Stephania Bell: Tony Scheffler

Winslow likely to go

November, 19, 2008
11/19/08
2:31
PM ET


Rev up the engine; here comes the Cadillac. Now that Earnest Graham has been placed on injured reserve after suffering a high ankle sprain Sunday, it looks as if Carnell Williams could make his season debut this week for the Buccaneers. Warrick Dunn will remain the starter, and B.J. Askew is likely to continue to see action as well, but Williams, who has spent more than a year recovering from a torn patellar tendon, says he is ready to roll and may be called on to contribute. Keep in mind that this will be his first game in a year, and set your fantasy expectations accordingly. But if he's available in your league, he could be a good pickup for your fantasy playoffs.

Whom else might you want to watch out for as the fantasy playoffs approach? Based on early practice reports, here's what we're hearing on the injury front so far.

Kellen Winslow
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireAnother week, another injury for Kellen Winslow, who hurt his shoulder late in Monday's game.
Kellen Winslow, TE, Browns: Winslow injured his right shoulder as the clock wound down on the Browns' Monday night victory over the Bills. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Winslow injured his right shoulder when he was tackled following a big catch and clearly was in discomfort afterward. Winslow underwent an MRI to further assess the injury, and it showed no structural damage. The team is calling it a shoulder sprain.

Last year, Winslow also sustained a shoulder injury, a subluxation (when the shoulder slips quickly out of place but doesn't completely dislocate). Although he had discomfort with the injury, he did not miss any playing time. More importantly, coach Romeo Crennel says that this episode is on the opposite side, so Winslow is not aggravating a previously injured limb. That being said, Winslow, who has dealt with more than his share of serious injuries in a relatively short time frame, doesn't have many uninjured limbs left. We do know based on previous experience that he is one tough athlete, so expect him to try to return to play this week. Of course, we will know more about his status as the weekend approaches and will learn whether he is able to practice by Friday.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Jacobs appeared to have escaped any major injury to his knee Sunday. Reports indicated that an MRI showed no structural damage to Jacobs' knee, but Jacobs' own comments on ESPN's "First Take" may have been the most telling. Jacobs acknowledged that his knee didn't feel too bad and that he still hopes to play Sunday, but he indicated that the medical staff might have a different idea (read: rest him). The Giants already have proven they have solid depth in their backfield, and between Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw, they can afford to let Jacobs sit out a game to ensure his availability for the playoffs.

OK, so they might rest him to preserve his status heading into the playoffs, but don't these NFL teams know that fantasy playoffs are starting for many people this week? What is a fantasy owner to do? Well, a prudent owner will start by securing a replacement for Jacobs for this week because he may be able to come to your rescue down the stretch, but he may not be able to help you on Sunday, even if he wants to.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams: It was supposed to be a one-to-two-week injury. Now it's been five weeks since the initial injury, and Jackson already has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Bears. This scenario only goes to prove how difficult muscle strains can be to manage during the season, and how much easier it is to take a step backward in the healing process than to make significant forward progress.

Let's look at the good news. Fantasy owners can plan accordingly early in the week. But this is even better news from a medical perspective. By making the decision this early, Jackson faces no pressure to attempt to return in time for Sunday's game. Clearly the muscle tissue in his thigh is still healing, and rest and rehabilitation are the best course of action for him. If blood is present in the tissue, as coach Jim Haslett relayed to the Belleville News-Democrat, clearly it is not ready to be stressed by explosive running. In fact, Jackson saw a specialist for a second opinion this week who basically agreed with the team's original diagnosis and concurred with the plan for continued rest. The plan, it seems, is to rest Jackson this week, then reassess his condition next week.

