just recently acquired via trade because of the recent injuries to Donovan McNabb, not left Thursday's game with an injury, I am confident that I would have won. I guess my point is two-fold: 1) Berry can mock my undying loyalty to my 49ers, but he cannot gloat in his barely eked-out victory, and 2) I believe that I have demonstrated, by virtue of my injury-laden team, that I understand and sympathize with fantasy owners everywhere whose teams have been decimated by those unpredictable injuries that can make all the difference between agony and ecstasy.

So for those of you fortunate enough to have made the playoffs, and for those of you just trying to spoil the playoff dreams of others, here are some of the injuries fantasy owners should be aware of early this week. Keep in mind that the Thursday matchup will feature Chicago at Washington.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Well, it seems the questions about Peterson's readiness to return have been answered. He looked remarkably solid in his first outing since tearing his lateral collateral ligament, brace and all. The Vikings somewhat limited Peterson's activity as planned -- he had 15 carries and did not appear in the fourth quarter -- but he is so dangerous whenever he touches the ball that his numbers made it seem as if he played the entire game. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson felt as good as he has all year after Sunday's outing, so we can expect to see him and Chester Taylor utilized in tandem the rest of the season.

Marshawn Lynch, Bills: Coach Dick Jauron still is being cautious about Lynch's status for Sunday, saying Lynch has made a lot of progress but he doesn't want to "overstep it right now." Jauron's comments on the Bills' Web site are the most positive since Lynch's injury about four weeks ago, but they are necessarily guarded, given the nature of the injury (high ankle sprain). Lynch will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis as he practices throughout the week, and we should have a better idea of his status late in the week.

Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, Giants: The Giants have made it official. Ward has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a broken fibula in Sunday's contest. So will Jacobs make it back this week? It appears that way if you listen to coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin told the New York Daily News that all along, the plan has been for Jacobs to return this week, and he is not being rushed back because of Ward's injury. That sounds reasonable. Now, let's hope Jacobs can not only make it back, but also stay to finish out the year healthy.

Selvin Young and Travis Henry, Broncos: Young appeared to be the healthier back headed into Sunday's game and, in fact, was the starter. But he managed to sustain yet another injury, this one to his arm, according to the Denver Post, and his status is uncertain for this week. Meanwhile, Henry received word from the NFL that he won his suspension appeal, so now his game availability depends only on his health. Henry was able to get back in the lineup last week, so if Young cannot go, Henry likely will start. There always are more running backs to be found in Denver, though, so starting does not necessarily translate into more fantasy points. It is worth watching the practice reports throughout the week to see how the running back lineup is shaping up.

Larry Johnson, Chiefs: Johnson already has been ruled out for Week 14, but the Chiefs continue to be guarded in their statements regarding Johnson's status for the season. In comments made on the Chiefs' Web site, coach Herm Edwards reinforced the idea that no decision has been made, saying only that Johnson is "getting better" and the team will continue to evaluate him. He did say that if the star back were to return too soon and re-injure his foot, it could result in Johnson requiring surgery, which always is the potential scenario for a mid-foot injury. It is not totally clear what is going on with Johnson and the Chiefs. Johnson being ruled out so early in the week suggests he is a long way from being able to return. Yet the Chiefs continue, at least outwardly, to indicate there is hope he will return this season. Perhaps there is some motivational incentive; the potential of getting back on the field might help Johnson maintain the intensity of his rehabilitation. And he might yet return, but it remains just a possibility, not one worth taking up a spot on your fantasy roster.

LenDale White, Titans: According to the Tennessean, White (dislocated middle finger) is expected to play Sunday against the Chargers. On Monday, we mentioned fumble concerns as a possibility, especially if the finger remains sore and swollen. Given Chris Brown's effectiveness Sunday after White exited the game, there could be concern Brown will steal some action from White this week, especially if White shows any signs of struggling with the finger.


Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay: According to the St. Petersburg Times, Garcia said his back is feeling better by the day and he expects to return to practice Wednesday. Despite some residual soreness, Garcia plans to play Sunday against the Texans while his mobility and flexibility continue to improve. It still is wise to check back at the end of the week, but at this point, it sounds as if he is preparing to make his return.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles: has reported that McNabb is expected to return this week from the thumb and ankle injuries that have caused him to miss two straight games. Coach Andy Reid said McNabb can grip the football well now but might wear a brace on his hand to protect the thumb. The bigger concern is his mobility with the ankle, but Reid said McNabb moved around better in practice last week. Nonetheless, he held McNabb out of Sunday's contest because he did not feel he was ready to go from a health standpoint, and the extra rest no doubt has helped the quarterback. Barring a setback in practice this week, expect McNabb to get the green light Sunday.

