Stephania Bell: Steven Jackson

The Atlanta Falcons continue to look like a MASH unit when it comes to injuries. Two of the four players mentioned in this post have been on the injury report nearly every week of the season, but the two new additions are perhaps of greater concern.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, (toe): Gonzalez injured a toe in his left foot in Week 10, and appeared to be in serious discomfort immediately afterward. He exited the game briefly, but managed to return, fighting through the pain but struggling on the field. Gonzalez, who was visibly limping in the locker room after the game, netted only 29 yards on three catches. It came as little surprise that he was held out of practice Wednesday, but when he remained out on Thursday, the questions after practice understandably turned to whether his status for Sunday was in jeopardy.

"I would never count Tony Gonzalez out," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "Never."

Smith's reaction is understandable, perhaps, given that Gonzalez has not missed a game since 2006. In fact, he's missed only two in his entire career. File that under the category of "ridiculously healthy player," at any position. The Falcons have not revealed much related to the specifics of the future Hall of Famer's injury, but their official Twitter account reported that Smith "hopes to see him on the field [Friday]." Until Friday comes, there will be no indication as to whether Gonzalez might miss Sunday's game, but fantasy owners should at least prepare for that possibility.

Roddy White, (shoulder), and Harry Douglas (knee), WRs: Might the Falcons also be without their most consistent wide receiver on Sunday? With White missing more time this season than ever before in his NFL career, and Julio Jones out for the year since injuring his foot in Week 5, Douglas has taken on an expanded role. But Douglas was a no-show at practice Thursday, listed on the injury report with a knee issue after participating as usual on Wednesday. Given that the team has issued virtually no information on the topic, it's hard to know how serious the injury is. But if Douglas were to be forced out on Sunday, it makes sense the Falcons would lean on the now presumably healthy White.

Not so fast. White is back on the injury report this week, not because of his hamstring or ankle but because of his shoulder. He was listed as a limited participant both Wednesday and Thursday, but the fact he was at least there on consecutive days is a plus. The Falcons would understandably limit him in order to have him out there against the Buccaneers Sunday. Douglas is ranked No. 40 in Eric Karabell's Flex ranks this week, with White at No. 84.

Steven Jackson, RB, (toe): Then there is Jackson, who missed four games with a hamstring injury earlier this year. He appeared on Wednesday's injury report as a limited participant due to a toe injury. His ailment does not seem to be of the same severity as that of Gonzalez; Jackson upgraded to full practice on Thursday, and appears on track to play. The bigger concern -- to fantasy owners, at least -- might be whether this will influence the Falcons' stated goal of trying to get Jackson the ball more each game. An injured toe could certainly be a limiting factor, although it won't matter much if the Falcons have to continue to play catch-up through the air. If that's the case, they have to hope they have their trio of top pass-catchers -- Gonzalez, Douglas and White -- on the field, even if they're functioning at less than 100 percent.
Steven JacksonAP Photo/David GoldmanWe likely won't know Steven Jackson's true recovery status until Sunday.

The Falcons have been battered by injuries this season and could really use some positive news heading into their Week 8 meeting with the Arizona Cardinals. Signs seem to be pointing to at least one key offensive starter getting back in the action.

Steven Jackson, RB (hamstring): Last week coming off the bye, Jackson had still not been cleared to practice. In fact, his first day of practice was Wednesday of this week and that was limited. Yet the plan is for Jackson to return to action Sunday.

It’s interesting that we’ve heard he would not return until he was 100 percent, a rationale that’s hard to dispute given the high rate of recurrence for these injuries and his aforementioned risk factors. But what is 100 percent? We can’t prove that an athlete has fully recovered by a particular imaging test. There might be no lingering evidence of any tearing of the muscle or even any inflammation, but that doesn’t guarantee the muscle is capable of maximum performance. Nor can we prove that an athlete has fully recovered by a particular on-field test. He can run hard, stop, backpedal, change direction, sprint, sprint again and do well with all of those things. That still doesn’t ensure there are no setbacks when he is asked to perform in a game situation with the extra intensity of an adrenaline surge or the endurance demanded to last four quarters of football.

In Jackson’s case, a few days of limited practice don’t seem especially reassuring when it comes to his readiness to return. On the one hand, the downtime has helped keep his body fresh. On the other, his leg won’t truly be tested until he is in that game situation. In other words, Sunday, on the field, everyone -- including Jackson -- will find out just how far along his recovery is.

Roddy White, WR (hamstring/ankle): Now that White has missed a game for the first time in his career, perhaps it makes the decision to miss another somewhat easier. His ailing hamstring is no doubt making it difficult to argue for a return. White is still not practicing and there is no indication as of yet just when he might resume that activity. It was clear his presence was not especially helpful in the early part of the year when the high ankle sprain hampered his mobility. Perhaps that experience is the best motivator for White to stay off the field until he feels he can at least run and cut without limitation. This appears to be a week-to-week situation.
Though the New York Giants and Houston Texans have gotten a lot of attention as underperforming teams this season, the Atlanta Falcons have to be right there with them, at 1-4. Coming off their bye week, they'll play the remaining nine games of the season without wide receiver Julio Jones, and unfortunately, he's not the only member of the team with health problems.

Roddy White, WR, (hamstring/ankle): This appears to be shaping up as the week White is forced to miss the first game of his professional career. Some might argue that it should have come sooner; in retrospect, even White acknowledged the high ankle sprain has been more problematic than he expected. Nonetheless, he was determined to try to gut it out until the team’s bye week in an effort to contribute at some level.

After suffering a setback with the ankle in Week 4, then a hamstring injury in Week 5, it appears a single bye week isn’t enough time to get him back in playing shape. In fact, White was recently seen limping in the facility, as reported by ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure. Not practicing at all this week certainly isn’t improving the chances that we'll see him on the field Sunday and at this point, it seems even White would acknowledge that he needs to get his body right in order to better help his team.

Steven Jackson, RB (hamstring): Jackson is another Falcons player who apparently has yet to get his body right. With no explanation coming from the Falcons through Thursday’s practice, his obvious absence was a bit puzzling. From the outset, Jackson’s hamstring injury was expected to cost him multiple weeks, but there were hints that he would be returning following the team’s Week 6 bye. That bye has now come and gone and Jackson has yet to practice with his teammates. According to McClure, Jackson is now expected to miss his fourth straight game.

Significant hamstring strains can take multiple weeks for recovery, and had there not been hints prior to the Week 5 game that Jackson was “close” to returning, this continued absence might not garner as much attention. Is the team simply being cautious, or is there something more serious to explain his situation? It sounds as if Jackson’s healing just hasn’t progressed in the latter phases, as the team had hoped.

Speaking to reporters after practice, coach Mike Smith offered this assessment: "It's a hamstring that's been tough to come back from at this point in time." Smith noted that once doctors have cleared Jackson to return to practice, he will be back out there with the team. With Jackson not even being cleared to practice yet, it becomes virtually impossible to make a game plan for a return.

He is a high risk for re-injury, not only because hamstring strains are known for recurrence but because of his age (30), his history (multiple soft tissue injuries) and his position (running back), all of which are associated risk factors. While it’s understandable that no one wants Jackson to return too soon and suffer a major setback, the increasing length of his absence is in and of itself worrisome, in that it reflects just how serious this injury actually was, an injury he suffered not even two full games into the season.

Jason Snelling, RB (concussion): On a positive note for the Falcons, Snelling returned to full practice this week after suffering a concussion in Week 5. As long as there are no setbacks, he should be available this weekend. That may turn out to be a big deal, as Jackson continues to be out of the picture.
It’s not often that we get advance notice of key players who will sit out Sunday, but it certainly makes for easier planning. On that note, here are some key players who are already ruled out for Week 3 or won’t be starting:

Out for Week 3

Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons (hamstring): Two bits of noteworthy information: First and foremost, the thigh injury that forced Jackson to make an early exit from Sunday’s game will definitely sideline him this week. On Tuesday, coach Mike Smith indicated Jackson would be out for more than a week, telling reporters, "It's short term. Don't know if that's two or three weeks.” Still, it’s nice to have confirmation via the official league reports that Jackson is listed as out for Week 3.

The second bit of information is that the word “hamstring” is listed next to his name on the injury report. The Falcons originally described this as a thigh injury; now we know it is the muscle group on the back of the thigh. As noted earlier this week, Jackson is no stranger to soft-tissue injuries, and this is just an additional incident. The early projection of Jackson being sidelined a few weeks hints at a moderate strain. With a 30-year-old athlete such as Jackson, the best protection against having this turn into a more severe injury is adequate rest.

Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns (thumb): OK, so maybe this isn’t the biggest news to come out of Browns headquarters in the past 24 hours. But it’s still worth noting that the Browns have definitively declared Weeden out for this week after he injured his thumb late in the fourth quarter Sunday. On Wednesday, the Browns announced that Brian Hoyer would start in Weeden’s place when the team faces the Vikings this weekend. It is not clear what the quarterback situation will be going forward.

Not yet ruled out but not starting

Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers (concussion): After Lacy suffered a concussion on his first carry of last week’s game, it appeared there would be a good chance he would miss this week. While there are encouraging signs that Lacy is making some progress in the healing department (attending meetings despite not practicing), Packers coach Mike McCarthy indicated Wednesday that James Starks would get the “starting opportunity” in Week 3.

Starks is not without his own injury history, notes ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. In fact, that history has been significant enough to cause him to miss more than half of the team’s regular-season games during his four-year career. Starks showed last week what he can do when healthy, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown. With Lacy potentially sidelined for Week 3, the Packers are hoping Starks will start -- and finish -- against the Bengals.

Fantasy injury report: Steven Jackson

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
6:23
PM ET
UPDATE 6:23 p.m.: Falcons head coach Mike Smith has ruled out Steven Jackson for Week 3, but offered no further specifics about the nature of the injury. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smith stated, "it's short term. Don't know if that's two or three weeks."

---

UPDATE 2:41 p.m.: NFL.com has reported that Steven Jackson may be out for two to four weeks, though the team has classified him as "week to week."

---

When Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson is on the field, he exudes strength, power and hard-driving running. The key words here are "when Jackson is on the field."