The not-so-good news is that this situation has become very difficult to predict. Some speculate the Rams will move to shut Jackson down for the remainder of the season, given that they have no chance of making the postseason. I don't expect that to be the case, at least not yet. No player as competitive as Jackson wants to go out on a whimper, and if he can contribute, even in an overall losing effort, he will. The Rams and Haslett also want to try to finish out the season respectfully and won't throw in the towel in Week 12, meaning they want their best players on the field. Still, Jackson's condition could remain slow to heal. If he cannot run at full speed within the next three weeks, he likely wouldn't see any game action. A player whose performance depends on speed and explosiveness cannot play at less than full throttle. Any attempt to do so risks further injury. At this point, Jackson has to understand that because he already experienced a setback when attempting to return too soon. Fantasy owners do not have an easy decision here as to whether to keep Jackson on their roster, but at the very least, they should plan on filling in for him for the next two weeks.

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

&#8226 Another running back named Bell, Mike Bell, that is, has found a job this week because another player went down to injury. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Saints running back Aaron Stecker was placed on injured reserve after aggravating a hamstring strain. Although Reggie Bush is hopeful to return to action Monday night for the Saints after missing a month following meniscal surgery, the Saints needed the insurance, just in case. Fullback Mike Karney remains sidelined with an MCL sprain and also is likely to miss Monday's game. Bell likely will have little to no fantasy value this week amid the presence of Deuce McAllister, Pierre Thomas and the potential return of Bush. The situation bears watching, though, as McAllister may have a suspension looming in the not-too-distant future.

&#8226 Steelers tight end Heath Miller has returned to full practice, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has indicated that he is off the injury report and is likely to return to face the Bengals this week. Miller has been recovering from a high ankle sprain and has missed two games as a result. He is still on the early side of recovery, so it remains to be seen how much he will contribute. The Steelers play Thursday night, so keep that in mind when setting fantasy lineups.

&#8226 If you picked up Cowboys receiver Miles Austin as a flex player for your lineup, it's time to find a replacement. The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Austin suffered a lateral collateral ligament sprain and could be out anywhere from two to four weeks. This is the same injury that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered last year. Although this is one of the less frequently sprained knee ligaments (it reinforces the outer aspect of the knee joint), allowing full healing is critical in preserving overall knee stability. This is especially true for Austin, who suffered an MCL sprain at the outset of the 2008 season. Austin looked to be challenging Patrick Crayton on the depth chart, but at this point, Crayton looks to have that spot back behind Terrell Owens and Roy Williams. Meanwhile, it is too soon to know whether Felix Jones will be able to return for the Cowboys this week. His level of practice by Friday should give a better indication.

&#8226 Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler is still dealing with the soreness of a lingering groin injury. He's been playing, but clearly not up to the high standard he set at the start of the season. Expect him to play again, but he likely won't be at full health. Meanwhile, Selvin Young will remain out another week with his groin injury. Peyton Hillis will remain the starter.

&#8226 Raiders running back Darren McFadden emerged feeling good after Sunday's contest. Of course, he didn't play too much, but nonetheless, this was a big positive for the rookie, who has been plagued by turf toe in both feet this year. Expect him to see some increased playing time against Denver this week.

&#8226 Jason La Canfora reports in his blog in the Washington Post that coach Jim Zorn acknowledges that Redskins running back Clinton Portis started "to wear down a little bit" in Sunday night's game, yet feels better this week than last. I'm still amazed that Portis played, and played as well as he did. Based on the severity of the injury the Redskins reported in advance of the game, they were very lucky that Portis emerged from that game relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, Ladell Betts had a setback to his knee injury, but he has not been ruled out of Sunday's game. At this point it still appears that Portis will shoulder the majority of the work this weekend against Seattle.

As usual, practice throughout the week will give us a better hint as to what the final status of these players will be heading into Week 12. See you Friday at the injury chat, and we'll have the latest injury updates affecting Week 12 in the Saturday blog!

Portis looking unlikely to play

November, 12, 2008
11/12/08
2:31
PM ET


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broncos, Rams backs banged up

November, 5, 2008
11/05/08
4:09
PM ET


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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Steven Jackson looking to play

November, 1, 2008
11/01/08
10:10
PM ET
Bad weather and airport delays during my West Coast travels have me hustling to get the news out to you. So without further ado, here's what we know as we head into the Week 9 contests.