Marc Bulger, Rams: According to a report by ESPN's Len Pasquarelli, Bulger underwent another battery of tests Tuesday as a follow-up to his concussion a week ago and was cleared to return to practice Wednesday. The Rams are optimistic that Bulger will be available Sunday, but it should be noted that he will be monitored throughout the week to ensure his symptoms do not return as his practice activity increases. Bulger's replacement, Gus Frerotte, suffered a shoulder injury Sunday that might keep him out for at least one game. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Frerotte has a sprained shoulder and a partial tear of the labrum, the ring of cartilage that helps reinforce the shoulder joint. Frerotte injured the shoulder in the third quarter of Sunday's contest but was able to return to finish the game; however, the shoulder was much more sore the next day, prompting the additional tests. If neither Bulger or Frerotte is able to go, it could be Brock Berlin. Fantasy owners, keep your fingers crossed that practice agrees with Bulger.

Brodie Croyle, Chiefs: Croyle sat out last week's contest with a sore bruised back but could make his return Sunday if, as coach Herm Edwards said on the Chiefs' Web site, he's "mobile enough to get out of the way." Edwards also said that although the Chiefs would like to see Croyle back in the lineup, the team will not risk putting him in there if he is not fully recovered. Croyle is expected to return to practice Wednesday, and his progress, particularly his mobility, will be evaluated throughout the week.

Alex D. Smith, 49ers: Smith has sat out the 49ers' past two games because of lingering pain in his shoulder (a Grade III, or complete, separation) and his forearm (tendinitis, which developed after he injured the shoulder, possibly while trying to rehabilitate the arm). Smith might yet face shoulder surgery, but before that decision is made, Smith will try to throw this week, according to ESPN's Len Pasquarelli. Smith will see how the arm feels while throwing and then will consult with the medical staff to evaluate his status. Either way, he is not a factor for the remainder of the fantasy season (not that he was much of a factor beforehand). His progress will be relevant for next year, so we will monitor him with that in mind.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Roy Williams, Lions: Williams sprained his posterior cruciate ligament Sunday and, according to a report in the Detroit News, is expected to miss the last four games of the season. ESPN's John Clayton is reporting that the Lions do not plan to put Williams on season-ending injured reserve in the hope that he can heal quickly, but it is a slim hope. This is an injury similar to the one that kept Broncos running back Travis Henry out four weeks and Texans receiver Andre Johnson out eight weeks. Coach Rod Marinelli said the ligament is not torn, usually a reference to the ligament not being completely torn, since any sprain reflects some degree of injury to the tissue, even if microscopic. The timeframe will depend on how long it takes any swelling and pain to subside, and the amount of tissue healing that needs to take place. Williams then would need to regain his strength and mobility, as well as the confidence that his knee is stable enough to support him running, cutting and jumping. That is a lot to ask in less than four weeks. Nonetheless, if the injury is minor, there is a chance he could return, but it is a small one. If Williams is on your fantasy roster, you need to find a replacement that you can count on for the duration of the season.

Santonio Holmes, Steelers: Holmes, who missed the past three games with a high ankle sprain, could return in Week 14, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Coach Mike Tomlin said "it depends on how [he] perform[s] in practice." Even mild high-ankle sprains often require about four weeks before a player can return, so Holmes is just now coming up on that mark. Practice will resume Wednesday, meaning we won't have a real indicator as to whether Holmes is likely to play until late in the week. Stay tuned.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back later in the week when we check further Week 14 updates. We also will quickly touch on any Thursday game injuries at that time.

The tragic death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor has cast a pall over the NFL this week, as the Taylor family, the Redskins family and the NFL family at large grieve together. In the spirit of the saying, "the show must go on" the Redskins will put forth their best effort this weekend, no doubt with heavy hearts. We offer our condolences to everyone affected by this sad event as we look toward Week 13.

Here are some of the injuries fantasy owners should be aware of early this week. Keep in mind the Thursday matchup between Green Bay and host Dallas.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: It appears that Peterson will make his eagerly anticipated return this week from a torn lateral collateral ligament. Peterson has been working his way back, gradually increasing his activity over the last week to the point where he even tested the leg in pregame warm-ups this past Sunday. The team decided Peterson was not quite ready to join the fray, but the fact that he looked so good only two weeks post-injury, combined with the additional week of practice, makes his return all the more likely this Sunday. This would still be a relatively speedy comeback from a Grade II (plus) ligament tear, but the Vikings have no doubt taken all the risks of reinjury into account and weighed those against the progress of their young superstar to determine his readiness to play. Additionally, as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, Peterson had a repeat MRI to assess the LCL, and according to coach Brad Childress it showed "excellent healing" of the ligament. If Peterson does indeed return Sunday, he will be wearing a brace to provide some additional lateral joint reinforcement for the knee. Childress went on to point out that Peterson would be eased back into the rotation as a component of returning him to game-level conditioning. As the week goes on, we should have a better idea of whether Peterson will play for sure, and how much he'll be utilized.