Unfortunately, a "thigh" injury, as the Falcons termed it, forced Jackson off the field in the first quarter of Sunday's game, limiting him to three carries and one reception. The reception happened to be for a touchdown, making his brief appearance more valuable, but this risk is likely to be part of the ongoing concern with Jackson. As ESPN's Mike Sando notes in his Insider column , Jackson "has now appeared on an injury report no later than Week 3 in each of the past three seasons."

Jackson's ailments have tended to be of the soft tissue variety -- quadriceps, groin, hip flexor -- but nothing has been severe enough to sideline him for long. Despite his frequent appearance on the injury reports, Jackson has played in all 16 games twice over the past four seasons and has missed only one game in each of the other two campaigns. He is not an athlete who shies away from playing through discomfort, although it has limited his effectiveness at times (e.g., in 2009, when he was playing with a herniated disc in his lower back).

Still, he has managed to put up more than 1,000 yards rushing for each of the past eight seasons, including 2008, when he played in only 11 games. The difference now is that Jackson is 30 years old, and, although he maintains a remarkable fitness level, the years of play and the accumulation of various soft tissue injuries has to be considered.

As for the immediacy of this latest thigh injury, there has been no update from the Falcons thus far, but here's hoping that will change Wednesday when the first practice reports come out.


The clock is ticking down toward championship weekend for many fantasy football owners. The last thing anyone wants to see is a big zero next to a big-time player's name on Sunday night, dashing any hopes of taking home the fantasy trophy and, most importantly, bragging rights for the next year. It's not too much to ask for a Week 16 in which every player finishes the game as healthy as he entered it, right? OK, maybe it is. But at least it would be nice to know in advance who will be healthy enough to play.

One player making his return this week is Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who has been out since Week 11 recovering from a concussion. McCoy will start Sunday, but the Eagles are expected to rotate him and Bryce Brown, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.



It's not surprising that McCoy would return to play, as that is what players do once they are deemed healthy. It's worth keeping in mind that while McCoy was in the early stages of recovering from his concussion, his workouts were severely limited so as not to overstress his system -- and he only recently returned to full practice. Consequently, it would not be surprising if his game conditioning has dropped off. McCoy was subject to -- and passed -- numerous tests to demonstrate his readiness to return. How he performs after being absent for four games is the big question.

Players with the biggest question marks heading into Week 16:

Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins (knee): Will he be under center when the Redskins play the Eagles on Sunday? On Thursday, coach Mike Shanahan told reporters, "If there is no setback, he should be ready to go."

Griffin III sat out last week's game with a sprained lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in his right knee, but as we noted Tuesday, Shanahan said that if doctors clear RG III to play, he will play. On Wednesday, Griffin participated in his first full practice since the injury. The fact that he was able to practice again Thursday indicates that his knee responded well. As long as nothing develops between now and Sunday, expect Griffin to be starting at quarterback for the Redskins.

[+] EnlargeRob Gronkowski
AP/Michael DwyerWill Gronk spike again this Sunday? His playing status is very much up in the air given his forearm injury.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (forearm/hip): This may be one of the toughest situations to gauge in advance, given that Gronkowski has now returned to practice, albeit limited, for nearly a week. Gronkowski fractured his left forearm in mid-November, and Monday marked the four-week period since he underwent surgery to repair it. The fact he is out of his cast and present on the practice field signals a measure of bone healing, but is it enough for the Patriots to release him into a game situation?

He could play with a protective shell on his forearm (wrapped in padding) once there is confidence that the risk of re-fracture is relatively low. Given that standard bone healing is approximately six weeks, there may be a desire to simply keep him out a while longer to minimize that risk. It would not be surprising if Gronkowski practices on a limited basis again Friday, is listed as questionable on the injury report and comes down to a game-time decision.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants (knee): After missing Week 15 because of a knee injury, Bradshaw told me Tuesday that his knee feels much better and he expects to play on Sunday. Of course, Bradshaw is always of the mindset that he will play and, to his credit, he has perhaps played more games with injury and pain than without. Coach Tom Coughlin said that whether Bradshaw plays will be a medical decision. Bradshaw did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, not altogether surprising given that he often misses multiple days of practice each week to rest. His Sunday playing status could come down to a game-time decision.

Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons (knee): Last week, White did not practice because of a knee injury but, true to form, he did not miss the game. Although he only had two receptions, he was not seriously limited in playing time and there were no reported postgame setbacks. This week, White did not practice Wednesday but rejoined practice on a limited basis on Thursday. The Falcons travel to Detroit to play the Lions Saturday night. After playing last week, the expectation is that White will do so again.

Quick Hits


Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola was able to return to action in Week 15 after missing two games (and most of a third) with what was termed a foot injury on the injury report (reported as a plantar fascia injury by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch). The best evidence that Amendola continues to improve is his removal from the Rams' injury report this week. There will be no agonizing game-time decision necessary this week -- expect Amendola to start against the Buccaneers.

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant proved that he will play with a fractured left index finger. He also proved that while it may be more challenging to make certain catches, he can still be productive. However, there are still risks associated with his injury; at any moment, the particular way the football strikes his injured finger -- such as an awkward landing, helmet hit on the hand or even a bad angle on a block -- has the potential to escalate the pain to the point where Bryant becomes less able to produce.

But there are risks anytime a player steps onto the field. Given what Bryant was able to do last week, the expectation would be that he can perform similarly this week. While his Week 16 production may not be up to his maximum potential, it is probably still better than many other wide receiver options. The Cowboys certainly seem to think Bryant is up to the task, since he was targeted more last week (nine targets) than his per-game season average (8.4), turning one of those receptions into a touchdown. This week, he practiced on a limited basis both Wednesday and Thursday, and is on track to play on Sunday.

One player who does not appear he will be healthy enough to play this weekend is Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew. He injured his ankle in Week 14 (a high-ankle sprain, according to the Detroit Free Press), and has not played since. He did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, and his chances of playing this weekend appear slim.

[+] EnlargeJordy Nelson
AP Photo/Morry GashNelson, still ailing from an injured hamstring, has not practiced this week and is uncertain for Sunday.
A few fantasy-worthy Green Bay Packers appear on this week's injury report. Wide receiver Jordy Nelson has been on the injury report for a few weeks as he nurses an ailing hamstring. Nelson has not formally practiced this week, and although coach Mike McCarthy did not offer a specific update on Nelson's status when speaking with reporters after practice, his continued absence speaks volumes. Fellow receiver Randall Cobb has been limited in practice because of a shoulder injury. It does not appear serious and the Packers may be resting him during the week so as to maximize his recovery before game day. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on the report with an ankle injury but remains a full practice participant and will play on Sunday.

Rams running back Steven Jackson fell ill due to a virus and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. However, Jackson did warm up Thursday, then stayed to watch the remainder of practice, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. If he's able to increase his activity a bit on Friday, that will be all the encouragement fantasy owners need to see heading into the weekend.

Eagles tight end Brent Celek returned to full practice this week after missing last week's game after suffering a concussion in Week 14. He is on track to play Sunday. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was limited in practice Wednesday because of a back injury but returned to full practice Thursday, a positive sign that he too will play on Sunday for the Eagles.

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith did not practice Wednesday after suffering a concussion last week. He returned to limited practice Thursday but has yet to be cleared for contact, according to the Baltimore Sun. His status for Sunday remains uncertain.

Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline, dealing with a back injury, was limited in Wednesday's practice and was a non-participant on Thursday. We never like to see downgrades as the week progresses, but late in the season it can sometimes be a precautionary move. Friday's practice session becomes very important for gauging Hartline's game-day status.

New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller is still not practicing because of his sprained ankle, and it appears as if he will miss his third straight game.

Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was limited in practice on Wednesday with a rib injury, but upgraded to full-practice status on Thursday. Expect to see him on the field this weekend.

A pair of Broncos on many fantasy rosters appear on the injury report this week, but there doesn't seem to be huge cause for alarm. Wide receiver Eric Decker (ankle) and running back Knowshon Moreno (ribs) were both full participants Wednesday and Thursday, and seem to be in no danger of missing Sunday's game.

Of course, running back Adrian Peterson didn't practice Wednesday or Thursday. He seems deserving of an extra day or two of rest during the week given the output he delivers every week. Although he is listed on the injury report with an abdomen/groin injury, there does not appear to be any concern in Minnesota that he is in danger of sitting out this weekend's game.

In fact, Peterson told Tom Pellisero of ESPN1500.com that it's part of the plan to be at his best come game time. "I'm just doing the necessary things I need to do as far as resting," Peterson said. "I'm still getting my conditioning in and working out. It's all about that push to Sunday." That's exactly what his fantasy owners want to hear.

Cardinals-Rams injury report

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
11:15
AM ET


This week's Thursday night game features the Arizona Cardinals visiting the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals remain without running back Beanie Wells who was placed on injured reserve (designated for return) because of turf toe and is out until at least Nov. 25. Ryan Williams is expected to start, as he did in Week 4.



The Cardinals' defense has been impressive early this season, but they are dealing with a number of injuries, including to two key players. Defensive end Darnell Dockett did not play last Sunday because of a right hamstring strain suffered late in Week 3 against the Eagles. He is listed as questionable for Thursday after being limited in practice early in the week, but there is hope that the extra days of rest will allow him to play. Safety Adrian Wilson is listed as probable and is expected to play, despite the presence of two injuries. Wilson missed Week 3 because of a sore ankle and groin but returned with a strong outing last Sunday. Wilson is certainly tough, having played all of last season with a biceps tear, and it appears he'll be out there again Thursday.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams (groin, Q): Although Jackson is listed as questionable, it appears he is on track to play. Jackson, who has been playing through a groin injury, had a better outing in Week 4 than he did the previous week, where he appeared to be laboring. After Week 3, Jackson acknowledged the groin was limiting him -- he totaled fewer than 30 yards rushing -- but reported no setbacks. Last week, Jackson carried the ball for 55 yards, his second-best rushing total this season. He looked to be moving better, despite facing a tough Seattle Seahawks run defense. Still, Jackson has yet to score a touchdown in 2012.