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

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

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

But wait! Perhaps you won't have to wait until just before kickoff to find out about Jackson's status. In a late post on his official Web site Saturday, SJ39.com, Jackson announced to all his fans that the leg is feeling good enough for him to play against the Cardinals on Sunday. He notes that it is a big game and he is going to "give everything [he's] got" to get the Rams a win. In case you still don't believe? Jackson's words: "So to be clear. I am playing. Be ready." Don't know if that's directed at fantasy owners or the Cardinals, but it sounds convincing. Although he was limited this week, and perhaps a little more so than expected given that he was considering suiting up last week, he may have been protecting his leg to save up for the weekend. It's looking promising.

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

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

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

Other noteworthy items


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bell: Not Fast Enough, Parker Out

October, 18, 2008
10/18/08
2:04
PM ET
There has been a lot of quarterback drama this week. We know that Carson Palmer is sitting this one out for the Bengals. We also know that Seneca Wallace will start in place of Matt Hasselbeck for the Seahawks. And finally we are getting the strong impression out of Dallas that Brad Johnson will indeed start, although Tony Romo and his broken pinkie finger are listed as questionable and he could serve as a backup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other noteworthy items


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other noteworthy items


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Westbrook suffers a new injury

October, 6, 2008
10/06/08
2:40
PM ET
Now that we're a month into the season, we have begun to see the effects of guys playing when they are less than 100 percent healthy. Most football players will tell you that after a week or two of the regular season, nobody on the roster is 100 percent, simply because of the physical nature of the game. Bumps, bruises, sprains and strains are all part of the job, and many times players are practicing and playing through these minor ailments, with no formal mention on the team injury report.

Sometimes, however, as evidenced by the injury reports, players will experience injuries that are serious enough to keep them out for a week or longer but are not enough to sideline them for the remainder of the season. Nonetheless, these are often the types of injuries that might require an offseason of rest to fully heal. Although an athlete might be cleared to play, the possibility remains that the still-recovering tissue might be more easily re-injured. For example, a mild ankle sprain might heal enough to allow a player to play, even at a high level, but one wrong move or one awkward landing can send the athlete back to the training room for the week, and perhaps cost him even more recovery time.

This week we saw several instances of players aggravating prior injuries, now rendering their status uncertain. And, of course, there are always a few new injuries to add to the list. Unfortunately, as you'll see, the list of disabled quarterbacks continues to grow.

Here's a first look at Week 5 injuries as we begin to focus on Week 6:

Brian Westbrook
AP Photo/Tom MihalekBrian Westbrook missed time in Week 5 because of an injury not related to his Week 3 injury.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles:

Westbrook's fantasy owners have reason to be concerned -- and not because of his ankle. Westbrook, who played Sunday despite being listed as questionable, left the game early and went to the locker room, prompting speculation that he had aggravated the ankle injury he sustained in Week 3. It turns out Westbrook had taken a shot to the ribs, although he was cleared to return later in the game.

In his Monday news conference, coach Andy Reid indicated Westbrook suffered fractured ribs, although he did not include any more details (how many ribs, which ones, projected time out, etc). There are a number of variables that will factor into whether Westbrook can play and whether he will require protection, such as rib padding, if he does play. Although Westbrook shows up on the injury report regularly, he also manages to play through a great deal of ailments, so it's important not to count him out just yet. After all, he did finish the game and even made some nice plays after sustaining the injury. That definitely gets him my vote in the toughness category. That said, a wise Westbrook owner will secure a backup for Week 6.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers:

Unfortunately for Tomlinson, he is the case study this week for aggravating a previous injury. Tomlinson, who injured his big toe in the season opener, has not been himself in the early going, which is no surprise given the nature of his injury and the relevance of the big toe for pivoting, cutting and pushing off. Each week, though, Tomlinson had maintained that he was improving, that the toe was finally feeling better, particularly while running straight ahead. As such, he rushed for more than 100 yards against Oakland in Week 4 and looked to be on the upswing.