Ricky Williams and Jesse Chatman, Dolphins: Well, the Ricky Williams 2007 chapter ended almost as soon as it began. Williams was stepped on while he was prone on the ground following a fumble during Monday night's game, which resulted in a torn pectoral (chest) muscle, according to the Palm Beach Post. It appeared that the cleat of Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons landed on Williams' right scapula (shoulder blade), which sits atop the rib cage. To make matters worse, Williams was actually propped on his right elbow, putting a stretch on the pectoral muscles and making them more at risk for injury should someone happen to, say, come down hard on the back of the ribs. The force of Timmons' leg pushed the scapula, and therefore the ribs, forward, placing a sudden harsh stretch on the anterior ribs where the chest muscles attach. Torn muscles need approximately six to eight weeks of rest to allow the primary tissue to heal, clearly putting an end to Williams' 2007 season. Williams' arm will be in a sling for that period of time to minimize any stretching on the muscle during the healing. He will then need to undergo physical therapy to get his range of motion and strength back in the chest, shoulder and arm. The total recovery time could be as long as five to six months. I guess we'll be waiting until 2008 to see the real return of Williams. Meanwhile, Chatman entered Monday night's contest with an ankle injury that had him operating at less than 100 percent, and it showed as he struggled during the game. Chatman then sustained a neck injury in the third quarter on a tough collision which forced him out of the game. His return for this week is questionable. The Dolphins have indicated that Samkon Gado, re-signed after Williams' injury, would get the start this Sunday if Chatman is unable to go. We will keep an eye on practice reports throughout the week to see how this is shaping up.

Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, Giants: Apparently, Jacobs is getting an introduction to the slow-healing nature of hamstring injuries. Jacobs, who said that until now he had never suffered a hamstring injury, did not initially think the injury was serious. Nonetheless, it has already caused him to miss one week, and he looks to be on track to miss another. According to the (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, Jacobs has not yet been cleared to practice. Last week, I said count on two to four weeks, because even minor hamstring injuries can cause significant limitations. That still looks like a reasonable timetable for Jacobs. Teammate Derrick Ward has been dealing with an ongoing ankle problem, and more recently, a groin injury. Ward, who also missed Sunday's game, may be able to return to full practice for the first time in weeks. As the week goes on, we should have a better idea of who will start at running back for the Giants. At this point it looks more like Reuben Droughns or Ward, less like Jacobs.

Ahman Green, Texans: The Texans indicated that Green could make a return this week, according to their official Web site. It is reasonable to be skeptical. Green has been struggling with ongoing knee swelling and has not been able to make it on the field. The Texans are keeping a spot for him, but your fantasy team should not. Even if he does return, it is likely to be in a very limited fashion, with Ron Dayne still seeing the majority of the work.

Selvin Young, Travis Henry, Andre Hall, Broncos: Henry has yet to hear the official word regarding his appeal, and while he waits, his knee recovers. It looks as if Henry will be available to the Broncos in Week 13, and according to the Denver Post, Henry (partially torn PCL) thinks he will "definitely" be well enough to play. Young is expected to try to play as he recovers from his own knee injury. Meanwhile, Hall, who stepped in when Henry and Young were both out, suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday (although he did continue to play after the injury, suggesting it is on the mild side) and his status is uncertain. The practice reports will definitely be key in Denver this week to see how this running back situation is shaping up.

Larry Johnson, Chiefs: Coach Herm Edwards told the Kansas City Star that Johnson is still rehabilitating his foot and is not expected to play this week. This is not a surprise, but it does confirm what we already suspected. Expect that to continue for at least two more weeks.

Cedric Benson, Bears: Benson did indeed suffer a season-ending injury last week, an injury that will require surgery to repair. Benson broke his leg (the fibula; the skinny bone on the outer aspect) above the ankle. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, he will undergo surgery to have hardware installed (a plate and screws) to stabilize the fracture. He will then face a lengthy rehab primarily directed at getting his ankle mobility back (which he loses while his ankle is immobilized during the fracture healing process). After getting his range of motion back, Benson will need to regain his strength and conditioning, and ultimately his directional movement. It is a lengthy rehab process, but one that should have him ready for next season. Unfortunately for Benson, he was just starting to make some gains in his ground game when the injury occurred. This latest setback certainly does not help. In Benson's absence, it appears that Adrian Peterson will become the starting running back in Chicago.


Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay: Garcia injured his back during Sunday's game and exited for a period of time. He returned in the fourth quarter, but his mobility and effectiveness were limited by his sore back. Nursing what the Tampa Tribune is calling a deep lower back bruise, Garcia said Tuesday that he could barely even throw the ball. This may be soreness and stiffness talking, and he may be able to work that out before Sunday. Garcia is tough and he's a gamer, so we can expect that he will try his best to make it back to face the Saints. If he is unable to increase his activity over the next few days, he will be sidelined. In that case, it appears, according to the St. Petersburg Times, that Luke McCown is in line to get the start, not Bruce Gradkowski. Fantasy owners should make preparations in the event that Garcia is not able to play. We will, of course, update his status later in the week.

Donovan McNabb, Eagles: McNabb sat out Sunday night's game with a sprained ankle and a jammed thumb. He may be sitting out again. McNabb will be evaluated as practice goes on throughout the week to see if the ankle and thumb continue to limit him. Coach Andy Reid, according to an Associated Press report, said he wants to have McNabb at 100 percent before he puts him back out on the field. A.J. Feeley, coming off a very decent performance against the New England Patriots, could see another start if McNabb can't operate at 100 percent.

Marc Bulger, Rams: Bulger says that he feels better now than he did on Sunday, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He acknowledged the seriousness of any head injury and says he will await the results of follow-up tests with team doctors but does expect to play Sunday. We will see if Bulger is able to practice as the week goes on.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Patrick Crayton, Cowboys: Crayton sat out the Thanksgiving Day game because of a left ankle sprain that he sustained the Sunday before. Crayton told the Cowboys' official Web site on Monday that he is "good to go" and expects to play Thursday against the Packers. It does not appear that he will be hampered by the ankle.

Javon Walker, Broncos: Walker saw limited action in his Week 12 return to the Broncos. Not to worry, though. Coach Mike Shanahan says Walker will be integrated more into the offense in Week 13, according to the Broncos' official Web site. It is not unreasonable that Walker was kept to some restricted activity in his return, especially since he had developed some minor swelling earlier in the week, and the field conditions on his return were less than optimal. Walker could have a nice performance this Sunday.

D.J. Hackett, Seahawks: Coach Mike Holmgren confirmed to the Tacoma News-Tribune that Hackett had aggravated his previously injured ankle. He indicated that Hackett is expected to miss at least two games. The extent of this injury is unclear, but keep in mind that Hackett missed six games earlier this season with the initial injury. This latest projection sounds as if it was a minor setback, but again, given the area of the ankle, it is best to take a conservative approach. Although Hackett could conceivably make it back by Week 15, he could also very easily be held back if the ankle is at all tentative. It's probably best to find a fantasy alternative with the expectation that Hackett may not be available in time to help your team.

Greg Jennings and Donald Driver, Packers: Although neither receiver was in pads in Monday's practice, both are expected to suit up against the Cowboys. Both receivers participated in some team drills, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, and it appears that both will be in fine shape for Thursday's game.

Marvin Harrison, Colts: It's speculation time again. There is some buzz that Harrison will return to the field this week, after missing what seems like an eternity with ongoing inflammation related to a bursa in his knee, all resulting from a hard fall on the turf. The bottom line is that this remains a day-to-day situation, and until Harrison really tests the knee in practice (which then will tell us whether he has pain, more inflammation, or both in response to such tests), it is hard to project whether he will, in fact, play. Remember, coach Tony Dungy was quoted more than once as saying he really expected Harrison would play (and I believe he meant what he said), but then Harrison's knee would not cooperate and he wound up unavailable on game day. Frustrating as it is for fantasy owners, imagine how Harrison feels. He does not want to be sitting on the sidelines here. This has really become a strategic management issue and the Colts' goal is to try to keep Harrison healthy for as long and as late in the season as they can. With that in mind, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and know that we will update you later in the week as the situation develops.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back later in the week when we check further Week 13 updates. We will also quickly touch on any Thursday game injuries at that time.

Brandon Jacobs out again

November, 23, 2007

OUT: The following players have been listed as officially out for Week 12 Sunday games.

Steve McNair, QB, Ravens: McNair's left shoulder still is listed as the official reason for him sitting out.

Demetrius Williams, WR, Ravens: An ankle injury will keep Williams out of the lineup this week.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs: We detailed what we know about his injury on Wednesday. You can expect to see him on this list for a while longer.

Ahman Green, RB, Texans: As expected, Green did not practice this week and is not expected to play, according to the Houston Chronicle. Ron Dayne likely will get the start again for the Texans.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: Lynch has not practiced all week and has been ruled out for this Sunday's game. To make matters worse, the Bills' Web site reports that Lynch has a high ankle sprain. Originally reported as an ankle sprain, Lynch's injury immediately becomes more serious because of the location. High ankle sprains, as we have reported many times, generally are more difficult to recover from and can be easily aggravated if a player returns too soon (see Michael Pittman). We will check back in on Lynch next week. Until he begins to test the ankle in practice, it will be difficult to project his timetable. Anthony Thomas will get the start in Lynch's place.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Jacobs is out with a hamstring injury (more information below).