Maybe that will change Thursday, but first Jackson has to take the field. Despite the short week, Jackson did put in a limited practice Tuesday, the most significant work day in advance of a Thursday night game. The expectation is that he will play, barring a setback.



Danny Amendola, WR St. Louis Rams (ankle P): Amendola was added to the Rams' injury report this week because of his ankle, but there is no indication this is anything major. Amendola practiced in full both Tuesday and Wednesday and is expected to play.

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (ankle, Q): Skelton continues to work his way back from an ankle sprain suffered in the season opener. He put in a full practice Tuesday, the first time he has done so since the injury. He is listed as questionable, but Kevin Kolb will remain the starter for now. However, it looks as if Skelton could be available soon, should that become necessary.

Week 4 Thursday injury update

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
10:41
PM ET


Welcome back, NFL referees! Tonight will mark their season debut in Baltimore as the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns. I have no doubt that they, like players who do not start the season on time because of contract disputes, have been maintaining their workout programs in order to be ready at the drop of a hat. But I wonder if they, like the players, will take some time to adapt to the speed of the game and will we potentially see an increased injury rate in the referees in-season this year? Something to keep an eye on.

Here's who else we're keeping an eye on in Week 4.

Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeMatthew Stafford
AP Photo/Rick OsentoskiMatthew Stafford looks like he'll go Sunday after leaving last week's game early.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (hamstring): On Tuesday we discussed Stafford's hamstring/glute injury, which was labeled "hamstring" on the NFL official injury report Wednesday. Later that day, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweeted that the team had revised it to a "hip" ailment. To add less clarity to the situation, consider the remarks of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who told reporters, "I don't really consider him injured. He's just dealing with something that's been uncomfortable ..." Based on Stafford's original remarks, this does not have the sounds of a true muscle pull but rather of an issue in the back or hip that is causing some referred pain into the gluteal or hamstring area. That leaves open a range of possibilities, but in the end the actual diagnosis may not be particularly significant, at least not yet. It will come down to functionality. Does he have enough mobility and power in the leg to function effectively, even if there is some lingering soreness? As long as that soreness does not progress into more disabling pain or weakness, then Stafford should be able to press through it. For what it's worth, he indicated he was feeling better Thursday than Wednesday.

However they decide to label it, here's what we know: Stafford did not practice Wednesday but did return Thursday, a good sign that he is preparing to be available Sunday.



Tom Brady, New England Patriots (right shoulder): If you've missed seeing Brady's name on the injury report this year, well, he's back. And it's the same body part he was listed with when he went on that record streak of injury report appearances a few years running. He was limited at practice Wednesday but expect him to play, as always.

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals (ankle): Skelton began limited practices last Thursday and that's how he started off this week. Still recovering from a sprained ankle, he returned to limited practice again this week. Right now it looks as if Kevin Kolb will stay under center.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Mark L. Baer/US PresswireAhmad Bradshaw looks like he will start this week after missing the Week 3 contest.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (neck): The Giants weren't saying much about Bradshaw's neck injury last week but he offered up some insight Thursday. The culprit, it appears, is a bulging disc. According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York, Bradshaw experienced tingling in his hands during the Week 2 game but didn't attribute it to a specific hit. It happened a second time in the game, which is when Bradshaw decided he should get it checked out.

Tingling is a hallmark nerve symptom; when the tingling happens in both hands at the same time, it's a signal that the spinal cord is involved. The medical staff was understandably cautious when Bradshaw reported the symptoms and, after evaluating him, determined he could remain at the game, but could not return to play in the game. Bradshaw underwent a subsequent MRI, where the disc issue was detected. While disc injuries can be serious, they can also be fairly benign. It's not uncommon for bulging discs to be present and be completely asymptomatic. If there is an event that results in inflammation, it can become painful or provoke nerve tissue in the area (this is perhaps what Bradshaw was trying to explain when he referenced an "inflamed disc"). Often once the inflammation resolves, the symptoms do as well. It appears this was the case with Bradshaw.

Bradshaw has practiced fully both Wednesday and Thursday and is on track to resume his starting role Sunday against the Eagles. The Giants would not return him to play if he was at any significant risk, and his clearance to return indicates his neurological symptoms have resolved. The unknown aspect is whether these symptoms will return. There is no true predictability one way or another, however, it is not uncommon to have more than one episode once a disc injury is present. Those episodes can be weeks, months or even years apart. And in some cases, there is no recurrence.



Those who make their living at a computer are at as much, if not more, risk than professional football players for developing disc problems in their neck and back. So if everyone on a laptop is going to continue to work, Bradshaw can too. If Bradshaw's neck does turn into a recurring problem then his status may change, but until that time, he can be expected to play.

[+] EnlargeFred Jackson
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireFred Jackson might be ready to return to action for the first time since leaving during the season opener.
Fred Jackson (knee) and C.J. Spiller (shoulder), Buffalo Bills: Flash back to Sunday, Spiller clearly in pain on the ground, carted off the field with medical personnel holding his shoulders. Now it's four days later and Spiller is back in practice, albeit on a very limited basis. Quite surprising. Perhaps the reassurance he received after going through further tests was enough to encourage his rapid recovery. He is still has a ways to go before playing in a game and it would not be surprising if he is out this Sunday, but that has not yet been decided.

Jackson has made an impressive recovery of his own from a right lateral knee sprain. He returned to limited practice Wednesday but emerged seeming less than thrilled with the result. Jackson told the Buffalo News on Thursday, "I was a little sore ... a little swollen." It's not terribly surprising that Jackson's knee would respond that way to the increased activity; the question was whether he would have to scale it back further on the second day. Apparently not. There were no lingering effects into Thursday afternoon's practice and Jackson participated in most of it, according to the News. After practice, coach Chan Gailey told reporters, "I think if we make it through the next couple days and continue to improve I think [Jackson] will have the opportunity to play."

There is still plenty of time for things to change but it appears to be shaping up for Jackson to be available along with a healthy Tashard Choice, while Spiller likely rests another week.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (groin): Jackson did not practice Wednesday or Thursday, but this week isn't so much about whether he'll play or not, it's about what can be expected. Last Sunday, Jackson gained only 29 yards rushing on 11 carries, most of which were very short gains with the exception of one run for 13 yards. Jackson acknowledged the injury affected him but also said he didn't suffer any setbacks. Until we see him running full speed, there will be some question as to whether the injury is truly behind him.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans (knee): Foster took in a light practice Wednesday but was back at it in full on Thursday. So far, so good.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (shoulder): McFadden's presence here is a reminder that sometimes players appear on injury reports with very minor ailments -- bumps and bruise from a game -- because they take fewer reps in practice to preserve their bodies. Of course we all understand why there is a slight panic for fantasy owners when it's McFadden's name that appears here. While Oakland's official Thursday injury report is not in at the time of this writing, a source tells me he is participating and is "fine."



[+] EnlargeMatt Forte
Joe Camporeale/US PresswireMatt Forte could be back this week, but will fantasy owners be able to wait until Monday night for the decision?
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (ankle): If only the Bears didn't have a Monday night game. Forte's status could very well come down to the wire, which will make this a tough decision for fantasy owners. In general, things are looking up. Forte returned to practice Wednesday and repeated the effort Thursday. His chances of returning are looking better, but hopefully there will be a better indication by Friday afternoon.

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins (knee): On Tuesday we highlighted Bush's knee concerns, but the real question was whether we would see him in practice. After being held out Wednesday, Bush returned to limited practice Thursday and was running well. If he can put in another good effort Friday, it appears he will play Sunday.

Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos (rib): On Tuesday, we discussed what would determine whether McGahee could play this week, and his limited participation in practice Wednesday with a bump up to full participation Thursday shows he is on track.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (rib): Another running back, another rib injury. There isn't much concern here because McCoy practiced fully both Wednesday and Thursday.

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions (groin): Leshoure was limited in practice because of a groin injury but keep in mind, he is coming into this season off major surgery (Achilles repair). There is no indication that his Sunday status is in jeopardy, but Friday's practice should yield better clues.

Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals (knee): With teammate Beanie Wells going on IR (designated for return, meaning he can return in Week 12), Williams has an opportunity to shine. He is listed on the report but put in full practice. His value is on the rise.

Evan Royster, Washington Redskins (knee): Royster strained his patellar tendon and has been held to limited practice so far this week. Roy Helu (turf toe) is now on IR, but Ryan Grant was just added to the mix so the Redskins can continue with a running back carousel.

Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs (ankle): Hillis has been in a walking boot since the game ended and has not practiced. It's not looking great for his chances to suit up this week. Teammate Jamaal Charles is not on the injury report this week, however. Kudos to Charles, who had an outstanding performance Sunday (233 rushing yards!) and showed some of the pre-injury speed on a 91-yard breakaway run. With Hillis possibly out and Charles showing improvement, he could be poised for a big week.

Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (ankle): Johnson has now been on the injury report each week but has never been at risk of not playing. Limited Wednesday, full practice Thursday, play Sunday.

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): Maclin's hip benefited from the rest in Week 3 and he claims he's much improved. Full practice both Wednesday and Thursday, and he is expected to play in the big matchup against the New York Giants on Sunday night.



[+] EnlargePierre Garcon
John David Mercer/US PresswireIt doesn't look good for Pierre Garcon to return this week.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (foot): Judging from all the questions coming my way regarding Garcon, people are very suspicious about his injury. It's important to remember that a foot injury, even a relatively mild one (no fracture or dislocation) can be extremely incapacitating because of the load that goes through the foot with running and the shear forces it experiences when changing direction.



The Redskins have maintained that Garcon can proceed based on how the foot feels, which tells us they're not overly concerned about the injury worsening. Still, pain exists to help prevent us from doing things that would lead to further injury, and depending on the location and quality of it, it is not necessarily something that can or should be overridden. With coach Mike Shanahan telling reporters Thursday that Garcon's foot is still sore and with Garcon continuing to be limited in practice (although he is making progress according to Shanahan), it appears he could miss another week.



Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (foot): I said it here Tuesday and I'll say it again: Expect Nicks to play in Week 4. He got the benefit of some extra rest for his sore foot last week, but returned to limited practice Thursday. He will be ready for Sunday night in Philadelphia.

Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (groin): Johnson practiced on a limited basis both days. There is reason to keep an eye on this, as Johnson suffered a groin injury in the preseason. But this has more the appearance of preserving a veteran star than anything else.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons (hand): The Falcons announced that Jones suffered a laceration (cut) to his hand, which is why he left the game briefly Sunday. He has been limited in practice, likely to protect the hand and help it to heal. He is expected to play.



Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans (ankle): According to the Tennessean, Britt described his cascade of injury after injury as "very frustrating." Britt went on to say, "It's like something I can't get right, injury after injury. The last healthy season I had was my rookie year." This has been an overarching concern with Britt for the last few years. A very serious hamstring injury derailed his season two years ago. He headed into 2011 with his quad and hamstring nagging at him, then tore his ACL later that year. During his recovery following reconstructive knee surgery, he needed a follow-up scope and an additional scope on the opposite knee. The Titans articulated their concern when he made his debut in Week 2, saying they planned to limit his touches. A week later he has yet another injury. And, although it is considered relatively minor, he has yet to practice this week. He still hopes to play, but the injury concerns will not disappear when he returns.

Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings played in the Monday night game but we all know his performance is hardly the thing we'll remember. He did appear to be at less than full speed at times but managed to play in the game and emerge no worse for the wear. He's been limited in practice since but looks to be in line to play this weekend when the Packers host the Saints.

Dexter McCluster, Kansas City Chiefs (elbow): On Tuesday we commented on how painful McCluster's injury looked so no one would have been surprised if he was not in practice this week. But there he was on Wednesday, wearing a brace and participating only in non-contact drills but he was out there nonetheless. On Thursday, he put in another limited practice. He's surprised so far, maybe he will again on Sunday.

Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (hand): Edelman has not practiced since injuring his hand in Sunday night's game. There's not much to go on here, but two missed practices aren't encouraging for Sunday.

Tight Ends

Dustin Keller, New York Jets (hamstring): Keller has not played since Week 1 because of his injured hamstring but it looks as if things will change this Sunday. He has been practicing on a limited basis and according to ESPNewYork's Rich Cimini, coach Rex Ryan says he expects Keller to play.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans (shoulder): On Tuesday we said Cook would need to show he could perform well enough to play and he appears to be on his way. Cook got Wednesday off but returned to limited practice Thursday. If he can do so again Friday, there is a good chance he will return this week.

Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos (groin): The groin can't be bothering him too much since he was able to practice fully both Wednesday and Thursday. It looks as if he'll be available in Week 4.



Other notes

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston does not appear on the injury report this week. He has been bothered by a case of plantar fasciitis that seemed to have limited him over the last two weeks. He played in Week 3 but had only three receptions for 40 yards. Perhaps his move off the injury report is a sign things are improving.

Don't forget to adjust your lineups! This is the first week of team byes. Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts are off this week so they do not appear on the NFL official injury report.

Week 3 Thursday injury update

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

Quarterbacks

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

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

Running backs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wide receivers

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tight ends

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

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

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


Week 2 is in the books. This week there was a new set of players added to the injury list as well as a few carryovers from Week 1. Here's what we're looking at to start the week.

Running Backs

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesThe short week will make it tough for fantasy owners and the Giants to decide whether Ahmad Bradshaw can play Thursday.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants (neck): Bradshaw left Sunday's game early with a neck injury. He had X-rays taken at the game facility, and early reports were only that Bradshaw had suffered a neck sprain, relatively vague terminology but suggestive of a soft tissue injury. Bradshaw did return to the sidelines and watched the remainder of the game from that vantage point, cheering on his teammates and not appearing to be in any particular distress. He had an MRI scheduled Monday in New York and was listed as a non-participant in practice. (It's worth noting that the team conducted only a walk-through in advance of a Thursday game, but for reporting purposes, Bradshaw would not have participated had it been a regular practice.)

On Tuesday, coach Tom Coughlin did not elaborate on Bradshaw's injury, other than to say he is holding out hope he can play Thursday.

With the Giants having only four days between games this week, Bradshaw's status is clearly in question. The Giants have been very effective in managing the practice time of some of their key players during the week (e.g., Hakeem Nicks this past week and Bradshaw much of the second half of last season) so they can play on Sunday. The issue this week is whether there will have been enough recovery between games to allow Bradshaw to safely participate.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams (groin): When Jackson was suddenly out of Sunday's game and the last thing anyone saw was him spiking a ball, there was a question as to whether there was a message being sent. Not so. Shortly after the game, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said during a Sirius XM radio interview that Jackson had injured his groin. That was later confirmed by coach Jeff Fisher, who noted Jackson had a strained groin, which was the reason for his absence. In fact, Fisher told reporters Jackson could have returned if Daryl Richardson, who replaced Jackson, had struggled. Clearly, Richardson held his own and Jackson did not return.

As to what to expect from Jackson this week, it is too soon to know. He has dealt with groin injuries in the past that have caused him to miss time. While this did not have the initial appearance of anything serious (after all, no one even saw it happen, and if hadn't sat out the remainder of the game, there would have been no question), it is often not until players test these ailments that we get an idea of how much an injury will limit them. Late-week practice should provide further clues but it might be wise to secure a backup (Richardson, perhaps?) just in case.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (knee): Charles was not involved much in the second half of Sunday's game, which prompted the question as to whether he was injured or just resting. It sounds like a little of both.

The Kansas City Star reports Charles had soreness in his surgically reconstructed knee and the thought was that it was better to rest him the remainder of the game rather than expose him to further risk. It does not appear to have been anything serious, and the early rest in Week 2 might prove helpful in protecting the health of his knee. It sounds as if the Chiefs are expecting him to return in Week 3.



Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh Steelers (foot): Dwyer was listed on last week's injury report because of his foot but was expected to play and did. Now the Beaver County Times reports Dwyer has a turf toe injury, which might explain his limited production in Week 2. After all, coach Mike Tomlin had indicated after the season opener that Dwyer had earned a bigger opportunity. With Rashard Mendenhall returning to pads in practice this week, the running back situation becomes more complex in Pittsburgh. It seems likely the Steelers will hold Mendenhall out until after their early bye week, though, to allow him some more time to adapt to the increased activity.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (knee): Jackson obviously did not play in Week 2 after suffering a sprained LCL in the season opener. After a week of rehabilitation and recovery, Jackson received some positive news. It appears he is going to be able to begin some light running in a brace this week, and, according to the Buffalo News, Jackson expects to return on the shorter end of his projected timetable. "The doc said that it's coming along, that at this rate it wouldn't be the full eight weeks," Jackson said. "Like I said before, I wanted to be back in four weeks, and he said that was a definite possibility and it will happen as long as we don't hit a snag anywhere."



Wide Receivers

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (hip): Maclin was questionable heading into Week 2 with a hip injury, was active for the game, then left early because of the same hip. Now he'll be a bigger question mark heading into Week 3. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, coach Andy Reid called Maclin "day-to-day." The Inquirer also noted that after the game, Maclin described this injury as more serious than the first. That doesn't bode well for him, considering Friday was his only day of practice last week. If he is unable to practice at all, he will be a big question mark.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants (foot): Seeing Nicks limping during Sunday's game had some fantasy owners panicking, despite his stellar performance. It turns out Nicks had his foot stepped on during the game and he was understandably experiencing some additional soreness. Nicks has been playing in the presence of some residual soreness since undergoing foot surgery this summer, but Sunday he showed he was returning to football shape.



Although he was listed as a non-participant for Monday's practice, he is expected to play Thursday night.

Tight Ends

[+] EnlargeAaron Hernandez
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaAaron Hernandez will be out at least a few weeks with an ankle injury.
Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots (ankle): AFC East blogger James Walker reports Hernandez is expected to miss a few weeks as a result of the injury to his right ankle. He has already been ruled out for Week 3, and while a definitive timetable has not been established, according to Walker, a source says Hernandez will not return before October. Tuesday's signing of veteran tight end Kellen Winslow adds support to the notion that he will miss multiple weeks. In other words, October is upon us in two weeks, but there is no reason to think the source was referencing early October.

The Patriots have not labeled the injury to Hernandez other than acknowledging it is his ankle, but the sight of him leaving the stadium on crutches and in a walking boot conveys the seriousness of it. Don't be surprised if Hernandez is out upward of a month. It is critical -- especially since he is so early in his career -- that his ankle heals completely before he returns to protect against long-term instability and degenerative changes. Expect the Patriots to take this one slowly to protect their big investment.

And we're keeping an eye on

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers (shoulder): After being cleared for contact last Thursday, Mathews knew his return date was approaching, but waiting another week might have been the best plan. Mathews was working diligently to stay in shape, but there's nothing quite like actual practice reps to prepare for a game. The prevailing feeling in San Diego is that he will make his season debut this coming weekend, assuming all goes well in practice this week.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers (ribs): Gates was a surprise inactive Sunday, especially given his return to the game the previous Monday night after the injury and his return to practice last Friday. That is what makes projecting his status for this week far more difficult. Here's hoping he's back in practice by late week so there are fewer questions heading into Sunday.

Greg Jennings, WR Green Bay Packers (groin): Jennings was not able to play in Week 2 with a groin injury after only four days' rest. The Packers' next game, though, is Monday night, meaning Jennings will have had extra recovery time. And let's not forget, he wanted to try to give it a go in Week 2. We'll see how he fares in practice but expect to see him back in Week 3.

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears (ankle): Coach Lovie Smith says it's not a high ankle sprain, so what are fantasy owners to do now? Worry less about what the team is calling it and more about what Forte is actually doing. Either type of sprain can be minor or severe; it's just that high ankle sprains tend to be more disabling across the board. But Forte was outside Monday, and as noted by ESPN Chicago, he was not wearing a brace or a boot and "trotted" off the field, something we wouldn't necessarily have expected just four days after injury. While Smith said not to expect Forte to necessarily return to practice immediately, he also said Forte had not yet been ruled out of anything. More guessing for fantasy owners, but it certainly looks as if Forte escaped a more serious injury. It still would be a surprise to see him this week; however, it's looking as if his recovery could be quicker than initially expected.