That all changed in Week 5, when Tomlinson exacerbated his toe injury against the Dolphins. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Tomlinson had his toe "twisted into the ground" when he was stepped on by a member of the Dolphins' defense. These big toe problems occur primarily where the big toe meets the ball of the foot, and any excessive force across that joint -- either from hyperextension, torsion (twisting) or impact -- will potentially injure the ligaments and the capsule around the joint. The risk is that if the tissue does not completely heal, the joint can become arthritic down the line -- a very painful scenario.

It would not be surprising to see Tomlinson limited this week in practice, and his return to top form might now require an extended timeline as well.

Antonio Gates, TE and Chris Chambers, WR, Chargers:

Gates is another Charger who has been playing while recovering from injury. Gates' offseason toe surgery has been well-documented, and he was very upfront about the toe limiting him throughout the preseason and early into the regular season. But even as his toe has improved, Gates also has been dealing with a hip injury that he sustained early in the season. Although it has not kept him out of any games, the hip injury has limited him in practice, and this week it also limited him on the field. Gates was held to only one reception and seemed to have limited mobility Sunday. Gates' comment to the San Diego Union-Tribune reflects the mentality of tough athletes trying to play through pain, knowing their bodies are not fully cooperating but not letting that be the rationale for subpar performance: "Obviously there are some things I need to do physically ... But once you decide to get on the field, you have to put everything else behind you." It's an admirable stance, but it does not hide that being at less than full health impacts his performance. It will be interesting to see if Gates has a lighter work week in advance of Game 6.

Meanwhile, Gates' teammate, Chris Chambers, injured his leg on the last play of the fourth quarter Sunday. The Union-Tribune is calling Chambers' injury an ankle sprain, and there is no word yet as to the severity of the injury. The Chargers have to be hoping this injury is not a long-term concern.

Trent Edwards, QB, Bills:

Edwards took a shot from Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, who flew in untouched and sent Edwards reeling. Edwards was on the ground for several minutes after the hit and was eventually helped off the field. Later seen on the sidelines, and even later as he was carted into the locker room, Edwards still appeared dazed. According to Associated Press reports, after visiting with his injured quarterback after the game, coach Dick Jauron said Edwards was "responding, but he was still a little groggy." Jauron added, "It's a good time to have a bye." That might be the ultimate understatement. Edwards will have an extra week to recover from his concussion, but as is typical of head injuries, it is impossible to predict a recovery time frame -- it will simply be measured by how Edwards feels from day to day.

Brian Griese, QB, Buccaneers:

Griese took a big hit from Champ Bailey on Sunday, and it was anyone's guess as to which body part was injured. It looked as if it could have been his head, his neck or a shoulder. But the St. Petersburg Times is reporting Griese said he sustained an "elbow bruise" as a result of the hit. He also reported immediate swelling, which is not surprising but perhaps very limiting as far as the function of the elbow. The elbow might just have been the body part that got the worst of it. At this point there are no further specifics, but we will keep an eye on Griese's status this week.

Matt Hasselbeck
Jarrett Baker/Getty ImagesThe Seahawks' injury woes continue. … This week Matt Hasselbeck got hurt.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, and Deion Branch, WR, Seahawks:

Hasselbeck was hit on the first drive of Sunday's game and sustained what the Tacoma News-Tribune is reporting as a hyperextended knee. Hasselbeck said he was initially in a great deal of pain, which subsided to some degree over the next few minutes. He is scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

After the near depletion of their receiving corps, the Seahawks were very excited about the return of their two injured stars, Bobby Engram and Deion Branch. Engram's season debut was quite successful; Branch's was not. Branch, approximately eight months removed from left ACL reconstruction, suffered an injury to his right heel, according to the Seattle Times. Coach Mike Holmgren implied that Branch's injury could cause him to miss time, but there are no further specifics as of yet. Nonetheless, Branch's fantasy owners may want to make other plans.