Travis Henry, RB, Broncos: Henry continues to struggle with his left knee (PCL sprain) and did not practice all week. Keep an eye on him as he could return in Week 13, contingent on his knee healing enough and him winning his appeal.

Here's what we know so far about other players with injury concerns heading into Sunday.

Running Backs

Selvin Young, Broncos: Young, who injured his knee in Monday night's game (no specifics given by the team), did not practice until Friday, when he did limited work. According to the Broncos' Web site, Young will test his leg before the game (late start Sunday) to see if he will be able to play. Andre Hall will get the start if Young cannot go Sunday.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: Peterson (torn LCL) has taken part in very limited practice this week, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, wearing a knee brace all the while. Although he has not been officially ruled out, do not expect him to play this weekend, despite the upgrade to questionable. It sounds as if the Vikings are suggesting he could return very soon, but again, I believe he really needs to show he can do everything in practice before the Vikings risk putting him back on the field (see Wednesday blog).

Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, Giants: Jacobs missed practice all week with a sore hamstring and is out for Sunday. According to a report in Newsday, Jacobs and coach Tom Coughlin gave the impression earlier in the week that Jacobs would miss Sunday's game. The major concern, as it always is with a hamstring injury, is that it could get worse and end up costing Jacobs more missed time overall. With other capable backs in the wings, the Giants are smart to play it cautious. But then there's Ward, who also is currently hampered by lingering injuries. Ward has been dealing with an ankle sprain, which reportedly is much improved, and a groin strain, which he sounds less confident about. Ward's comment -- "You never know. It might regress, it might progress" -- does not exactly evoke optimism. Ward has been a limited participant in practice, and his status may well come down to a game-time decision. Reuben Droughns looks to get the start Sunday, and the Giants' Web site quotes Coughlin as saying that Ahmad Bradshaw is the No. 2.

Reggie Bush, Saints: Bush was limited in practice all week with a shin bruise, but coach Sean Payton is hopeful that Bush can play Sunday, according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He will be a game-time decision.

Shaun Alexander, Seahawks: Insert last week's report here. Alexander has not practiced, and if he does not practice, he does not play, according to coach Mike Holmgren. The Tacoma News Tribune reported that Alexander also is trying to get rid of the cast. Apparently that is not going to happen, but the medical staff is trying to find a way to make the cast smaller. Once again, expect Maurice Morris to start in Alexander's place.

Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham, Buccaneers: Pittman, who worked so hard to get back to the playing field, re-injured his still-healing high ankle sprain, perhaps seriously, and is out indefinitely. There has been some speculation that Pittman could be put on injured reserve, but that does not appear to have been decided yet. According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, Pittman's swelling is severe, but the athletic training staff expects him to make a return in a few weeks. Meanwhile, Graham still is nursing a sore ankle and has been limited in practice this week, but he is expected to play.

Jesse Chatman, Dolphins: The Dolphins most certainly don't need this. Chatman has an ankle problem that limited him in practice the whole week. The Orlando Sun-Sentinel reported Chatman still is limping, which does not help his chances to play Monday night. Granted, there are a few days before the game, but if Chatman is limping now, he will not be at his best come Monday. Could this signal the return of Ricky Williams? It more likely signals some increased action for Patrick Cobbs at this point, but stay tuned to this scenario, because if Chatman's ankle problem lingers, there might be a new starting running back in Miami right around the time of fantasy playoffs.


Donovan McNabb, Eagles: McNabb has two problems that kept him out of practice all week: a sprained ankle and a jammed thumb. Coach Andy Reid told the Associated Press that McNabb "has gotten a little better each day." Neither of these injuries appears particularly serious, but they could be just bad enough to either keep McNabb from starting Sunday night, which appears more likely, or keep him from performing effectively if he does play. Either way, with the game being on Sunday night, and the opponent being the Patriots, this probably is one for fantasy owners to avoid.

Receivers/Tight Ends

Santonio Holmes, Steelers: Holmes is recovering from a high ankle sprain and remains doubtful for Monday's game.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals: Houshmandzadeh participated in full practice Friday after resting earlier in the week with a bruised back. He is listed as probable and is expected to play. Houshmandzadeh still is feeling soreness in his back and told the Bengals' Web site that if he can't tolerate the pain, he won't play. Given that comment, be sure to check his status before game time, but with the probable designation, it does appear he will be active.