Good news for Vick, Foster, Colston

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
5:36
PM ET

Quarterbacks

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: Last week, a concussion put Vick's status in question. This week it's a hand contusion, but Vick isn't leaving much room for doubt about his availability, as he told reporters Wednesday that there's a "100 percent chance" he'll be starting Sunday. Vick put in a full practice Wednesday showing that the swelling in his non-throwing hand is not enough to limit his ability to handle the ball in all situations. After two weeks of early departures due to injury, the only question this week is can Vick last four quarters? Vick took that on as well, saying "they'll have to cart me off the field" for him to exit the game, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Without a doubt he'll be a target, just as he always is. The only way to prove that he can stay on the field will be to actually do it. We'll see what happens come Sunday.



Running Backs

[+] EnlargeArian Foster
AP Photo/Joe HowellArian Foster appears ready to be the Texans' primary running back once again.
Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward, Houston Texans: There has been a bit of a running back carousel in place thus far in Houston, born as much out of necessity, thanks to injuries. That carousel turns again this week as it appears Foster, who rested in Week 3, will not only play but will, in all likelihood, start. Foster actually practiced last week and by his account, could have played. The Texans opted for another week of rest, not wanting to press their luck after Foster had already suffered one setback with his hamstring before the season started, and then tightened up halfway in Week 2. With Ward out since Week 1 with a high ankle sprain, Ben Tate has proven to be an able backup, but a backup he remains. Foster participated fully in Wednesday's practice and afterward, according to the Texans' website, he said of his hamstring, "I have no issues with it anymore." Let's hope not. Of course the only way to know for sure that the issue is behind him is to watch Foster play in multiple games without a setback, something fantasy owners everywhere are eagerly awaiting.

Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams, St. Louis Rams: Jackson was back in Wednesday practice for the first time since injuring his quadriceps. It was a limited practice but quarterback Sam Bradford seemed pretty excited about it. Bradford told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Anytime he's out here [for] Wednesday practicing, especially the way he looked today -- he looked great, he looked fast, he looked like himself -- that's definitely going to be big for us." So the Rams have some inspiration and fantasy owners have hope that there will be more action for Jackson in Week 4. Although Jackson was active in Week 3, he only had four carries, a plan specifically designed by the coaching staff to get Jackson on the field but control his activity. As for Jackson's backup Williams, he too was limited in practice as he recovers from a hamstring ailment. Williams was on the injury report before last week's game yet still carried the bulk of the running workload, so he should again be available. If all goes according to plan, Williams will actually function as the backup this week.

Wide Receivers

[+] EnlargeMarques Colston
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezMarques Colston could be back in action much sooner than expected.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints: Colston has been out since the season opener with a clavicle fracture and underwent surgery to have a small plate implanted. However, his recovery has been swift. The Saints originally projected him to miss four weeks but there were rumblings Wednesday that Colston would actually return to play in Week 4. Not so fast. While Colston did return to practice Wednesday, it was only in a limited capacity. And the report he would play Sunday came from an Associated Press report following a conference call between Saints head coach Sean Payton and the Jacksonville media. The exact words from Payton, according to a transcript released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, were, "Yeah, he was listed as limited, but he's cleared. He'll be up this week." It's not exactly Payton definitively stating Colston takes the field Sunday. According to James Varney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Payton rarely offers that type of detailed injury information, especially early in the week. But Varney also notes that the words "up this week" typically refer to a player being on the 46-man active roster with the expectation that he will, indeed, play. So what are fantasy owners to make of it? It's probably still too early to say for sure but the signs are encouraging that Colston is close. The main issue is whether the healing in Colston's collarbone is sufficient for there to be low concern about the risk of reinjury should he land hard on that shoulder again. Typically it takes four to six weeks for bone to heal, although evidence of substantial healing can appear sooner, depending on the individual. Fantasy owners would be wise to keep an eye on injury reports through the remainder of the week and see how things are shaping up as Sunday draws closer.

Quick Hits


Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells sat out last week with a hamstring strain and was limited in practice Wednesday. Although Wells seems confident he'll take the field this Sunday, head coach Ken Whisenhunt seems cautious. According to the Cardinals' official website, Whisenhunt expressed the common fear surrounding any hamstring injury. "It's one of those things where you are worried that when he opens it up it may pull and you can feel that little twinge," he said. The Cardinals will see how Wells tolerates the week of practice before making a final decision.

San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore has been a limited participant in the team's practices thus far. It still sounds as though head coach Jim Harbaugh is leaning toward Gore playing Sunday, but how the carries would be divided between him and Kendall Hunter is up in the air.

[+] EnlargeFelix Jones
AP Photo/Tim SharpFelix Jones has battled shoulder issues the past two weeks.
Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones practiced fully just two days after aggravating his shoulder Monday night. He appears to be on track to play this week. Teammate Dez Bryant's status might be of more concern. Bryant played intermittently Monday night after sitting out in Week 2 with a deep thigh bruise. Clearly he has not fully recovered from the injury as he remained limited in practice Wednesday then did not appear at practice Thursday. With Miles Austin expected out again because of his strained hamstring, the Cowboys would like to have Bryant on the field. This could be another gametime decision.

• Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is recovering from a hamstring strain and sounds as though he expects to play Sunday. He did not practice Wednesday but did return to the field Thursday for some work. The story with hamstrings is familiar: See how the athlete responds as the week progresses. Even then, it may come down to the pregame warmup to determine just how Maclin is faring.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd is no longer on the injury report this week but teammate Knowshon Moreno is. Moreno did practice fully Wednesday, something he has not done since injuring his hamstring, but needs to get through the rest of the week to inspire any confidence. Moreno was active but did not play a single snap last Sunday. It appears teammate Willis McGahee is still expected to garner the bulk of the work, at least until Moreno shows he is healthy enough to challenge him.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson did not practice Wednesday but is expected to play again in Week 4. After limping out of the Week 2 game, Johnson appeared strong through the entire contest in Week 3. It remains an injury that could flare up but as long as he's performing, Johnson will not be limited.

Antonio Gates
Jody Gomez/US PresswireAntonio Gates has scored just seven fantasy points all season.
San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates looks like he'll miss Sunday's game. On Tuesday we referenced the challenges Gates is facing with his chronic foot pain. At this point Gates appears resigned to missing some time, it's just unclear how much.

• It's looking as though Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant will not receive medical clearance to play after suffering a bruised kidney in Week 3. Grant has not practiced yet this week. James Starks would start in his place.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice made an impact in Week 3 after sitting out the first two weeks of the season with a torn labrum. He reportedly emerged no worse for the wear and is expected to play on in Week 4.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is still recovering from his sprained left MCL. He sat out Week 3 and although he sounded optimistic about potentially returning in Week 4, it's far from a sure thing. Hernandez was not in practice Wednesday or Thursday and until we see him out there in some measure, it's hard to believe he'll be ready Sunday.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 4 in the Saturday morning blog!

Tony Romo, Michael Vick progressing

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
7:28
PM ET


Quarterbacks

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
AP Photo/LM OteroA special vest could help Tony Romo absorb hits to his rib cage and allow him to play Monday night.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: On Tuesday we outlined Romo's injury and what we learned from the Cowboys' official statement. ESPN's Ed Werder reported Wednesday that Romo is being outfitted for a special protective vest in the event he suits up Monday night. A similar vest was created for Michael Vick after he suffered a rib cartilage injury last season, something Vick credited with allowing him to play despite continuing to absorb hits. Romo is certainly taking the steps toward being protected Monday night, but will he play? Most importantly, the lung will need to show evidence of healing. Romo, who is not practicing so far this week, underwent a CT scan Thursday to evaluate the status of his injury. Those results are not known at the time of this writing, but if the lung has healed, the decision to play largely comes down to pain tolerance. Romo has shown his ability to press through pain but he also needs to show he can perform effectively and move well enough to protect himself. There should be better clues as to his status in the next few days.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: Like Romo, Vick is being evaluated on a daily basis to determine his readiness to return to action. He appeared to take another step forward as he returned to practice Thursday after going through morning walkthroughs and mild exertional and balance tests Wednesday. After suffering a concussion, all players must meet the guidelines outlined by the NFL before they can return to play. Those guidelines include: the absence of symptoms both at rest and with exertion, a normal neurological exam, normal neurocognitive tests (these are the ImPACT tests which measure how the brain processes information; results must return to baseline pre-concussion values) and clearance to return from both the team physician and an independent neurological consultant. While Vick certainly appears to be making progress, the key is that there are no setbacks with each gradient of increasing activity. If Vick is able to take part in consecutive practices this week and suffers no setbacks going forward, it paves the way for a Sunday start.

Running Backs

Arian Foster and Derrick Ward, Houston Texans: The Texans are lucky to have so much depth at running back; fantasy owners everywhere wish they could say the same. After complaining of tightness in his hamstring Sunday, Foster did not play in the second half of the game. While the symptoms of "tightness" do not sound severe, it does raise a caution flag when it comes to Foster's overall recovery, as in he's not quite there yet. With Ben Tate ably handling the duties, it looks as though he will get the start Sunday with Foster, at best, contributing only slightly. Ward, who sat out Week 2 with a high ankle sprain, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and is not expected to play.



Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams, St. Louis Rams: The news on Jackson is not as encouraging as one would have hoped it would be by this point. When Jackson, who strained his right quadriceps muscle in Week 1, took to the field to test his leg before Monday night's game, it seemed as though his return was not far off. This week however Jackson's first practice did not come until Thursday and he was still limited. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Jackson could be headed for another game-time decision. Williams, who started in place of Jackson on Monday night, strained a hamstring Monday and has not practiced this week.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Moreno and hamstring injuries seem to go hand in hand. After not playing in Week 2, Moreno returned to limited practice this week. That said, it's hard to imagine he's 100 percent past the injury by Sunday. The Broncos have to be concerned about a setback with him and may opt to limit his carries, even if he does play Sunday.