Eddie Royal, WR and Tony Scheffler, TE, Broncos:

Rookie Eddie Royal, who was initially projected to be primarily a special teams player, had quite a welcome to the NFL as a wide receiver in Week 1 when he put up 146 receiving yards and a touchdown versus the Raiders. That was also the week Royal initially injured his ankle. Royal has been listed on the injury report since that time, because of the ankle, but has been able to practice and play with the injury, which appeared to be minor.

That minor injury might have become more significant in Week 5 -- Royal aggravated the ankle on a punt return in the third quarter. The Denver Post reports that although X-rays were negative, Royal left the locker room on crutches and limping well after the game was over.

Teammate Tony Scheffler left the locker room in the same condition as Royal -- on crutches and limping -- but for a different reason. The Post is reporting that Scheffler suffered a left groin injury. After initially experiencing some discomfort in the first half, Scheffler continued to play, but the problem seemed to worsen on his final catch of the game. As Scheffler put it, "You go through the game, and there's some soreness and tightness in there, and then something happens at the end that kind of puts it over the edge."

You never like to see athletes on crutches, since it implies a degree of seriousness to the injury, but crutches also permit unloading (non-weight bearing) of the injured part, which can go a long way in the early stages to improve tissue healing. It certainly helps prevent worsening of the injury, and it also helps keep an athlete from compensating by limping, which can lead to problems in another area. As a result, it is important not to read too much into these injuries just yet. We will hear more from the teams as the week progresses, and we will see what Scheffler and Royal are able to do in practice (if they are able to practice). Meanwhile, receiver Darrell Jackson, sidelined since Week 1 because of a calf strain, can help fill a potential void if he is ready to go in Week 6. As Mike Shanahan told the Denver Post, "That's why you have to have depth." Yes, Mike, fantasy owners know all about that.

Other noteworthy injuries:

Aaron Rodgers
Chris Livingston/Icon SMIAaron Rodgers admitted to having pain Sunday, but he was able to play well despite it.

On a positive note for Week 5, Aaron Rodgers was able to throw for his first 300-yard game at Lambeau Field, despite his sprained shoulder. Rodgers was a game-time decision to start because he had not been able to throw much during the week and had to prove to the coaches Sunday morning that he had the strength in his arm to get the job done. Rodgers was able to deliver some nice sharp passes in the Packers' loss, although he acknowledged to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that his shoulder was painful throughout the game. Don't be surprised if he is allowed to rest his shoulder in practice this week in preparation for Week 6.

Jon Kitna was removed as the Lions' quarterback because of back spasms. Although some speculated his removal was due to poor performance, coach Rod Marinelli said in his postgame news conference that the switch was made as a result of Kitna's back problems. Kitna has dealt with back spasms before, so this is nothing new. How limiting this episode will be remains to be seen. Backup Dan Orlovsky sustained a high ankle sprain late in the game, so it is unclear who will get the start for the ailing Lions this week.

New York Giants receiver Domenik Hixon, taking advantage of the absence of Plaxico Burress (suspension), suffered a concussion that kept him out of the second half, or his numbers might have been even better. The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that Hixon wanted to return, suggesting his injury might not be too serious, but the team declined his request, choosing to err on the side of caution. Never a questionable call when it comes to head injuries.

Patriots running back LaMont Jordan left Sunday's game with an undisclosed injury on a non-contact play in the first half. He did not return to the game, and his status for Week 6 is uncertain. We may not hear much more as to the nature of his injury from the Patriots, but as always, we will stay tuned to the practice and injury reports.

Be sure to check back here throughout the week as we update these and other injuries. Also, stop by my injury chat (11 a.m. ET on Tuesdays and Fridays) to discuss the status of your injured players. Hope to see you there!

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