Javon Walker, Broncos: Walker had good practice sessions this week and is looking like he will return Sunday. Walker has made nice, steady progress, and although he is reported to have had some swelling after Thursday's practice, he expects to play, according to the Broncos' Web site. His status is questionable, so be sure to check Sunday's inactive reports before the game.

Reggie Williams, Jaguars: Williams is a late addition to the injury reports with a back problem. He is listed as questionable after being limited in practice Friday. If you have him on your roster, be sure to check before game time.

Todd Heap, Ravens: Hopefully you have found a fantasy replacement for Todd Heap by now. He is listed as doubtful again this week because of the lingering problems with his hamstring. Despite his efforts to return, the hamstring has not cooperated, and there is no telling when his leg will be healthy enough to allow him to come back.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back this weekend when we have the latest practice reports before the games, as well as a few IDP additions.

All is not well in Kansas City

November, 21, 2007

Things are really starting to shake up. Real football now takes place on Thursdays, in addition to Sundays and Mondays. Fantasy football playoff qualifiers are being determined and every week means potential elimination for some unlucky owners. In other news, the sun continues to rise and set every day and the Patriots are still winning.

With regards to the injuries, here's what we know so far heading into Week 12.

Due to the upcoming Thanksgiving Day games, the layout is a bit different this week. Key players involved in Thursday's games are listed first, followed by the Sunday/Monday crowd.

Thanksgiving Day

Green Bay at Detroit

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers Grant reportedly has a mild ankle sprain (likely Grade I, which means minimal structural damage). He is being held out of practice early in the week to rest the ankle with the expectation that he will play this Thursday.

Kevin Jones, RB, Lions: Jones is dealing with some soreness in his surgically repaired foot, and the thought was that he would be limited somewhat in his activity Sunday, in anticipation of a short week. According to coach Rod Marinelli, Jones emerged from Sunday's game "fine" and is expected to play Thursday.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions: Johnson will also play, although the Lions acknowledge that his action has been somewhat limited due to his still ailing back. Marinelli told The Detroit News that Johnson's back is one factor in determining how much he is utilized but indicated that the Lions' offensive schemes, which sometimes call for Johnson to play a decoy role, are another. If Johnson were 100 percent, he would be more involved, according to quarterback Jon Kitna. Johnson made a nice leaping catch in the end zone Sunday, and I was watching in particular to see how he looked getting up after landing on his back. He stood up without hesitation, which was a good sign. At times he appears a bit less acrobatic in some of his catches, still lifting his sizeable 6-foot-5 frame over defenders, but perhaps without quite the same separation we saw early in the season, suggesting that his power is a bit limited because of the lingering soreness and stiffness. As time goes on, those things will continue to improve, barring any setback, and Johnson will likely find himself becoming a more frequent target.

New York (Jets) at Dallas:

Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets: The Newark Star-Ledger reports that the Jets' star receiver sustained a high left ankle sprain Sunday and is unlikely to play on Thanksgiving Day. The Star-Ledger cites an unnamed source who spoke with Coles after the game. The Jets are not very revealing when it comes to injuries so we may not get confirmation from the team that it is, in fact, a high ankle sprain. Assuming that is the case, however, we know that these tend to be a bit slower to resolve than a typical lateral ankle sprain. One thing to point out is that Coles did attempt to return to the game last week after the initial injury, meaning it did not appear severe when tested on the sideline, which should translate to a quicker return time. Coles is tough; he missed his first start in more than three years just three weeks ago when he was sidelined with a concussion. If the injury is mild, he could return in Week 13, but until the Jets initiate Week 13 practice, we probably won't hear anything more. He is a good candidate to keep on your fantasy roster because he very well could return within another week or two.

Patrick Crayton, Cowboys: Crayton sprained his ankle during the first quarter of Sunday's game, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Crayton managed to finish the game, indicating that the injury could not have been too severe. It was bad enough to keep Crayton out of practice Tuesday and to cause Wade Phillips to say that Crayton might miss Thursday's game. He is expected to be a game-time decision so be sure to check the inactives Thursday.

Colts at Falcons

Marvin Harrison, WR, Colts: His still-inflamed knee is expected to cause him to miss the Thanksgiving Day game, and he won't have Aaron Moorehead to back him up. Moorehead was placed on injured reserve by the Colts after experiencing a flare-up of a chronic back problem last week. According to coach Tony Dungy, Anthony Gonzalez, who has been out with a hand injury, will likely be back in the lineup. Harrison is being projected to perhaps return in Week 13, but whenever the timing is dependent on the resolution of swelling, especially swelling that has been lingering for nearly six weeks, understand that the reliability of the projection is questionable.