Wide Receivers

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys Bryant sat out Week 2 with a thigh bruise and now that teammate Miles Austin is potentially out for a few weeks because of his hamstring, the Cowboys would like to have Bryant back in the mix. Bryant still was not practicing Thursday making his Monday status much less certain. The team is hopeful that an extra day before game time will help his cause; his returning to practice Friday would help ours.

Quick Hits


Uh-oh. Late-week practice injury alert: Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells now has a hamstring injury to add to the list of ailments that have touched him in his young career. According to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic via Twitter, Wells suffered the injury in Thursday's practice. While it's not known just how severe the injury is, we never like to see these things crop up late in the week.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin) was back at full practice Thursday after doing limited work Wednesday. Lloyd sat out Week 2 but the team could really use him now that teammate Eddie Royal, also with a groin injury, is expected to miss time. If Lloyd practices again Friday it will be a good sign he's heading for a Sunday start.

In Detroit, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who sprained his left ankle in Week 1 but delivered on the field again in Week 2, is expected to play in Week 3. Johnson is following last year's routine of doing less in practice and more on Sunday. It seems to be working for him.

New Orleans Saints' wide receiver Lance Moore made his season debut in Week 2 coming off a groin injury that cost him much of the preseason. Although his targets were limited, Moore emerged from the game no worse for the wear. After putting in a full practice Wednesday, Moore did not appear on Thursday's injury report. With teammate Marques Colston down for another couple of weeks with a fractured collarbone, Moore's health could provide the Saints and fantasy owners a boost in Week 3.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson clearly looked to be struggling with his nagging groin injury late in the Week 2 contest. He did not practice Wednesday but did return to a full workload Thursday. The question is how much this injury will affect him during play. It certainly appears as though he will suit up but he will not be fully recovered. The Bills have to hope that he does not take a turn for the worse.

It's a little difficult to know how concerned to be about the San Diego Chargers. Tight end Antonio Gates did not do much in Week 2 but whether that was due to good defensive coverage or lack of mobility -- or a little of both -- is up for debate. Gates sat out Wednesday's practice, which is likely to be a season-long theme -- but is expected to play in Week 3. Running back Mike Tolbert did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and is listed on the injury report with a calf ailment. If he's not out there Friday it's officially time to get nervous. Wide receiver Malcom Floyd is not practicing because of a groin injury and is quite possibly out Sunday.

The Oakland Raiders still list running back Darren McFadden as a limited participant in practice this week because of his shoulder but he is expected to play this weekend. In the wide receiver department, neither Jacoby Ford (hamstring) nor Louis Murphy (groin) is practicing. Murphy is expected out and Ford is not looking like he'll be ready. Then there's Darrius Heyward-Bey, who missed Week 2 after injuring his knee in practice last week. A return to full practice Thursday was encouraging. If he does it again Friday it improves the outlook for Sunday.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice has been absent so far this season after suffering a shoulder injury (labral tear) during preseason drills. Perhaps the best news on the receiver so far is that he took part in full practice Wednesday but he will need to do so throughout the week to have a shot at playing in Week 3. Given the injury, there's no expectation that it will heal. The question becomes whether Rice can function effectively and consistently.

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez sprained his MCL and is all but certain to miss this week and next. Whether he will require more time away from the game is up in the air.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 3 in the Saturday morning blog.

Holmes, Bryant, Nicks among iffy WRs

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
1:09
AM ET


After a stellar performance in Week 1, San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert gave everyone a scare when he exited the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury. Tolbert was medically cleared to return to practice by the start of the week, however, and never even showed up on the team's injury report. In other words, he put in a normal week of practice and is ready to face the New England Patriots.



Also off the injury report: Matt Cassel (QB, Kansas City Chiefs), Steve Breaston (WR, Chiefs), Austin Collie (WR, Indianapolis Colts) and Visanthe Shiancoe (TE, Minnesota Vikings)

Good luck in Week 2, everyone! May your players stay healthy and win for you.

Quarterbacks

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams, index finger, (P): The Rams play in the Monday night game, so it is nice to know there is every indication that he will play. On Thursday, we noted the team's optimism after Bradford returned to practice and how he was going about treating his finger . The concern after this injury, naturally, is how well Bradford can grip and deliver the ball, but those concerns were put to rest early in the week with the accuracy Bradford showed in practice. After doing limited work Wednesday and Thursday, Bradford put in a full practice Friday, enhancing his chances of leading his team in New York on Monday night.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals, right wrist, (P): Dalton's bruised right forearm made it difficult for him to effectively use his wrist and hand to grip the ball early in the week, but as the inflammation has improved, so has his function. Dalton was able to do some work with the right hand Thursday (after using only his left on Wednesday) and on Friday was able to put in a full practice. He showed the team what he needed to for them to list him as probable. Plan on Dalton starting Sunday.

Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders, foot, (P): Despite being added to the injury report this week with a foot ailment, Campbell put in a full practice daily. He is expected to start in Buffalo.

Running backs

Arian Foster
AP Photo/Eric GayAfter missing Week 1, Arian Foster is looking good to play on Sunday against the Dolphins.
Arian Foster, Houston Texans, hamstring, (Q): Still the most intensely observed fantasy player in Week 2, Foster appears on track to play this week after sitting out the season opener. This really doesn't come as a shock after tracking Foster's progress throughout the past two weeks. Although he didn't practice last week, he did increase the intensity of his running workouts daily. This week, Foster returned to practice, and though he was listed as limited each day, head coach Gary Kubiak noted as early as Wednesday that Foster was taking the normal reps of a starter. By Friday, Kubiak sounded confident in Foster's recovery. With teammate Derrick Ward already ruled out (ankle, shoulder), it appears Foster is in line to start, with Ben Tate available to come off the bench. It is worth noting that Kubiak indicated Foster would likely not take his usual number of snaps, but these are the types of things that often change during the game. If Foster shows any signs of discomfort or suffers a setback, Tate could come in early. But if Foster shows that the hamstring issue appears to be a thing of the past and he's running well, he could see the bulk of the action. Despite the desire of fantasy owners to make it so, it is impossible to be certain an athlete is fully recovered from a muscle strain until he is able to prove it on the field. Game situations are more demanding and are simply not duplicated in practice. So everyone hopes for the best, knowing the week of rest undoubtedly benefited Foster in his recovery process. The Texans have shown they are interested in his availability for the long haul by not pressing him into service in Week 1. No doubt Foster is eager to prove to everyone -- even himself -- that the worst of this injury is behind him.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams, quadriceps, (Q): Like teammate Sam Bradford, Jackson plays Monday night, only his status is less certain. While Jackson maintained late in the week that there was still an "outside chance" he could suit up Monday, that chance appears to be very small indeed. Jackson left the Week 1 contest shortly after delivering a touchdown on a 47-yard play and hasn't practiced since. As noted Thursday, the team has confidence in Jackson's ability to recognize how his body is responding, but the signs are not encouraging. Even Jackson, while trying to keep the door open for a Monday night appearance, acknowledged to reporters that it's still early in the season and they want to be smart. The uncertainty, combined with a Monday night game, makes Jackson a risky play. Cadillac Williams would get the start in his place.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos, hamstring, (Q): Moreno again appears on an injury report because of a hamstring ailment. Moreno has missed time in the past because of hamstring problems and it had to be a concern for fantasy owners coming into the season. This week, it's a particular concern because Moreno has not practiced at all. To complicate the fantasy scenario, this is a late game Sunday. Coming off a Monday night game (translation: less recovery time) with no practice whatsoever, it appears unlikely Moreno will be on the field to face the Cincinnati Bengals.



Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders, shoulder, (P): After taking his share of hits Monday night, McFadden was limited Wednesday and Thursday with a sore shoulder but returned to a full practice Friday, much to the relief of fantasy owners everywhere. The buzz in Oakland, along with the probable tag, indicates he is ready to play Sunday.

Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins, hamstring, (P): Thomas injured his hamstring Sept. 7 in practice and was held out of the season opener as a result. Thomas returned to full practice this week, and as his probable designation would suggest, is expected to play. Between coming off the injury and a less than stellar preseason, Thomas is not likely to get the majority of carries. Teammate Reggie Bush is expected to start Sunday, but it's worth keeping an eye on Thomas, whose role could expand going forward.

Wide receivers

Santonio Holmes, New York Jets, knee/quadriceps, (Q): Holmes suffered a knee injury in last week's contest against the Dallas Cowboys, but it did not appear particularly serious given that Holmes practiced fully Wednesday. On Thursday, however, Holmes injured his quadriceps (front of the thigh muscle) during practice and told reporters he did it while running. It's unclear whether the two injuries were on the same side, but since the quadriceps crosses the knee joint, the injuries could certainly compound one another. Coach Rex Ryan's concern about Holmes' status was evident and even Holmes, after expressing confidence about playing Thursday, told "The Michael Kay Show" on Friday that the decision would be up to the doctors. In other words, this likely comes down to pregame warm-ups and evaluation, but it also suggests Holmes is not likely to be at full strength by game time. Murky.

Plaxico Burress, New York Jets, ankle, (P): Burress played last week, practiced fully every day this week and is expected to play this week as well.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, ankle, (Q): Despite being listed as questionable, there is every expectation Johnson will play. Swelling in an ankle he sprained in Week 1 kept him off the practice field Wednesday and Thursday, but he did return to limited practice Friday. All along, Johnson did not seem overly concerned about his status and he has certainly rested during the week in past seasons in order to recover for Sunday. While it may not be a full recovery for his ankle, it's likely enough to allow him to be a big-play guy for Matthew Stafford to target.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, knee, (Q): Just what fantasy owners love. A Monday night game-time decision for a star player who has indicated he plans on playing but may not be up to full speed. That essentially summarizes the Nicks situation. Swelling in his knee kept him out of practice Wednesday and Thursday and he did only limited individual work Friday. While the New York Daily News reported Friday that Nicks indicated he would be "out there Monday" and that the pain and swelling were gone, head coach Tom Coughlin reiterated it would be a medical decision. The fact that Nicks got in a couple of days of limited work is a positive, but there's no telling how his knee will be feeling come Monday. The bottom line is if the swelling has returned to a degree where it compromises his ability to move effectively, he will be held out. On the other hand, an additional day of rest this week allows for more recovery. Given how Nicks has responded in the past and his late-week progress, the scale tips in his favor to play, but this is why they're called "dreaded" game-time decisions.



Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys, thigh, (Q): Bryant is not only questionable, he's very questionable. After looking clearly impaired in the second half of last Sunday's game, Bryant did not practice all week because of a deep thigh bruise. Although team owner Jerry Jones sounded confident Thursday about Bryant's chances of playing, he retreated a bit from his remarks on Friday. While the Cowboys have indicated they would give Bryant up until game time, it's not just a question of desire on the part of Bryant. A deep bruise indicates bleeding within the muscle, which can render the tissue stiff and painful. The athlete will not be at full strength, will lack flexibility and, depending how limited he is, could be at risk for further injury. It would not be a surprise if Bryant sits; if he does not, it's hard to picture him performing at full capacity.

Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys, knee, (P): Last week, he was probable. He played. He scored. This week, he's probable as well. He plays again and perhaps gets more attention given teammate Bryant's status.

Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos, groin, (P): Despite telling reporters he was not injured in the Monday night game, Lloyd appeared on the injury report and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He did make an appearance Friday, increasing his chances of making an appearance Sunday. That said, he will undoubtedly warm up before the game before a decision is made. It's hard to feel confident about a receiver with a groin injury coming off a short week and practicing only once, and on a limited basis at that.

Lance Moore
Patrick Green/Icon SMILance Moore could make his season debut Sunday against the Bears, but how effective will he be?
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints, groin, (Q): Another receiver, another groin injury. In Moore's case, however, the injury was several weeks ago, he rested the first week of the season and he has been able to practice all week, albeit on a limited basis. With teammate Marques Colston out with a broken clavicle, Moore has an opportunity to be the beneficiary. It appears he might begin that campaign this week. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that, as early as Thursday, head coach Sean Payton expressed optimism Moore would play this week. That said, even if he does play, it's hard to project how much action he will see. Everyone knows by now that quarterback Drew Brees has a multitude of receiving weapons and Moore is coming off a multiweek injury to an easily aggravated body part. And he is, after all, questionable, so be sure to check pregame inactive reports.

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers, foot, (Q): Crabtree will likely be a game-time decision and last week's scenario had to be a bit unnerving for fantasy owners. Crabtree, who dealt with a foot injury that required surgery in the offseason, left the game early because of pain. According to the Sacramento Bee, Crabtree later said he would likely have to play through pain all season and would just "remove himself from the game" when it becomes unbearable. Not exactly what fantasy owners want to hear.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders, knee, (Q): Heyward-Bey's status becomes more important this week with teammates Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford already ruled out due to injury. Heyward-Bey has a knee issue that limited him on Thursday (he did not finish practice after sustaining the injury) and he did not practice on Friday. The Raiders under Hue Jackson are being very mum on injuries, but there is definitely some concern about Heyward-Bey's late-week injury, perhaps even more so because the team is already thin at receiver this week. If he plays, it's not likely his well-documented speed will be up to par.

Tight ends

Chris Cooley, Washington Redskins, knee, (Q): Cooley, not surprisingly, struggled in Week 1. He did increase his practice activity this week, however, fully participating daily. It seems likely that if he could play last week, he will again this week, but how effective he can be is still questionable. Keep in mind this is an issue Cooley said he expected to have to manage throughout the season, so until we see him perform better, it's hard to have confidence.

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars, calf, (D): Lewis did not practice at all Wednesday or Thursday and was limited Friday. The doubtful tag tells you all you need to know. He is highly unlikely to play in Week 2.

Out


This space is intended for a list of key fantasy players, not including those who have been moved to injured reserve status, who are officially listed as "out" for the upcoming game.

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts, neck: Get used to this one. Manning will be out for several months after undergoing a cervical (neck) fusion.



Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks, shoulder: The Seahawks spared everyone another Sunday lineup decision by announcing in advance that Rice is out for Week 2. He did do some practicing this week, though, so keep an eye on him for next Sunday.

Be sure to check out Fantasy Football Now, Sundays on ESPN2 at 11:30 a.m. ET, and don't forget our game-day chat and the online version of Fantasy Football Now on ESPN.com starts at 10 a.m. ET for last-minute inactives, rankings, injury impact and more!


Quarterbacks

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams: On Tuesday, we outlined Bradford's injury concerns following the hit to his index finger in Week 1. On Wednesday, the Rams got some good news (one might say deservedly so, after all of the blows they were dealt on Sunday). Bradford returned to practice sooner than expected and looked better than expected. He was making numerous throws in practice Wednesday, prompting wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker to say, "I would've never thought he had a hand problem today, if I'd never seen the game Sunday," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Post-Dispatch notes that Bradford has been wearing a glove connected to an electrical stimulation unit to help with swelling reduction. Apparently, something has been helping. Bradford said his hand felt, "10 times better than it did on Sunday" and plans to play Monday night. Naturally one of the keys, beyond the finger feeling better, is how effectively he can deliver the ball. Based on what his teammates are saying, that question appears to have been answered. Barring a setback, Bradford's quick progress suggests he will be under center Monday night.



Running backs

[+] EnlargeArian Foster
AP Photo/Eric GayArian Foster hopes not to be sitting on the bench again this week after missing the season opener with a hamstring injury.
Arian Foster and Derrick Ward, Houston Texans: After sitting out Week 1, Foster returned to practice Wednesday and, according to coach Gary Kubiak, took the normal reps "for a starter" in the workout. Officially listed as a limited participant on the NFL injury report, Foster said that while he felt "pretty fluid" during the workout, he was still taking it day-by-day. The Texans were eager to see how Foster's hamstring responded to getting back into practice mode. It must have been no worse for the wear, considering he did it all again Thursday. HoustonTexans.com writer Nick Scurfield posted via Twitter that Kubiak described Foster as "much better" today and indicates if the trend continues, Foster will play Sunday. Meanwhile, Ward, who started in place of Foster in Week 1 but left early with an ankle injury, did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. He appears unlikely to practice Friday either but an official decision as to his status may not come until the weekend.



Steven Jackson, St. Louis Rams: Jackson, who exited Week 1 early with a right quadriceps strain, did not practice Wednesday but instead spent time receiving treatment on his thigh. Although he has not yet been ruled out for Monday night's contest, he was deemed unlikely to play early in the week by coach Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he trusts Jackson with regard to his injuries noting, "He knows better than anybody how his body reacts." Given that Jackson has a bit of a history with soft tissue injuries but also works to keep himself at peak fitness, that trust in knowing when he can or can't push it is deserved. Jackson quickly removed himself from the game last week suggesting he was concerned about doing further damage and a Week 2 appearance seems unlikely. He has not practiced this week and it appears he won't.

Wide receivers

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants: On Tuesday, we noted that Nicks was dealing with postgame swelling in his knee, but an MRI showed no major trauma. Nicks suffered a bone bruise but pointed out that he was injured in the first quarter yet remained in the game, which confirmed to him the injury was not particularly serious. Often, though, the swelling will come later, as it did for Nicks, leading to the follow-up testing. On Wednesday, Nicks did not practice, as expected, but told reporters that the swelling was beginning to subside and he thought he would be able to play Monday night. On Thursday, Nicks, who remained out of practice, told ESPN New York that the decision to play Monday will ultimately be his call. He indicated the swelling had gone down and it was just a matter of pain, which he described as "not too bad." He plans to go through some individual drills Friday and will evaluate how his knee responds. Nicks has proven his toughness before, so discomfort is not likely to keep him down. If the knee swells again, however, it makes it difficult to contract the muscles around the joint, making him not only potentially ineffective as a receiver but also at risk for further injury. If he does not play, Domenik Hixon (returning from 2010 ACL surgery) will likely start opposite Mario Manningham, so fantasy owners may want to get him as Monday night insurance.

More notes


• The Denver Broncos have two major offensive fantasy players on the injury radar. Both running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin) suffered injuries Monday night, both have undergone MRIs (the results of which have not been made public) and neither has practiced since. It is not looking optimistic for either player at this point, especially coming off a shortened week.

[+] EnlargeCalvin Johnson
AP Photo/Margaret BowlesCalvin Johnson has a very good matchup this week, as long as he's healthy enough to play.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who sprained his left ankle in Week 1, told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday, "Get the swelling out and I'll be ready." His non-participation in practice is likely aimed at doing exactly that, with the goal of having him available Sunday. Johnson has often been restricted or even held out of practice during past seasons in an effort to rest him for game days, so this is not unusual. Every time Johnson gets up in the air to make big plays, fantasy owners are simultaneously thrilled by the awesome catches and dreading the hard landings for fear of an injury. Somehow he manages to play through the majority of them and it appears he will again this week, barring an unexpected development.

• We can always count on Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to update us on the status of his top players. On Wednesday, Jones told the Dallas Morning News that he expects wide receiver Dez Bryant (thigh contusion) to play Sunday, suggesting the rest will help him to get ready. Anyone watching the Sunday night game in Week 1 could see that Bryant was hampered. Given his extensive injury history, it would be helpful to see him doing something in practice before the Cowboys face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Friday will be important to gauge just how recovered Bryant appears.

• The New Orleans Saints know they will be without wide receiver Marques Colston for at least a month following surgery to repair a broken clavicle. But what about teammate Lance Moore, who suffered a groin injury in the preseason that sidelined him for the season opener against the Green Bay Packers? The extra time may have been just what the doctor ordered as Moore returned to limited workouts Wednesday. The last time Moore attempted practice he was out for several days -- and the first game -- as a result. This time he followed up Wednesday's practice with another (limited) practice Thursday. Not yet a lock to play Sunday, but certainly encouraging.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was able to make throws with his bruised right forearm Thursday and coach Marvin Lewis tells the Cincinnati Enquirer he expects Dalton to start Sunday. Dalton was having trouble gripping the ball and was using his left hand in Wednesday's practice. According to the Enquirer, Dalton handled short and medium throws Thursday and will test longer throws Friday. If the swelling has diminished to the point where he can grip and throw effectively, there is no reason for Dalton to be held out of Sunday's contest.