Byron Leftwich, QB, Falcons: Leftwich returned to play Sunday after being out following ankle surgery. His ankle seemed solid yet his performance was anything but, and Joey Harrington replaced him in the third quarter. Apparently, Leftwich also suffered a tailbone injury during the game and has not been able to practice. Harrington will get the start over Leftwich on Thanksgiving Day.


Running Backs

Larry Johnson, Chiefs: reports that Johnson traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to meet with Dr. Robert Anderson, the same physician who performed Kevin Jones' surgery, for an evaluation of his foot. The report states that Johnson has a Lisfranc injury and that the main question was whether Johnson would require surgery to repair the condition. The Chiefs have not issued any formal statement as to the exact nature of Johnson's condition, other than that he is dealing with a midfoot sprain. Last Thursday, the Kansas City Star reported that Johnson said he expected to return this season. Johnson described all of the rehabilitation he has been doing, and without disclosing any specifics about the injury itself, remarked that the swelling had been severe initially but pointed out that he was now walking without a boot. On Monday the Kansas City Star quoted Chiefs president Carl Peterson as saying "If a patient doesn't want medical information out there, then (the doctor) is obligated, as we are, under the rules of HIPAA, of not going into detail." This statement clearly suggests that it is Johnson himself who is requesting that the organization keep the details surrounding his injury confidential, as he has the right to do. Peterson went on to say that the Chiefs would only report what was required by the NFL and that they would continue to evaluate Johnson on a week-to-week basis.

So what are the takeaways from this?

  1. We don't really know the severity of the injury. There has been speculation that Johnson has a fracture in his foot. That has neither been confirmed nor denied publicly by Johnson or the Chiefs. There are a few clues, however, as to how bad this midfoot injury might be. If it were definitely season-ending, the Chiefs would likely have acted by now to move Johnson to injured reserve, so as to open up another spot on the active roster. The Chiefs indicate that Johnson will be evaluated week-to-week, meaning they anticipate progress from week-to-week. Johnson has been seen walking about in a sock, out of the ankle boot, within two weeks of the injury. More severe injuries require a longer period of immobilization (4-6 weeks minimum), with the most severe cases resulting in surgery fairly soon after injury.

  2. Lisfranc injuries are not all created equal. There is a Lisfranc joint complex in the midsection of the foot (the name actually refers to the region of the foot as well as any injury associated with that region). Injuries to this area can be very serious (fracture/dislocation), especially if not properly diagnosed and managed early on, which is why teams become very nervous when they hear this name associated with an injury to one of their athletes. That being said, the injury can be less severe (sprain), requiring less immobilization time and no surgical intervention, which appears to be the case with Johnson. The injuries to the Lions' Kevin Jones, and most recently to the Colts' Dwight Freeney, are of the serious variety, requiring major surgery followed by lengthy rehab. (In Friday's blog we will examine the serious Lisfranc injury in more detail, specifically related to Dwight Freeney and Kevin Jones.)

  3. Keeping Johnson on your fantasy roster is a gamble. You now know why we do not know the specifics related to his time frame at this point. Assuming that the injury is, at best, only a sprain, with no fracture present, it would still likely be two-to-three weeks before Johnson could return, not likely in time to help out your fantasy team much. If you have already made the playoffs and can afford to keep him as an extra on your roster in the event that he returns, then do so. But if you need running-back help in the next few weeks, you should seek that help elsewhere.

Priest Holmes, Chiefs: Keeping it right here in the Chiefs' family, Holmes, who had stepped up his role in Johnson's absence, was shaken up during the second half of Sunday's game. There have since been reports that Holmes re-injured his neck, which coach Herm Edwards confirmed to ESPN's John Clayton, although he gave no detail as to the severity of the injury. Holmes reportedly has been visiting with medical specialists and conferring with family members and is scheduled for a Wednesday press conference. There has been speculation that he will announce his retirement, but the Chiefs have not confirmed that. Holmes originally suffered a concussion and a bruised spinal cord back in October, 2005. There was doubt at that time that Holmes would ever play football again, but after rehabbing extensively and working his way back towards football shape, Holmes made a comeback, albeit a brief one, in October of this year. While his efforts were admirable in terms of both his physical conditioning and mental resolve, there was always some concern about the potential consequences of another head or neck injury. It looks as if we may be seeing the end of a fabulous career. With teammate Larry Johnson out indefinitely, it looks as if rookie Kolby Smith may be forced into starting duties.

Ahman Green, Texans: Green continues to struggle with ongoing inflammation in his knee and there is no timetable for his return. Despite the efforts of coach Gary Kubiak to limit Green's practice during the week in order to save him for the weekend, Green's knee has prevented him from taking the field for the last few weeks. As ESPN's John Clayton reported, the Texans at this point are considering shutting Green down for the remainder of the season. If he is on your fantasy team, you should be searching for a replacement.