[+] EnlargeMcFadden
Cary Edmondson/US PresswireDarren McFadden was dealing with a shoulder injury and missed Wednesday's practice but still seems on track to start Sunday.
Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden was kept to a limited practice Wednesday because of a sore shoulder, much to the alarm of fantasy owners everywhere. McFadden certainly absorbed his share of contact Monday night and, given his injury history, there was legitimate concern. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, McFadden was back Thursday, however, and is a "full go" for Sunday.



Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber (calf) returned to limited practice Wednesday but then didn't practice Thursday. Not a good sign. Wide receiver Roy Williams (groin) hasn't practiced at all. More ominous sign. Looks like both could be on the sidelines in Week 2.

• Bad news: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice, despite returning to a limited practice Wednesday, is being called a "long shot" by coach Pete Carroll to play this week. During an appearance on ESPN 710 in Seattle, Carroll spoke about Rice's talent, which they have yet to really see unfold in a game because of his absence. Rice is dealing with a shoulder injury he sustained during training camp.

• Good news: San Diego Chargers running back Mike Tolbert is not on the injury report.

See you at the injury chat Friday at 11 a.m. and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 2 in the Saturday morning blog!



Here we are, at last, with Week 1 of a new NFL season behind us. There were amazing individual performances (here's looking at you, Tom Brady) and outstanding team performances (the Houston Texans delivered). And yes, there were injuries. Some teams (ahem, the St. Louis Rams) seemed to amass more than their fair share. Now comes the time when fantasy owners start scouting the waiver wire or considering trades to fill the roster gaps created by injury. Every Tuesday we will have a blog entry in which we'll share with you the latest updates involving notable fantasy-relevant players and how their status is shaping up early in the week. The emphasis is on the word "early," since no official NFL injury reports are due until Wednesday, and much can happen between now and the next slate of games.

To revisit some of the oft-asked questions surrounding injuries and fantasy football, I revive an excerpt from a piece I posted a couple of years ago.



Following is a compilation of injury guidelines to help fantasy owners navigate the maze of injury-related information that emerges each week. Although injury information may emerge in bits and pieces, swathed in insinuation and innuendo, there are some hints fantasy owners can use to help them stay on course when assessing injury impact on their fantasy teams.

1. No two injuries are identical.

• Injuries often can be graded according to severity. Even then, subtle differences often dictate different healing times.

• Players heal at different rates, so just because one guy recovers from an ankle sprain in two weeks doesn't mean the next guy will recover at the same rate, even when the injury involves the same structures.

2. Player position must be considered when evaluating the impact of an injury.

• Any given injury will affect different position players differently depending on the demands of that position. A classic example is the MCL sprain, which can be more debilitating for a running back, who has to cut frequently, than for a quarterback. It often translates to different amounts of time missed.

3. A player's overall injury history is worth considering, especially if it is a repeat injury.

• A player who has been healthy for years and has his first injury often will return faster than a player who has sustained multiple injuries. This is especially the case when it comes to repetitive muscle strains in the same region. In other words, a guy who is on his fourth right-side hamstring strain should not be expected to heal as quickly or as fully as the guy with his first episode. There are of course exceptions to this (which always should be listed as the first rule of medicine).

4. The severity of an injury cannot always be determined by how it looks on the field.

• Appearances can be deceiving. Just because a guy gets up and walks off the field doesn't mean he's not injured. Sometimes the full nature of the injury is not appreciated until a day or two later. The reverse is also true. An injury can appear devastating because it is initially very painful but then turns out to be not so bad.



5. Beware of the following overused phrases:

• He's "100 percent healthy." No one is 100 percent healthy once the season starts. Usually it means that an athlete has been fully cleared and returned to play, but it doesn't mean there are no underlying long-term changes (such as cartilage damage for instance) that won't crop up again.

• It was a "mild concussion." A concussion is a brain injury. Brain injuries are always serious, so we should acknowledge them as such. We can't determine the true severity until we see how long it took for an athlete to fully recover. Period.

• That guy is "injury-prone." There is bad luck, and then there is bad tissue. Although there is never likely to be consensus on what constitutes injury-prone, it seems that if a player misses time with more than one injury in his career, he gets the label. Football is a contact sport. Injuries happen, and most often they are due to a series of random events. The average career playing time is just a few years for a reason. The term is unfairly overused, and in fantasy, people may be steering clear of a player who is highly valuable but labeled. That player could be a great waiver-wire pickup.

And now, on to the key Week 1 injuries:

[+] EnlargeJackson
AP Photo/Seth PerlmanSteven Jackson did score a touchdown in Week 1 before going down with a quad injury.
Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams: Fantasy owners were no doubt excited to see Jackson scramble for a 47-yard touchdown play right out of the gate. As I watched the play, however, Jackson's last few strides looked suddenly labored, as though something was holding him back. Turns out, a strained right quadriceps was the culprit. Jackson remained in the game for one more carry but then was done for the day. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has not offered any specifics as to the degree of Jackson's thigh injury but has called him week-to-week and indicated he is likely to miss the Rams' Monday night contest in Week 2. Unfortunately, Jackson is no stranger to soft-tissue injuries, as he has missed time with quad, hamstring and groin injuries in the past. Although there is no way to predict at this moment just how much time he could miss, fantasy owners should plan on his absence for Monday and potentially a couple of weeks beyond. Cadillac Williams came into the game when Jackson left with the injury and finished with 140 total yards of offense.

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams: Bradford hurt his index finger in the fourth quarter Sunday, and the report of numbness had many worried. A fracture was ruled out when Bradford had his finger X-rayed. The team is referring to his injury as a bruised finger, and he expects to play Monday. The key will be for any swelling to subside and any nerve irritation to quiet down so that Bradford can grip the ball as needed to be effective. Naturally, how he progresses during the week is worth watching, but this could have been far worse.

Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams: The Rams are really being forced to follow the mantra of "next guy up," as they watched so many starters get injured Sunday. Amendola had perhaps the most visually disturbing injury of the day when he landed awkwardly and dislocated his left elbow. Although some said his season would end almost immediately, it's worth noting that the spectrum of damage resulting from an elbow dislocation has a wide range. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted, Amendola did not suffer a fracture (which can happen during the process of the dislocation), and head athletic trainer Reggie Scott did not believe Amendola would require surgery (suggesting there was not major ligamentous disruption, either). Nonetheless, this is a painful injury (look at the still photo of the injury if you're not sure), and there is bound to be a fair amount of swelling around the joint. The elbow will need to be protected in a splint for comfort, and treatment will focus on controlling inflammation while the soft tissues heal. Then there's the matter of getting range of motion back in the elbow and normal strength in the arm. It likely will be several weeks before Amendola could be ready to play, but the team is issuing no timetable. The positive news is that it does appear he will be able to avoid IR.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: Nicks did not speak of a knee injury after Sunday's game, but his coach, Tom Coughlin, did on Monday. According to ESPN New York, Coughlin did not elaborate on the injury, explaining it was being checked out, but he did indicate Nicks had swelling in his knee. Citing a source, ESPN New York indicated the MRI on Hicks was negative, but the swelling alone may be enough to limit him. If his knee is significantly swollen, the muscles around the knee will be limited in their capacity to contract, so he cannot be at full strength. It would not be a surprise if Nicks is out for a good portion of this week's practice, as the team will not play until Monday night. I sense a tough fantasy decision approaching for Week 2 when it comes to Nicks' status.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints: Colston suffered a broken collarbone in Thursday night's game and will be out at least a month. Clavicle fractures can be highly variable depending on the location and size of the break. Saints coach Sean Payton has indicated he will not update player status until he needs to on Wednesday. Plan on Colston being out at least four weeks but perhaps longer.

Quick hits


• The San Diego Chargers did not emerge from Sunday's contest unscathed in the injury department. Kicker Nate Kaeding was lost for the season to a torn ACL on the first play of the game as he tried to make a tackle during a kickoff return. The team is currently trying out kickers, but Kaeding will be tough to replace. Meanwhile, the Chargers got better news on running back Mike Tolbert, who appeared to injure his right knee late in the game after delivering one rushing and two receiving touchdowns. As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Tolbert was cleared by doctors Monday to return to practice and is expected to play in Week 2. Fantasy owners can exhale.

[+] EnlargeDerrick Ward
Brett Davis/US PresswireDerrick Ward started in place of the injured Arian Foster and scored a TD before getting hurt himself.
• Another team with several players of interest to fantasy owners is the Houston Texans. Running back Arian Foster and his much-discussed hamstring sat out Week 1, a wise move given that the team proved it could manage without him. Foster had increased his running workouts throughout the past week but had not formally practiced with the team. He reportedly worked out hard again on Monday, but it remains to be seen whether he will return to practice. His progress last week was encouraging, but so was the performance of his teammates in Sunday's game, so the team can afford to be patient.



Those teammates include Derrick Ward, who started in place of Foster on Sunday. Ward was faring well but exited early with a right ankle sprain, opening the fantasy door for Ben Tate. Ward said his removal from the game was precautionary, and coach Gary Kubiak seemed to downplay the injury as well, calling Ward "day-to-day." Wide receiver Kevin Walter has a bruised collarbone (not broken, as was widely reported Sunday) and according to the Houston Chronicle, Walter has not been officially ruled out of anything yet. Kubiak said of Walter's injury, "It's being treated as a bad bruise. He's probably going to miss a few days, and we'll see where he is [Wednesday] and at the end of the week." It would come as no surprise if Walter missed at least this week. A severe bruise can make it difficult to raise the arm overhead, and landing on the area can easily aggravate it.

• On Monday night, the Denver Broncos added a couple of fantasy players to the injury mix in running back Knowshon Moreno and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. The Denver Post reports that MRIs are scheduled for both Lloyd (groin) and Moreno (hamstring), and it's worth mentioning that both have a history of these injuries in their past. Although neither seemed to be in extreme pain, all fantasy owners know how these minor-appearing things sometimes can turn into bigger ones.

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

See you at the injury chats (Tuesday, 3 p.m., and Friday, 11 a.m.), and we'll have further updates with blog entries on Thursday and Saturday (and as news warrants).

SPONSORED HEADLINES