Selvin Young, Broncos: Young left Monday night's game with a "knee issue" according to the Denver Post. He did manage to return briefly, however, and the team says he is "fine." Practice reports this week will tell us if that really is the case.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings: According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Peterson (torn LCL) continues with his rehab progress, running on an underwater treadmill for the first time this week, which allows him to condition his cardiovascular system and get his running form back while minimizing joint, and therefore ligament, stresses. Coach Brad Childress has indicated that he does not expect Peterson to return to play this week (which would mark only two weeks since the injury) and the Vikings continue to approach this as a day-to-day situation. Childress did add that Peterson would wear a brace when he returns. Knee braces, although by no means a guarantee against further injury, are more effective at providing medial/lateral stability (more reinforcement for the medial collateral (MCL) and lateral collateral (LCL) ligaments) than rotational stability (ACL). It still remains to be seen what Peterson's true timetable is because he has yet to run on land, which will begin with straight in-line running. He then will have to progress through various drills and ultimately will need to demonstrate control in directional running and cutting (typically late in the progression), not to mention make it through complete practices, before he sees the field. Do not count on his return for another two-to-three weeks, and bear in mind that this is a sliding time scale depending on Peterson's response to each level of activity.

Brandon Jacobs, Giants: We're still not hearing much about the extent of Jacobs' hamstring injury. Jacobs said initially that he did not think it was serious, yet he hopped off the field grabbing his leg. That looked like more than a minor tweak. The New York Post states that coach Tom Coughlin, when asked how Jacobs was doing after undergoing some tests, merely stated "He's sore." If you look at the effect hamstring injuries have had on key fantasy players already this season (Rudi Johnson, Todd Heap), you know to hope for the best but expect the worst. Despite his protestations regarding the seriousness of the injury, expect Jacobs to be out of your lineup for two-to-four weeks, meaning, you may not have him back this fantasy season. Derrick Ward may be moved to action, but keep in mind that he has been out with ankle and groin injuries for several weeks and would be a risky fantasy start. Reuben Droughns and Ahmad Bradshaw are the next two Giants on the running-back depth chart, though the team signed veteran Patrick Pass this week.


Vince Young, Titans: Young suffered a quad contusion (bruise) on Monday night, on the same quad that he strained earlier in the season. In the Tennessean, coach Jeff Fisher said he expects Young to play this Sunday, even if he does not practice the entire week. When Young strained the muscle, he actually tore muscle fibers which had to repair themselves in order for the injury to heal. A contusion is a deep bruise to the muscle, and the main goal in the next few days is for the bruising and local swelling to dissipate, at which point the muscle function should vastly improve. Consequently this injury should not take as long to resolve.

Alex D. Smith, 49ers: Smith will not be returning any time soon. ESPN's Len Pasquarelli reports that Smith visited Dr. James Andrews for a consultation and was told that the shoulder may be in worse shape than at the time of the initial injury. Smith will continue with his rehab efforts (keep in mind that his forearm continues to be a problem as well) for two weeks and will then be re-evaluated. It sounds as if he is ultimately headed for surgery; the question is whether it will be during the season or afterward. To compound Smith's physical problems, he and coach Mike Nolan have exchanged some very public barbs recently, perhaps underlining the general frustration present in San Francisco. There is not a lot to suggest that Smith will be rushing back any time soon, if at all, this season.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Santonio Holmes, Steelers: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says it's a mild high ankle sprain that is affecting Holmes, and he is already listed as doubtful for next Monday night's game against the Dolphins. Even if the sprain is minor, the location (high) makes it a more serious injury. Expect him to miss two-to-four weeks, give or take.

Javon Walker, Broncos: Walker is optimistic, according to the Rocky Mountain News, that he will resume full practice this week and be ready to start Sunday at Chicago. Walker is recovering from an arthroscopic knee surgery on his previously ACL-reconstructed knee and has been progressing nicely. Prior to the surgery, Walker had been dealing with persistent swelling on the back side of his knee. Walker now says that it was a "cyst" in his knee that was causing the problem. Walker is most likely referring to what is called a Baker's cyst, which is a pouch of synovial fluid (the fluid found normally within the knee joint) that collects and forms a cyst-like structure as an extension of the joint capsule, typically on the back side of the knee. The cyst generally forms in response to some irritation within the knee joint itself. Remove the source of the irritation, which ranges from torn meniscus to cartilage flaps or fraying, and the cyst then typically resolves. If that is indeed the scenario, then Walker should be in much better shape for having had the procedure, and should return strong and without fear of further injury.

Don't see your player here? Be sure to check back after Friday practice reports when we check further Week 12 updates. We will also quickly touch on any Thursday game injuries at that time.